My first approach to martial arts dates back to my childhood. I was eight when I tasted a bit of Judo. However, I did not feel comfortable in such a sport-like activity, competition-based, characterized by a narrow range of techniques mainly focused on projections and falls. I quit the classes after a couple of months. I was nine when I began to regularly practice Ju Tai Jutsu – an ancient Japanese martial art – at the Yoshin Ryu in Torino. There I learned the basics of a spiritual attitude towards a dynamic physical training and the respect for tradition, master and fellows in the practice. My master Alessandro Nepote encouraged me to go beyond the techniques and to develop my own personal ‘poetry’. Despite his wonderful personality and remarkable pedagogical skills, I felt that Ju Tai Jutsu itself was lacking in a deep knowledge about the human body and mind with their interrelated dynamics. After five years of Ju Tai Jutsu, I was ready to move forward.
At the age of fifteen I met Sergio Volpiano, my master of Kung Fu, from Kung Fu Chang school of Torino. Since 1994 I have studied and trained with him in the classical Kung Fu of north China, as transmitted by Master Chang Dsu Yao (1918-1992). This meeting has deeply affected my life: Sergio’s teachings went much further than the mere practice of a martial discipline. Kung Fu helped me to find a method to proceed with my studies, and to deal with life crises and challenges. Throughout the years, I came to understand Kung Fu as a profound way for exploring the interactions between body and mind.
Kung Fu (功夫) means ‘exercise acted with ability’, ‘work executed with mastery’ or in a wider meaning ‘thing well done’. This term is also used to define the whole of traditional Chinese martial arts, together with Wu Shu (武術, martial technique). These disciplines are extremely wide and complex and in order to be mastered require the commitment of a whole lifetime. The curriculum of studies in Kung Fu Chang school includes both internal and external styles. The first category (Nei Chia, 內家) comprises all those ‘soft’ and ‘internal’ styles, so named because of the importance given in them to the development of the internal energy. The second group (Wai Chia, 外家) is composed of all the ‘hard’ or ‘external’ styles, so named because of the importance given in them to a vigorous practice, where ‘external’ characteristics of speed and power are put in evidence. The main Kung Fu’s external style is the classic Shaolin Ch’üan (少林拳) of the northern China and the best known internal styles are the T’ai Chi Ch’üan (太極拳), Pa Kua (八卦) and Hsing-I (形意).
My beginners-classes provide both Shaolin of North China and T’ai Chi Yang style – the long form of 108 movements with the related fight applications, and specific Ch’I Kung exercises. To advanced students, I introduce also some basic forms of Mei Hua, Hsing-I, Kung Li, and Pa Chi. In my courses, the main weight is on the health-side of practice.