Loukas Kastrounis was born in Athens, Greece in a good family environment. His father, George Kastrounis, was a well known Master Violin player and this influenced Loukas to study the piano. But unfortunately Louka's father died when he was only 10 years old. He was forced to grow up without much family support and began to cope with day to day survival. Loukas' younger years were spent enjoying sports such as swimming and football (he was goalkeeper) and with much dedication he continued his musical and general education before he began studying Hotel Management and Catering. Afterwards he started working in hotels, bars and discotheques in Greece.
As Loukas was growing up the Bruce Lee explosion began to happen in Greece. Although he thoroughly enjoyed the films, Loukas viewed the fighting scenes as untrue and simply as a good form of entertainment. However, Kung Fu was not popular in Greece at the time and the closest thing on offer was Karate. The way Loukas saw this Karate was that it had a greater focus on sport and belt grading, etc., and this was not really what he was looking for.
In Japan it can take up to 15 years of daily training before you become a black belt in Karate. Here with just 5 years training and two relatively easy lessons a week a black belt could be achieved. Through his interest in martial arts and boxing he discovered the beauty of fighting arts but following visits to boxing clubs to see what they could offer, he decided not to join up. Why? Well, as he puts it, why pay to have someone break your nose and teach you to get hit when you could go on the streets and get it done for free! As a person Loukas has a disbelieving nature so it took some time before he believed what martial arts (and eventually Wing Chun) could offer.
Loukas was still fascinated by boxing and martial arts and the way they could be used to look after oneself. He started training in a martial art called 'complete' Wing Chun, but through reading books and analyzing what he was taught he felt something was missing.
At the age of 19 he was drafted into the Greek army between November 1976 - June 1979 (30 months) as a personal driver and bodyguard to a Greek Colonel. After leaving the army Loukas spent most of his time with his family, working and training. In his late twenties in 1986 he came to England for fun and began working in pubs and disco/clubs and continued his career in the entertainment industry as a General Manager. In order to survive and to support his family during the 1990's recession in the UK he also started working as a doorman.
Lucas Kastrounis training the long pole at the Basement 2000While working in the UK, Loukas continued his search for a good Wing Chun Kung Fu school and counts himself very lucky to have had the chance to attend a Nino Bernardo seminar being held at the time at the legendary Basement in London. Through this one seminar Loukas believed he had found the truth behind Wing Chun that he had been searching for. Loukas then began as a private student of Nino's for the first 2 years and afterwards he continued progressing in his Wing Chun and Kali studies at the Basement in London, under the supervision of Nino Bernardo and his senior students.
The Basement closed its doors in September 2000. Before Nino moved for good to Ibiza, Spain, Loukas was given a personal letter by his teacher, signed as a friend and as teacher, to thank him for his time at the Basement and for what Lucas and his students have done for Wing Chun.
Nino taught Loukas that by learning to control one's ego, anger and pride in Wing Chun, the same attributes could be applied to improve one's everyday life.
Nino Bernardo and Wing Chun were to make Loukas realize that you have to understand yourself; then you can understand and help your friends, family, children and students to also discover the truth and not to force but wait. Wing Chun does not teach you knowledge, it teaches you to learn and discover one-self from your own feelings and emotions. Wing Chun makes you think faster, re-act faster. You need to practice it regularly. It is not just because you read, see or are told something that you know it. Wing Chun also can help you in your every day life. It is more than a system of fighting; it is also a system of thought.
Enjoy the journey in Wing Chun Kung Fu or Kali and it might change your life.
Stars in action film "Game Over"
September 2008 Lucas acted in an action-combat martial arts film "Game Over " in March 2009 The film was released at the short films festival in Italy . Swiss, Japan , Austria , L.A. USA & many other European countries.
The short film has won first position at the Tokyo short film festival, it was a semi finalist at, 2009 Hollywood USA & it had screened in Rome , Italy on Sunday the 18th October 2009 for the International Film Festival 2009
2013 Interviewed by Sport Tv "Kosmos" in Greece
2014 Interviewed by BBC2 TV & BBC Radio in UK
2014 Wing Chun Documentary by Sport Tv "Kosmos" in Greece
Franco Regalzi nasce nel 1960 a Tortona, si avvicina alla ginnastica artistica a 12 anni per poi, un anno dopo, intraprendere lo studio delle Arti Marziali. Per molti anno pratica Judo, Karate, alcuni stili di Kung Fu, l’Arnis filippino e gli sport da combattimento come la Boxe Occidentale e il Full Contact. Nel 1987 conosce il Wing Chun per caso, tramite un allievo di Nino Bernardo. Franco così inizia a studiare con Sifu Nino Bernardo il quale, dopo qualche anno di permanenza e insegnamento in Italia, torna a Londra lasciando a Franco il compito di proseguire lo sviluppo della scuola italiana di Wing Chun, oggi punto di riferimento in Italia ed in Europa per questa disciplina e oggi ancor più con la creazione della nuova associazione EWCA risultato della fusione della scuola italiana e di Reading. Franco si allenó inoltre con il maestro Wong Shun Leung. Il maestro Wong si accorse subito della serietà e dell’impegno di Franco nel Wing Chun tanto che accettó di venire spesso in Italia per dei seminari e per conoscere la scuola del maestro Franco Regalzi, dove fu ospitato più volte fino all’anno prima della sua scomparsa nel 1997.
"Martial Arts is to train hard and efficient, learn skills, to be used at any time and to be useful in all things.....
"Think clear and honest,
Know the advantages & disadvantages of you self /skills,
Understand what is cannot be seen,
Focus ,attention to small things
Use simple & practical skills to get out of the unpleasant situation"
Your skills must be useful in real situation!!
Loukas Kastrounis wing chun kung fu
Founder /Leading authority of the European wing chun Association
Yip Man was a native of Namhoi Country of Kwangtung Provice. He lived in Futshan, one of the four most famous towns of Southern China. Futshan is regarded as the place of origin of Chinese Kung-Fu
Yip Man began studying Wing Chun at the age of nine after he was admitted as a student by Chan Wah Shun. From then on he became Chan Wah Shun`s youngest disciple. He was in fact the last disciple admitted by Chan Wah Shun.
From the above description, it becomes clear that Chan Wah Shun did not make any mistake in accepting Yip Man, and his success afterwards was due to his master's un-reserved teaching and of course the dedication and effort he put into his studies. His success in his career was not merely a matter of good fortune.
His teacher died when Yip Man was thirteen years old. During his last minutes Chan said to his disciple Ng Chung So "Yip Man is a clever boy and more gifted than the other boys".
Yip Man continued his studies under the guidance of Si-Hing (senior) Ng Chung So, Yuen Kay Shan and Yiu Choi.
After two years he left and went to Hong Kong. On one occasion he was introduced to Leung Bik, the son of Leung Jan (the Si-Fu of Chan Wah Shun) and there he furthered his studies under Leung Bik.
Yip Man always said he received a good foundation in Wing Chun from his teacher Chan Wah Shun and sophisticated techniques from Leung Bik.
In 1949 he set up a Wing Chun Kwoon (school) in Hong Kong and admitted students. During the following thirty years he worked as a martial arts teacher and so far has produced more than five hundred thousand students, who helped spread to Wing Chun to all corners of the globe.
Amongst the students of Yip Man, Wong Shun Leung was one of the most well known and also stayed with his Si-Fu up to his dying days.
Sifu Wong Shun Leung was better known as Gong Sau Wong (king of talking with the hands). Throughout the 50s and 60s he was undefeated in all of his challenges.
A young Wong Shun Leung first learnt boxing but was then introduced to Yip Man's Wing Chun school as a prospective student. His awesome reputation began at a time when challenges were held on the roof tops of buildings.
The reputation of Wong Shun Leung's skills were incomparable, but Yip Man was concerned that Wong would give a bad name to his Kwoon by challenging other Kung Fu schools.
There were no tournament fights as conducted in the west, with rules and protective equipment. Instead, there were full contact fights between representatives of various schools in Hong Kong. Wong Shun Leung was said to have "let his hands do the talking" by winning all the challenges.
In one such match, arranged by a reporter working for the newspaper of the day, Wong Shun Leung was set to fight a giant Russian boxer named Giko who weighed approximately 18-19 stone and towered over Wong by over 12 inches (Wong weighed in at around 9½ stone and 5foot 6inches). The outcome was Wong Shun Leung defeating the giant Russian with just three punches!
After the match the reporter asked Wong Shun Leung if he was the "best fighter in the world?" Wong replied simply, "No ... I am the second best." The reporter's response was, "then who is?" and Wong replied, "I have not met him yet."
Despite his awesome reputation as a fighter, Wong Shun Leung was not a violent man yet he revelled in the chance to test his skills and the effectiveness of Yip Man's art. He used to say that he did not learn Wing Chun just to go out and fight, instead "Kung-fu should really be used as a way of protecting yourself in circumstances where you are physically threatened. After I learnt the skills of wing chun from Yip Man, I often had the opportunity to test them. By experimenting with my skills I could discover their limitations and how they compared with other disciplines and so improve myself."
With the approval of Yip Man, Wong Shun Leung begun teaching Wing Chun from his home as well as helping his teacher, Yip Man, conduct lessons at the Kwoon.
Although Bruce Lee started off learning Wing Chun at Yip Man's school, he also studied with Wong at his home, upon where the student / teacher relationship began. Bruce Lee as a young student was often cheeky and on more than one occasion after Bruce had finished training sessions at Yip Man's Kwoon, he'd rush to Wong's house in order to arrive before his "Si-Hing and Si-Dei" (elder and younger Kung Fu brothers) and so as to get Wong's full attention, he would say to the other students who'd turn up that Wong Shun Leung was tired and unable to do the lessons on that day. To make sure he was not caught out he would go to the extremity of walking the other students to their bus stops! Eventually Wong became aware of this and gave to his young disciple a realistic lesson (with black eyes, split lip and bloody nose).
For the next several years, apart from the occasional visit from Bruce Lee to Hong Kong for filming or family visits, his relationship with Wong Shun Leung continued through written correspondence. Wong Shun Leung carried a letter from Bruce Lee in his wallet saying that, "Even though I am technically a student of Yip Man, in reality I learnt my Kung Fu from you".
Over the years Wong Shun Leung's success was related to teaching Bruce Lee, but according to what Wong Shun Leung said "Bruce was nothing special in his class," so it is unfair for Wong Shun Leung to be remembered only as Bruce Lee's teacher.
Around 1967, a young Nino Bernardo, at the age of 20, begun his Wing Chun training under the guidance of Wong Shun Leung in Hong Kong. Nino Bernardo was informed about Wong Shun Leung through a Chinese monk in a monastery whilst searching for a good Wing Chun teacher. Nino completed the entire system of Wing Chun in Hong Kong and developed a very close relationship with his teacher.
In the 1980's Nino Bernardo opened his Kwoon, The Basement (situated in London), and became the main representative of Wong Shun Leung in Europe.
On January 12th 1997 whilst myself, Lucas Castrounis, founder and teacher of the Reading Academy of Wing Chun & Kali, was training at the Basement, Nino received a phone call from Hong Kong telling him that Wong Shun Leung had suffered a massive stroke and had subsequently fallen into a coma. Sixteen days later, on the 28th of January 1997, the Legend Wong Shun Leung passed away.
Wing Chun has gained a lot from Wong Shun Leung and his legacy continues today through his existing students all around the world. Wong Shun Leung has taken Wing Chun to a different level and was an extraordinary person and teacher.
Self-defence is only an illusion, a dark cloak beneath which lurks a razor-sharp dagger waiting to be plunged into the first unwary victim. Whoever declares that any weapon manufactured today, whether it be a nuclear missile or a .38 special, is created for self-defence should look a little more closely at his own image in the mirror. Either he is a liar or is deceiving himself. Wing Chun kung fu is a very sophisticated weapon - nothing else. It is a science of combat, the intent of which is the total incapacitation of an opponent. It is straightforward, efficient and deadly. If you're looking to learn self-defence, don't study Wing Chun. It would be better for you to master the art of invisibility.
Wong Shun Leung
Nino Bernardo's school in London, The Basement, was open from 1984 and closed December 2000.
Sifu Nino Bernardo's famous Wing Chun Kung Fu School, "The Basement", opened its doors back in 1984. It was there that Nino Bernardo developed his reputation as one of Europe's most skilful and influential Wing Chun teachers. He was also Wong Shun Leung's senior UK representative until Sifu Wong's untimely death in 1997.
The school was located in the basement of a building close to a council estate on 60-64 Matthias Road, Stoke Newington, North London, NI6 8QD - not the most up-market area of London. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
The front gate of the building displayed a small, simple sign - the "Basement" logo. People went there only by word of mouth or if a person who already trained there had invited them. It was impossible to find the place unless you knew a student of the school or Nino himself had invited you.
Nino had no secret techniques and no secret school, he had a training school that he called his "play pen" and it had very friendly atmosphere. Here, the Wing Chun training was hard, honest and efficient, and there were no colourful belts or uniforms. Very soon the reputations of the Basement and Nino started to spread fast all over the world. During the 80's and 90's everyone within the martial arts world was speaking about the Basement school but only a few people knew its exact location.
Over the years the Basement has gained an almost mythical status. People have even questioned whether it ever really existed. It was a simple place but it had a magical feeling. It is impossible for me to describe this feeling; however, if I were to attempt a description, I would say it was like magic without magic.
As soon as you walked past the front door you would see students sweating, working hard and intensely but always with harmony among them and a respect for the system and each other. The training was so intense at times that injuries were inevitable. However, the Basement was the only place where if you did get hit, you would start laughing at your own mistake. Back then we all accepted that what we were studying was a martial art and as such it carried the inherent risk of injury but at the same time people didn't deliberately try to injure each other. From time to time, Nino would make everyone laugh and relax by telling one of his good old jokes, which most of the time had a deeper meaning behind them.
The Basement had four walls, no windows, and a small extractor fan. It did not have changing-rooms, chairs or sofas to sit down on; nor was it air-conditioned or heated. In the winter, you could see your breath as you did your forms, and during chi-sao training, the mirrors and walls would be dripping with condensation. The left wall had a drawing of a dragon, and in the middle of this dragon, the word "Basement" was written; however, you had to pay attention in order to be able to see it.
On the main wall of the basement was a wooden dummy (Muk Yan Chong), which had been given to Nino by Wong Shun Leung's brother. It was made by one of the most well-known dummy-makers in Hong-Kong at the time. Above the dummy was a picture of Nino's teacher/Sifu, the legendary Wong Shun Leung. (Wong was better known as "Gong Sau Wong" (king of talking with the hands). Throughout the 50's and 60's he was undefeated in all of his challenges and known as one of Yip Man's best students as well as the foremost instructor of Bruce Lee.
On each side of the wooden dummy were two calligraphic scrolls, given to Nino by Wong. These scrolls, which were written in Cantonese, stated that the Basement was a kwoon (school) approved personally by Wong who had authorised Nino to teach Wing Chun in the UK.
On the left hand side of the wooden dummy I remember always seeing Nino's unicycle, which he would sometimes ride while simultaneously teaching. Sometimes, he would pick up and play his guitar. He even invented a new game called 'sucker ball', which was demonstrated on BBC TV and in the USA. Make no mistake, the training was always serious but Nino always had a colourful, eccentric and unique style of teaching and delivery during the Basement years.
The Basement itself and all the senior students (Si-Hings) had class, style and a love for the Wing Chun Kuen Kung Fu system. Nino and his Basement students also had reputations for being intelligent, good fighters.
Over the years, many students from around the world and from a wide array of professions, including actors, musicians, professors, managers and doctors, came and trained at the Basement. In addition to this, seasoned martial artists, teachers and students from various disciplines including Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do, as well as Special Forces from the UK and abroad also trained there.
Dan Inosanto, Gass Magda, editor/reporter and martial artist – Bey Logan, and Larry Hartsell are just a few examples of the well-known martial artists that visited and trained at the Basement. Of course, Sifu Wong Shun Leung, who visited Nino, also gave regular seminars at the Basement, in London.
Nino, with his charismatic teaching and his clever ability to deliver the Wing Chun system, together with his students, placed the Basement at the centre of attention within and outside the martial arts world – in my, and many other's opinions, it was like the 'Mecca' of the Wing Chun schools.
The Basement no longer exists, having closed its doors in December 2000, but its legacy will live on forever. There will never be another place like "The Basement" but its name will shine for years to come and it will be remembered forever through each Wing Chun teacher and practitioner it has produced.
Nino has now moved to Ibiza, Spain where he has set up Europe's first alternative Kung Fu school. His emphasis in recent years has been on the importance of learning Wing Chun for health and personal development. I consider myself very lucky to be one of Nino Bernardo's students, and to have had the opportunity to train at the Basement. It was there where I learnt Wing Chun, about myself and in essence, was re-born. It was there where I made my best and true friends, who I am still in touch with and train with to this day.
Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco but at three months old his family moved back to Hong Kong. He started training in martial arts mainly to over come his fear of being humiliated in a street fight - as a teenager he got into more and more fights for no apparent reason.
If he did not win he was furious! He always considered himself a winner and losing even once in a while was unbearable to him. As a result of his continued fighting he was looking for an efficient martial art to defend himself. Then his friend William Cheung, student of Yip Man and presently a teacher in Australia, introduced him to the Yip Man Kwoon (school).
Under the guidance of Sifu Wong Shun Leung, he studied the system of Wing Chun kung fu and immediately showed natural talent, although at the beginning of their student/teacher relationship, Wong Shun Leung found Bruce Lee to be quite lazy in his approach to training. Consequently his progress in the art was relatively slow. However after witnessing first hand Wong Shun Leung's fighting skills, Bruce Lee began to take his training far more seriously and he steadily improved. As a result, Bruce Lee became a proficient martial artist, not to mention a feared street fighter.
Prior to being introduced to Wing Chun kung fu, Bruce Lee studied several different types of kung fu but eventually chose this one over all the others as he felt it to be the most effective. Bruce Lee had to stop his studies of Wing Chun in his fourth year and had to leave Hong Kong to take up academic studies in the U.S.A. Despite this, he remained in close contact with Wong Shun Leung.
Yip Man reminded him before leaving for America that the Chinese need kung fu techniques to defend themselves and to stay in good health, and that techniques of Wing Chun should not be taught freely to foreigners, (it was the typical Chinese traditional thinking of the old kung fu masters!). Bruce Lee promised to bear that in mind before leaving for the U.S.A.. However, on arrival he wanted to continue his training but could not find any school which displayed the efficiency of Yip Man's Wing Chun school. Therefore, he started up a gym, admitted students and taught them Wing Chun kung fu.
That was the beginning of Wing Chun's world wide spread, till then it was a closed door only allowing Chinese. Afterwards he used his Wing Chun knowledge to pursue a movie career in Hollywood.
Through his research into martial arts with the basis and concepts of Wing Chun, he developed his techniques into Jeet Kune Do / JKD, which he taught his own students (including the well known Guru Dan Inosanto) and for which he became famous.
Bruce Lee incorporated the theories of Wing Chun kung fu into his Jeet Kune Do / JKD and included some Chinese philosophies such as Taoism. Unfortunately at the age of thirty-two he passed away but left behind a legacy. During his life time, no other 20th century man did more to bring martial arts to the attention of the general public than Bruce Lee, a martial artist and a superstar.
Bruce Lee is gone, but his influence will remain forever.
Wong Shun Leung