From Humble Beginnings
Calasanz was born in the Dominican Republic, the sixth of eleven children. His parents owned a farm and had high expectations that their son would one day run the family business. In addition to working long hours on the farm, Calasanz did very well in school and took on the responsibility of protecting those around him who were the targets of gangs and bullies. Because he came to the rescue of those who were victimized, many of the townspeople loved and respected him.
As a young man, Calasanz’s vision was to become the most educated person in the Dominican Republic. Achieving this goal meant that he would have to leave the farm. Calasanz moved to the city of Santiago and enrolled in a prominent business school. For four years, all he did was work and study. He supported himself by painting cars and making cigars. He studied in the park and slept no more than two hours a night. This grueling schedule did not bother him because he was determined to fulfill his dream.
During this time, Calasanz saw his first martial arts demonstration and was immediately hooked. He had first been exposed to the martial arts when his father took him to see Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee. What excited him the most about the martial arts was the use of the legs as weapons. All his life, he had been fascinated with the natural and awesome power that could be generated by the human legs. One day on the farm, Calasanz was ordered to milk the nastiest cow. She did not want to be milked that day, so she kicked him in the stomach. Calasanz’s reflexes caused him to automatically kick her back and to his surprise, he knocked the cow out cold. From then on, he used his legs whenever he had to fight off gangs and bullies and found that this gave him a great advantage.
Calasanz immediately started training in the martial arts. The first style he studied was Goju-Ryu under the watchful eye of Master Tamajoshi Sakamoto. Farm life had prepared him for the heavy and intensive training that traditional Goju-Ryu karate demanded. Calasanz was determined to master this art and trained with 100% intensity.
In the meantime, Calasanz was working for Popular Bank. While he was quickly advancing in the professional ranks and well respected by his colleagues, he grew increasingly depressed at the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind a desk. He convinced the bank managers to send him to the United States to study English – where he attended the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. After a month in the United States, he contacted his managers and parents – telling them he was never coming back. He was determined to make it in America.
Establishing a lucrative martial arts business does not happen over night. It is not an easy endeavor, especially when you are new to this country and to American commerce. In an industry where many struggle just to keep the doors of the dojo open, Calasanz has managed to create a premiere martial arts training facility that is literally open from 4:00AM to 11:00PM. Calasanz paid his dues and made mistakes along the way as he carved a niche for himself in this tough business. His hope was that one day he could focus on training himself and his students and expand his system of martial arts training. No matter the obstacles, Calasanz persevered.
In 1990, Calasanz began a remodeling project on the warehouse that is now the Calasanz headquarters. At the same time, kickboxing was becoming increasingly popular and students were expressing an interest in getting in on the action. Calasanz had endured the brutality of street fighting as a young boy in the Dominican Republic where knock down fights over turf and defending family honor were common place. The system he created was practical, well balanced, and based on a lifetime of traditional training and untraditional street encounters. Calasanz knew however, that to be successful in the ring, one had to have the heart and soul of a fighter. While a teacher may confer skill and technique, what cannot be transferred from teacher to student is the fighting spirit. Calasanz was confident that his system could meet the challenge in the ring. For many years, he had tested his skill against martial artists and street fighters who eventually became some of Calasanz’s most loyal students.
Calasanz started promoting many high ranking martial artists like Frank Dux, the real life subject of the movie Bloodsport, whose character was played by Jean Claude Van Damme, and Paco Christian Prieto, of the movie Lionheart and Only the Strong. Calasanz has also had the privilege of training many celebrities including members of the Hartford Whalers professional hockey team, Cathy Cash Spellman, best selling author, whose most recent book, Bless The Child, was made into a movie by Paramount Pictures, tennis pro Ivan Lendl, record producer Donny K, Stephen Wilkes, Richard and Lorraine Venture, fine art photographer, Julie Nightingale, and the Stew Leonard family.
Inspired by the phenomenal achievements of physical (and often times metaphysical) strength, balance and grace by the spectrum of men, women and children who have trained in Calasanz’s Dojo (perhaps the largest and most fully equipped martial arts center in the country), Calasanz is now laying plans to expand and create new centers and media products that reach out internationally.
He believes you will sense from reading his book, perusing his website and someday visiting the Calasanz Dojo (an inspiring space which honors eastern architectural design and ancient wisdom … housing the physical training equipment and workout stations with a media room, library, bookstore, and a tea and nectar cafe … which is quickly becoming a town center where people come to nourish the mind, body and spirit), that his vision and impetus transcends that which has come before.