A Dedication From A Lifelong Student

“Hail Caesar, Look At The Falling Star, Punch Tattoo, Go To Hell, You Must Swallow Your Mind!”
The Passing of Mike DePasquale Sr.
by Billy Ristuccia

Mike DePasquale Sr. (1925 – 2006)

On September 23, 2006 at 1:30pm my teacher Mike DePasquale Sr. passed away while I was in the middle of teaching a martial arts seminar. That evening I received a phone call with the news of his passing. I had known that this day would come when he would finally leave us, but still my heart was crushed straight through. I was further saddened to learn that night that the family had suffered another loss, the passing of their youngest son John just months ago. With another day left of my seminar I tried to get some sleep. So many wonderful memories filled my mind of training under Mr. D.’s wing year after year I was unable to sleep. Mr. D. was the kind of teacher to me who when I think of him zero bad memories come to my mind. I can not say this about many other people.

I was first introduced to Mike DePasquale Sr. in 1976 by my parents who were close friends of the family. I was eight years old at the time. I had a very rough time growing up in school. I was involved in many fights where I had to deal with being bullied on a daily basis in school. Who knew that being pushed around in school would turn into a blessing in disguise for the rest of my life. One day after seeing a martial arts show on TV I told my parents that I wanted to study martial arts. They took me to meet Mr. D. whose school was then located in Closter, NJ. As we climbed the stairs that led up to his school I remember hearing loud bangs and the hand rail would shake a little each time I heard the noise. As I reached the top of the stairs I finally saw what was making the noise… students flying through the air and hitting the ground! I was at the time a very timid child and a bit introverted. After watching for only a few minutes I was asked to sit in line with the other students on the mat. Mr. D. gave the students some corrections for a throwing technique they were working on. Afterwards, the students resumed their individual practice with their partners. It soon occurred to me that I was now someone’s partner! I first learned how to fall after being repeatedly thrown many times over and over again, each time with some guidance from Mr. D. and my partner on how to take proper ukemi breakfalls. From that day forward I never stopped training under Mr. D. I have so many amazing memories and stories from this time in my life I sometimes feel that this was the real beginning of my childhood.

To Be Continued…

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