Antonio Graceffo

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Antonio Graceffo
Antonia Graceffo.jpg
GenreMartial arts & Adventure

Antonio Graceffo (born September 6, 1967) is a martial artist and adventure author living in Asia[clarification needed]. He is also the host of the web TV show, Martial Arts Odyssey, which traces his ongoing journey through Asia learning martial arts in various countries. Graceffo is credited for revitalizing the lost Khmer art of Bokator by being the first to report on it. Beyond martial arts, Graceffo is also a student of multiple languages, including Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Khmer, Vietnamese, German, Spanish, Italian, and French.

Life and education[edit]

Born to Sicilian parents, Antonio Graceffo is originally from New York City. When he was 9 his family moved to Tennessee and for the next 8 years he spent school days in Tennessee and holidays and summers in New York. He moved back to New York at the age of 17.

Graceffo spent seven years in the United States Military starting with the Army National Guard. At Fort Benning, Georgia he went through boot camp and completed infantry school. Later, he graduated from Non-Commissioned Officer’s Academy. He then served in the Navy and the US Merchant Marines.

As a child, Antonio was identified as a learning disabled dyslexic. He was in Special Ed classes until high school. In high school, his grade point average was only 1.7 on a 4 point scale. Guidance councilors told him he would most likely not be able to graduate university and certainly could not pursue languages, writing, or literature.

Antonio says that because he did not do well in school, he read constantly to make up for his lack of formal education. He eventually earned his university degrees from English, foreign language, business, and teaching. He also became a published author. He cites all of these accomplishments as examples of overcoming adversity.

Graceffo graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Foreign Language and English. He studied applied linguistics/translation at the University of Mainz in Germany for four years. He also did an advanced Diploma in TESOL at Trinity College, England and did graduate business diplomas through Heriot-Watt University in Scotland. He worked as a translator and teacher in Europe for most of the four years he was in school there and then worked in Costa Rica for one year. After that, he returned to New York and went through a financial training program and worked as a financial planner, and then a wealth manager. Eventually he became assistant head of private wealth management for one of the largest private banks in America.

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 prompted him to leave his career as an investment banker on Wall Street to pursue full-time adventure writing in Asia. Arriving in Taiwan in 2001, Graceffo’s quest to discover Asia’s diverse martial arts has led him to the original Shaolin Temple in China and a Muay Thai monastery in Thailand, as well as Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, and Burma.

In 2013, Antonio was accepted into a PhD program at the Shanghai University of Sport. He is on the wrestling team, and is writing his dissertation on Chinese wrestling in Chinese language. In June 2016, Antonio became the first American to receive a PhD in Wu Shu from the Shanghai University of Sport.

Early involvement in martial arts[edit]

At the age of 13 Antonio began studying martial arts from H. David Collins, at the American School of Empty Hand Fighting (Fire and Water) in Blountville, Tennessee. At age 20 he began training and competing in boxing and boxed in “smokers” and other informal boxing contests throughout his time in the military and beyond. He continued with boxing in the Merchant Marines. He later stopped fighting during his university studies in Germany, but then began training in earnest after seeing his first UFC video in 1997. He was training and had begun flying to Tennessee to participate in Friday night fights until he left the US for Asia in October 2001.

Martial arts achievements[edit]

In 2005 Antonio was the first foreign student of the Khmer martial art of Bokator. The story he wrote in Black Belt magazine was the first article ever written about the art in Black Belt magazine. In 2007, Antonio became one of two Americans promoted on the same day, to the rank of Black Krama in Bokator. These were the first foreigners to obtain this rank. In the same year, Antonio traveled into Burma and shot videos with a master of Lai Tai, a kung fu type art practiced by the Shan people. To date, this is the first video ever shot of the art. In 2009, Antonio was the first non-Muslim student of Silat Kalam, a Muslim martial art in Malaysia, and in 2011 was given a national award, Silat Kalam Warrior. He was the first non-Muslim to receive this award.

In the summer of 2013, Antonio returned to the Shaolin Temple to learn San Da, contesting and winning a smoker San Da fight. He also commenced studying Chinese traditional wrestling, initially on a team in Beijing and later at the Shanghai University of Sport, where he won a silver medal at the Shanghai International BJJ Tournament in the traditional wrestling division for beginners.

Antonio held black belts in three martial arts to date: Bokator (Black Krama) from Grand Master San Kim Saen in 2007; Kuntaw (KUMANDOS) From Grand Master Frank Aycocho in 2008, and Khmer boxing (BUSHIDO) from Paddy Carson in 2010.

Fight record[edit]

In 2011, Antonio began competing in Mixed Martial Arts Exhibitions. He now has a record of 10 wins and 1 loss. Antonio also has 1 tie from an exhibition fight.

Antonio Graceffo Fight Record

Name: Antonio Graceffo

Height: 170 cm

Weight: 85 kg

Age: 51

Birth date: 6 September 1967

Style: Bokator

Fight record: 10 wins, 1 loss, and 1 exhibition match

Fighting out of: Ultimate MMA Academy, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Result Opponent Method Event Location Referee Date
Win Syed Muhammad Ikhwan Win - Strikes Ultimate Beatdown 35 Stadium Johor Bahru, Malaysia Isaac Yap August 17, 2019
Win Muhammad Rohaili Bin Rosaly Win - Strikes Ultimate Beatdown 33 Stadium Johor Bahru, Malaysia Kim Lee Tan April 27, 2019
Win Hafiz Bin Abdul Salam Chandran TKO (Punches) F-3 Johor Stadium, Johor Bahru, Malaysia Kim Lee Tan May 20, 2012
Win Stephen Yeoh Submission (Can Opener) Ultimate Beatdown 8 Ultimate MMA Academy, Johor Bahru, Malaysia Kim Lee Tan May 5, 2012
Win David Khoo Submission (Rear Naked Choke) God's FC Overtime, Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Raymond Tiew April 14, 2012
Win Nik Harris Decision MFC 4 Overtime, Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Arnaud "The Game" Le Pont March 10, 2012
Exhibition Kimberley Lee Tan Draw F-3 Titiwangsa Stadium, Kuala Lumpur None February 26, 2012
Win Aaron Lim TKO Referee Stoppage F-3 Titiwangsa Stadium, Kuala Lumpur Ikhsan Ismael February 26, 2012
Win Seksyen Submission (Rear Naked Choke) MFC 2 Vogue, Kuala Lumpur Peter Davis November 12, 2011
Win Red Sha TKO Referee Stoppage MFC 1 Overtime, Kuala Lumpur Vegas October 15, 2011
Loss Abdul Hati Submission (Kimura) Mayhem II Sunway, Kuala Lumpur Yeow Chet September 11, 2011
Win Aaron Lim Decision Mayhem II Sunway, Kuala Lumpur Vegas September 11, 2011

Notable accomplishments[edit]

In 2007 and 2008, Antonio was embedded with the Shan State Army in the war zone of Burma, reporting on the genocide. While embedded with the Shan State Army, Antonio taught hand-to-hand combat and basic knife fighting, as well as rifle bayonet training to new recruits.


Graceffo has penned 8 books in publication on martial arts. The Monk From Brooklyn: An American At The Shaolin Temple was the first booklet published, which chronicled his studies near the Shaolin Temple during the SARS crisis. Warrior's Odyssey details Graceffo's first 6 years of travel in Asia through 10 countries. His latest book, The Wrestler's Dissertation, is an examination of Chinese and Western wrestling.

Graceffo is a regular contributor to Black Belt Magazine and writes about 70 articles a year for various magazines and news sources.

In 2018, Graceffo published two books focussing on the Chinese Economy.

Film and video[edit]

Krabei Liak Goan (Buffalo Protecting Child) was the start of Graceffo's movie career, providing him a co-starring role as the villain in the Khmer Kung Fu film. He also stars in Bokator another Khmer film.

Graceffo works, or has worked, as a martial arts consultant for TV shows such as Human Weapon, Digging for the Truth, Kill Arman, The Art of Fighting, Samantha Brown’s Asia, Inside Martial Arts, Black Belt Magazine Destinations Video Column, and Thai TV shows about Muay Thai Chaiya and Kun Khmer Champions in Cambodia.

The web TV show Martial Arts Odyssey has over 100 videos up on YouTube.


  • The Monk From Brooklyn: An American At The Shaolin Temple (July 15, 2004)
  • Boat, Bikes, and Boxing Gloves: Adventure Writer in the Kingdom of Siam (April 28, 2005)
  • Desert of Death on Three Wheels (June 28, 2005)
  • Adventures in Formosa (December 28, 2006)
  • Rediscovering The Khmers (August 18, 2008)
  • Warrior Odyssey: The Travels of a Martial Artist in Asia (August 1, 2010)
  • Khun Khmer: Cambodian Martial Art Diary (November 7, 2011)
  • The Wrestler's Dissertation (January 2018)
  • A Short Course on the Chinese Economy (March 2018)
  • A Deeper Look At The Chinese Economy, From Mao to Xi Jinping and Donald Trump (July 2018)


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

  1. ^ "About – Day Spa - Arvada Plumber - SEO". Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Antonio Graceffo - Martial Arts Specialist & Linguist". Cambodian Alliance for the Arts. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Bangkok, Thailand - meet Antonio, 45 years old male :: VillageHub". 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Antonio Graceffo". 2 July 2011. Archived from the original on 2 July 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  5. ^ "A Warrior's Odyssey – Interview with Antonio Graceffo". Foreign Policy Journal. 5 June 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Info - World Footprints Travel Radio". 7 September 2011. Archived from the original on 7 September 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Valley Martial Arts Supply". Valley Martial Arts Supply. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Black Belt Magazine". Retrieved 18 December 2018.

External links[edit]