Interview with Pasco Costantino Sensei
1. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in 1959 at St John of God Hospital and raised in Geraldton.
2. Were you a particularly active kid at school?
3. What sports did you play?
I loved AFL but played cricket and soccer too.
4. Do you come from a sporting family?
5. How and when did you first become aware there was such a thing as Karate?
I guess I first became aware of karate in the Bruce Lee days back in the early 1970's. The opportunity arose to start karate in 1976 at the PCYC when my cousin, Tony Panuccio started about 2 weeks before with Herk. Herk is our longest standing Geraldton Karate Academy member and a good friend.
6. Who was your first Instructor?
Carl Marriot from Budokan style but we graded under Kuokushinkai, then shifted to Shotokan under KUA.
7. Are any of your early training partners still around training?
Yes, there's Herk Bianezos, and also previous students like Andrew Carey who now has his own dojo, Jason Merritt have all continued with training or have come back to training.
8. When did you first meet Takahashi Shihan?
In 1988, it was the first time I went to the National Seminar in Brisbane at Lang Park PCYC. That same year after the Nationals I was privileged to see the World Shoto Cup at Festival Hall in Brisbane. That's when I had my first real insight into the world of Shotokan Karate. It really impressed me and from that point on nothing else mattered, what I had done in the past didn't matter anymore. Shotokan was much more superior. Not being biassed.
9. When and where did you start training with him?
It was while I was still at PCYC and had taken over the training because Carl Marriot had shifted to Perth and as the highest rank; the role was automatically passed on to me. After the World Titles and Nationals, I decided to join JKA officially in 1988.
10. What did you expect training to be like?
More technical than in the past.
11. What do you remember about your very first session?
More hip twist
12. Where do you train now?
At the Geraldton Karate Academy (GKA), Carson Terrace, Geraldton Secondary College gymnasium.
13. What is your normal training routine?
Prior to injuring my ankle, I used to run regularly, run to a certain point, then do my katas and run back on the nights I was not training at the dojo. In the early days, I did weight training but couldn't keep it up because of work commitments. Now I just train at the dojo and occasionally go for a pushbike ride.
14. How long have you been teaching?
I started assisting from about 1981 at the PCYC when we were in KUA and in 1984 officially took over as dojo head in 1984.
15. Do any other family members train in TSKFA Karate?
Both my daughters have trained; my eldest daughter Alicia has continued and now assists me with classes. She is a third Dan black belt and a member of the TSKF Australian National Team. Also, my nephews have trained in the past, Joseph, Alfie and Damien Oliveri. In fact, young Damien achieved a shodan with AKF and was a State Champion and runner-up National Champion. Now I teach their children as well (the third generation).
16. Have you been involved in any other sports or Martial Arts?
Football, clay pigeon shooting, Kendo and Iai ( the art of drawing sword).
17. Over the years, who are the Karate people that have influenced you and why?
My first instructor Carl Marriot, for making me drive myself with the will to succeed and the will to go when I was with him. I trained with many international instructors from different organisations and each one of them had something special to offer and I took what I liked best from them. I haven't seen my first instructor for many years but I'll never forget what he's done for me. Now, Takahashi Shihan and the rest of the TSKFA/ISKF family.
18. Is there any one person more than most that you have tried to emulate?
I had the privilege in 1983 to train with Antonio Oliver who used to be the National Coach of Spain. He was doing a tour of Australia and when he came to WA I had the opportunity to get him to come to Geraldton for a training seminar. He was very technical in Kumite, not only technique but also in how to read your opponent. He was a real tactician.
19. Did you enjoy competing in your earlier years?
Yes, I did. It was a hard slog in the early years when we were affiliated with AKF and most competitions were held on Sundays and finished late. Ninety percent of the time we would drive home from Perth straight after the competition and then get up and go to work the next day. It was pretty demanding. On two occasions I was on the AKF Stateside so for two months we had to drive to Perth every Sunday for training. Sometimes we would try and make every alternate week but as the competition got closer it was every weekend.
20. Who were your major rivals in Australia at that time?
In AKF, a very nice bloke in the same weight division as myself, Steven Weir from Yoshikan. He was the Australian champion on many occasions.
21. What was your most memorable Kumite match?
Against him, one year it was for the state championship and I was runner up to him.
22. What is your favourite Kata and why?
At one stage I favoured Kanku-Sho but now find it pretty hard on the jumps. At the moment, Nijushiho or Sochin because there's no jumping involved and less strenuous on my ankle. Normally any kata, but now I'm a bit selective.
23. Everybody has things their body is well-suited for in Karate and vice-versa, what have you found particularly hard in general training and is there anything you find not so hard?
Some people might say I'm supple but I had to work hard at it. One thing I have noticed as I've gotten older is that sometimes I struggle with flexibility. Kicking was my strongest point.
24. What do you want to do in the future in Karate?
My goal is to try to bring out the best in my students regardless if they continue karate or not and hopefully try to help them to be better people. I would like to see if any of my kids take on their own classes. At the end of the day, I'd support anything they wanted to do, whether or not they take their karate in that direction.
25. Did you ever teach Karate for a living?
26. What do you think TSKFA Karate can offer people looking for a new sport or activity?
Definitely, if they stick with it, it builds character and confidence within themselves. A better understanding of what commitment is.
27. If the subject of Karate comes up in general conversation, do you like to talk to people and explain what you do?
Yes and No, it depends on what circle I'm in. As much as I love karate, I still like to talk about general things.
28. Have you ever needed to use Karate to protect yourself?
Gee Wizz. Nothing really to brag about. In all fairness, there have been confrontations, a bit push and shove, but maybe it's more just the way I approach people, nothing serious.
29. What do the Dojo-Kun and general Karate etiquette mean to you?
Basically, the Dojo-Kun means to bring the best out in the students. For example "Seek perfection in character" is to seek perfection in their own personality and being a good person by being courteous, respectful, sincere and faithful. To treat people the way you would want to be treated yourself. Everybody's not the same, some have stronger personalities, and some can be egotistical. Basically, the way people treat me, I treat them back.
30. You've trained in Japan, what did you learn from your visits there?
You have to be totally switched on with total commitment. When I was there it was fun, but when it came time for training it was time to get down to business.
31. Were you able to pass any new or improved techniques to your students and did your own Karate improve after visiting Japan?
Yes, just a complete attitude of etiquette in the dojo. Maybe I was a bit harsh when I got back but it's a sad fact that as Australians we are a bit lazy.
32. Have you ever trained seriously with another Karate group or style?
In the early days when we were under AKF and learning different style katas from Goju-Ryu and Shito-Ryu
33. Why did you choose the Shotokan style?
My first instructor changed to Shotokan under KUA from Budokan. Then from there, I like the style but there was something missing until I joined JKA, and now our own organisation, TSKFA.
34. How do you think your Karate will develop in the future?
Hope it gets better. I still have a lot to learn, that's the beauty of TSKFA there is always something to learn. Karate is like a book of secrets and you never stop learning.
35. What do you do in your spare time? Any other big interests outside of the Dojo?
I like fossicking around the back yard, I like doing home improvements and like growing vegetables.
36. What do you think is the one most important thing about Karate training?
To keep striving for perfection, you have to train to keep the mind and body going. Obviously, as you get older it gets a little difficult, especially if you get up early every day for work and have a demanding job. “You must use it or you lose it!”
37. What has been the most memorable moment of your Karate experience?
There have been many memories. It's difficult to choose, but when my own daughter, Alicia, won at the Nationals and making the Australian team; that was special. Like any parent you are proud to see your kids achieve.