Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mike Martello Has Passed Away

Mike Martello, center

For those of you that haven't heard, our friend and instructor Mike Martello has passed away. Mike died suddenly from a congenital heart condition, he had been living and teaching in Belgium. Mike leaves behind a legacy of hundreds of students.
I met Mike through Jake Burroughs of Seattle's "Three Harmonies Martial Arts Center", who had recently relocated to the Seattle-area from New Mexico. I had seen videos of this guy half Jakes size tossing him and other students around. That guy was Mike Martello. I got in touch with Jake and shortly after attended my first grueling two-day seminar with Mike and witnessed first-hand what he was capable of.

Mike Martello in chin na applications
As you see in the above video, Mike was five-foot-two, and I doubt he cleared 120 pounds. He was wirey and strong, and could switch from a very yin-yielding aspect to a punishing-pounding finish in the same technique. Obviously, Mike could not out-muscle the big guys, so he had to become a master of body mechanics, and find ways to make his size work for him. Like taking down a big tree, Mike could get his center under you to throw or sweep a leg to bring an opponent down to his size. He was very much a "people person", and had a wonderful time just hanging out for burgers and beers after seminars. It was those conversations where we learned a little about him, and he about us. Mike would write me lengthy e-mails from Belgium, with comments about the training videos, or the other crazy crap we post on Dojo Rat. He wrote about his growing up, and his family history, and he was very welcoming and pleased to see us at the seminars we attended.
Mike was very close with my friend and Xingyi instructor Jake Burroughs. For the last several days, Jake has posted updates and rememberences regarding the untimely passing of Mike. Jake has also posted some of the pictures and video's from various seminars Mike taught, please go to Jakes Blog "The Ground Never Misses" for more information.
The loss of Mike Martello, a friend and Master-level instructor is a huge blow to students, instructors and friends on three continents.
I'd like to close with an instructional video of a Bagua form that Mike taught us, "Xaio Kai Men", or "Small Opening Form". This is an example of Mikes teaching process, and his depth of knowledge. We will miss him terribly.

-- Thank you so much Mike, your spirit will live on in the friends you crossed hands with.

More information:
Mike Martello's Wikipedia page
Jake Burroughs The Ground Never Misses
Wu Tan Belgium


Brown Dragon said...

I did not know Mike Martello, but through his students and his love & devotion towards the martial arts, yes, I knew of him. In class tonight John (the author of the Dojorat blog), the other dojo rats, and myself all had a moment of remembrance and tilted our beverages to the departed teacher. It was John's words that reminded me - no matter what style you practice, no matter who your lineage is through, we who practice the martials arts in any or all of their various forms belong to one family or tribe if you will; we are a brotherhood, and when one passes it is a loss to us all. Especially when it is someone very accomplished.

So, I want to thank John for reminding me how special all the friendships are that I have developed with my mentors & teachers through our shared time in the arts... and how important it is as students to stay in touch with those men/women who have inspired us.

If you will excuse me now, I have to go write some letters.

Sean C. Ledig said...

Great. Another great one dies before I have a chance to train with him.

DR, you always wrote about Mike with such respect and affection. I'm sorry for your loss.

JoseFreitas said...

Wow.... that's terrible. nothing seemed to announce this. It's a blow to the community of people who love and practice the chinese martial arts. My condolences to his family, friends and students.

Kostas Tountas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Perry said...

Life truly is too short.

Charles James said...

DR and Associates:

"I am truly sorry you all lost him!"

Unknown said...


May god bless you always.
You were a great person, humble guy, and a good friend to everyone who knew you till the end.
Me and my brother Mark will miss you alot and will always have good memories of the times we played handball and hung out together growing up in Whitestone.
May God reward you in heaven for your pure spirit of love, peace, compassion, loyalty, honor and respect of tradition and all the good things you believed in and helped accomplished to make this world a better place for all those around you any place you went!

Thank you for sharing part of your life with us.

In heartfelt deepest sympathy your friend,

Tommy Mecir

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