PAUL MORMANDO - MORMANDO MARTIAL ARTS:
STARTING FROM SCRATCH Tae Kwon Do Magazine
Touted as Brooklyn's own "Comeback Kid" in the NYC newspapers, Paul Mormando's goals have been broadened by his almost incapacitating accident.
Tremendous opportunities were awaiting Paul Mormando -- film offers, school expansions and a chance to really "make it" in his hometown of New York City when a rainy night almost ended all his dreams...
The time on the scoreboard at Shea Stadium reads 7:00 p.m. The crowd's attention is diverted to the home plate area where some men are lining up bricks with pieces of wood gently resting on top. Paul Mormando stands barefoot on the grassy surface behind the plate with is black belt proudly hanging off his waist. He stands in full concentration. Several members of the New York Mets jump on the top step of the dugout and focus their attention on the home plate area. The number 60 appears bright on the scoreboard. Mr. Mormando begins taking small steps to the row of boards arranged in front of him. The public address announcer alerts the crowd of this attempt at a new world record. "Go," yells the announcer. The time starts ticking away, 60... 59... 58...
For most people just surviving a near fatal auto accident is reason enough to feel lucky. For Paul Mormando, 33, it was a new beginning, a chance to learn more about himself and the calling that's been his best friend for over twenty years. It was a chance to grow into the title that had been awarded to him at such an early age and prove to the world as well as to himself that he, indeed, did have the stuff to become a formidable name in martial arts.
Performing one of his signature flying split kicks on the set of Over the Edge. He became involved in the entertainment industry when he appeared on the front page of a local newspaper and was spotted by an entertainment manager.
If ever there was a child prodigy in martial arts, Mormando was that child. He studied and, according to his instructors, quickly mastered many styles that included Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu and Kung-Fu. Mormando synthesized the martial arts he studied, putting together a new set of theories and self-defense combinations and calling it Cha Ki Do. He taught his new style in the basement of his home in Brooklyn, New York. Soon after, the World Professional Karate Association recognized the style of Cha Ki Do and issued Mr. Mormando a certificate that shocked many in the martial arts.
Moving out of his basement and into his first school, Mormando's love for teaching and performing grew. In the next five years, he opened a second school and their combined student population soon topped 500. His reputation of excellence in martial arts became known throughout the New York metropolitan area. The New York City Police Department hired him to teach new officers his specialized techniques and the New York Board of Education asked him to lecture about violence and the importance of self-discipline at numerous public schools where the students enthusiastically embraced him.
With that level of recognition, the entertainment field knocked on his door and he began to appear regularly on television shows such as NBC's Law & Order as well as in small roles in several action films and in theater. He even trained Madonna for a brief period.
Performing at Hard Rock Cafe's 25th Anniversary celebration in NYC. When asked who influenced him most in the martial arts, he says that Aaron Banks and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace are his role models.
Paul Mormando's career was in high gear with plans for opening a third and fourth school in the works as well as starring in Double Fist, an a-list film with Mark Wahlberg. But first there was the business of setting a world record for breaking 56 boards in 58 seconds at Shea Stadium in front of 25,000 people and over two million TV viewers. This new feat propelled Paul Mormando into the role of headliner at two huge martial arts exhibitions at Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Coliseum. Then came the night that would change his life forever. On a rainy night an out-of-control car slammed into the car that was carrying Paul. The accident left him in serious condition. The doctors told him to forget martial arts and concentrate on regaining the use of his legs for walking, not kicking.
Fear was an uncommon state for Paul Mormando but what his doctors told him about giving up the martial arts as the biggest scare of his life. Everything that he had worked for his entire life was in question and all he had was time to think about it as he lay in bed day after day after day. He decided to close his schools and cancelled all the plans he had for promoting himself and the martial arts.
Breaking a record at Shea Stadium in NYC.
The road back was far, long and lonely. After spending time with other patients with similar injuries, he realized how easy it could be for him to lose hope. He decided that he could not let that happen and set realistic goals for himself. He vowed, "If I get at least 50% of my power [in my body] back, I will rededicate myself [to] working with children and people who need extra help and attention."
Through courage, hope, belief and the will to succeed. Paul Mormando has regained most of his strength and says that he continues to grow stronger. He has committed himself to starting over again with new priorities in addition to a new school.
...the seconds on the scoreboard continue to wind down. Pieces of wood start flying in every direction. Having never seen this kind of display, the crowd rises in awe while keeping one eye on the scoreboard. While pounding the wood with every drop of his strength, he takes a deep breath as he approaches the few remaining boards. The crowd starts cheering louder and counting aloud 10... 9... 8. Paul Mormando drives his elbow through the last set of boards before the crowd starts chanting his name. His family and students jump all around him and begin celebrating with their images projected on the giant screen in the stadium. Among the broken pieces of wood and bricks stands Paul Mormando, a warrior. With a new record.
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