Tuesday, 2 June 2009

In Memoriam Sifu Mike Martello

Our dear and beloved teacher and fierce friend Mike Martello has passed away today. He will be sorely missed by all his friends and students in Belgium and the rest of the world. His absence will leave a void that will not easily be filled.
Please feel free to add any thoughts, remembrances or anecdotes.

Onze dierbare en geliefde leraar en vriend Mike Martello is vandaag overleden. Zijn leerlingen en vrienden in Belgie en de rest van de wereld zullen hem zeer hard missen. Zijn afwezigheid zal een leegte achterlaten die nog heel moeilijk gevuld zal kunnen worden.
Alle herinneringen, gedachten of anekdotes zijn welkom.

The brothers and sisters from Wu Tan Belgium are helping to prepare Mike Martello Laoshi's funeral. The last few days have been very very difficult for Laoshi's family, friends and students. Most of us need the silence and time to be with Mike Laoshi. Many of us grieved differently as Laoshi has touched each of our heart in a personal way.

What is nice to see are fellow Kung Fu brothers and sisters from over the world to stand as one family and remember teacher Mike as a wonderful, funny, honest, generous, talented and wise person who have lived his life to the fullest by doing what he loved most.

A tribute blog has been made by Jake, Keith Weiner and Kin:

From our German friends:

The Ground Never Misses:

From Formosa Neijia:

Dojo Rat:

Many of you know that Mike Laoshi had lots of video footage on the internet about his art, as he was very generous in passing it to others. This has been talked about in many blogs and it is happening fast. However, please respect his teachings by remembering what he taught was most important for any students:

soft power
correct body allignment
relaxed but aware
don't rush

above all:

basics, basics, basics

Only by respecting his teachings we can continue Mike Laoshi's spirit and what he really stood for: True Chinese Martial Arts in a True Soul.


ggeekk said...

he was an excellent sifu. he will be missed. what happened? it's so sudden.

rosamei said...

Mike had Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome, which caused tachycardia. He always laughed and said, "I have a wolf in my heart," but he was so strong, we were sure he would live til 100. Even when he was training to be a fireman in NY, he passed the tests with flying colors, could have saved an elephant from a burning building, but his EKG was off the charts erratic, and they told him his heart could give out at any time. Even so, he lived his life with no regrets. He was a genius martial artist and a good man down to the marrow.

Nigel Ainscoe said...

As a Wutan student from the UK I was lucky to train with Mike once when I staying in Antwerp. He was a fantastic and truly inspirational teacher and I was disappointed that I was not able to train more with him. His skill and devotion to martial arts will truly be missed. I hope the Antwerp school will be able to carry on and continue his mission. RIP Mike.

Ruud said...

I'll never forget Sifu mike, he opened my eyes to real Chinese martial arts. The times we spent training, laughing, eating, talking,...in Antwerp. A part of him lives on in me and in so many of us...Mike is all around now. Let's keep his spirit alive.

Ruud said...

I'll never forget Sifu mike, he opened my eyes to real Chinese martial arts. The times we spent training, laughing, eating, talking,...in Antwerp. A part of him lives on in me and in so many of us...Mike is all around now. Let's keep his spirit alive.
I'll miss you my friend


Wu tan Belgium said...

" Don't be me, but be yourself and be all you can be."

My only true sifu Mike Martello once told me...

dhc said...

I was very lucky to study with Sifu Michael Martello back in the mid-1990s at New York Wu Tang. I was just a teenager at the time. Michael was one of those students who loved to share and teach, not to boast, but to improve his fellow students. I was there when he joined the Wu Tang system. I'm proud of how strongly he has become, and what he has made of himself, and the system. Just know that he will live on in all of his students and their students as well.

Puja said...

I'm still in deep shock and sadness over this terrible loss. I stil remember the first time we met at Jake's Seminar in Germany, the first time he sweeped the floor with me at Jochen's living room, the first time I came to Antwerp and we watched Family Guy together, had BBQ,...
We will all deeply miss him, he'll never be forgotten, he'll live on in all of us who knew and appreciated him for the great man he was.
My condolences to the brothers and sisters in Belgium, to the family and friends.
Warm regards from Beijing,

Alexander said...

It was shocking and very very sad news for me. Mike was the really great man and one of the few martial artists who was able to feel the soul of kung fu and share it with others.
From Russia with love.

Wu tan Belgium said...

From Mike Laoshi's friend: Formosaneija:


Wu tan Belgium said...

Also from Mike Laoshi's friends: dojorat


Koen said...

I too was a student of Mikes' at Wu Tan Belgium. His departing came as a great shock to me. Mike was - and will remain to be in all of our hearts - a great man. May he continue to be an inspiration to us all.

RICARDO said...

Much to soon,you have left us.You always said to me"The Martial Art passion is in your hart".
If that is the truth then it means that you will always live on in my thoughs and memory.
On behave of the martial arts world...Thank you..
Sifu Mike Rest in Peace!

Sifu John Hum said...

Goodbye Mikeee. My friend , my brother. So many good times and memories. Can't believe that you're gone. I'll miss you.

"Like the ripples in a pond, the work of one man can spread out and touch the lives of so many others".

Kevin said...

it was only the last few months that I refound in myself the spirit that Sifu tried to bring over, a spirit I had when I started training with him in the beginning, but that I somehow lost along the way. " kung fu means to put time and energy into something. A cook who makes good food, has good kung fu". I started to feel more connected to the school. Now I sit here, thinking of a way to make him proud, thinking of a way to honour him. And crying my head off. He was always so deep in my heart and my soul, and I never realized it. Sifu, thank you for your love, your passion and dedication. Thank you for chosing Belgium 8 years ago.you'll be with me always, and I really do hope to see you again someday.

Bruce said...

Goodbye my dear kung fu uncle. I will always remember your visit to Ottawa and teaching us the pikua form. Rest in peace.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for everything, for having me at the beginning, for the Beijing camp, the camp in Herentals, the weekly training sessions and your patience and passion when teaching. Thanks for so many other things, ... . You will always be there whenever practicing kungfu.

Missing you.
RIP Mike.

Johan Leys.

Adam said...

Sifu Martello paid us a visit in Ottawa, and all of Wutan Canada fell in love with his character, his nature and his desire and willingness to teach. I still vividly remember the practice sessions, the food afterwards, and watching old Wutan videos in my apartment with Sifu Martello, Sifu Hum and the rest of the Ottawa Wutan crew. We will miss you, but your memories and teachings will live on.

Carl said...

Ik heb het trieste nieuws gisteren van Tom Vervoort vernomen en ben zwaar aangedaan! Ik kende Mike van in 2002 en zijn open en eerlijke houding sprak me onmiddellijk aan. Zijn verlangen om te delen was groot evenals zijn kunde. Trainen met hem was gewoonweg een droom: alle hoeken van de dojo zien en toch niet gebroken, maar wel voldaan, terug naar huis gaan. Ik heb alleen maar spijt dat de voorwaarden voor mij niet voldoende waren om sinds 2002 bij hem te blijven. Ondanks dat ben ik geregegeld op zijn (jullie) site blijven kijken en leefde ik in stilte naar het ogenblik toe waarop ik terug bij hem zou kunnen komen trainen en … blijven. Ik droomde er zelfs van om ooit samen met hem en andere leerlingen samen te wonen. Hij was de enige vechtkunstmeester die me écht aansprak, ook als persoon. Een andere wil ik niet. Mike heeft mij zeer diep geraakt en dat besef ik pas ten volle nu!!! Ik wens dan ook alle leden van het Wutang-instituut, zijn beste vrienden, en de mede-organisatoren heel veel sterkte in de verwerking van dit onherstelbare verlies en de juiste beslissingen in hoe het verder moet.
Dear Mike no one like you will ever live on in my memory like you, no one has ever touched me as profound as you. I always felt appreciated and welcome. Thank you so much for your true kindness.
Karel (Carl)

vincent said...

I just took it all for granted: the classes, the dinners, the friendship,...
He was just downstairs teaching in our space and i never once stopped to think that maybe I should train more, be a better friend to him, a better student, because maybe someday he wouldn't be here anymore.
This whole thing is so stupid.

Anonymous said...

安息 Mike

Anonymous said...

It was strange I came to the club and the doors were closed. I thought that they were training on the outside. So I went to the place but no-one was there. I came back to read my mail and then it all was clear. After one phone there was no mistake.
I joined the club not so long ago. People told me to go to Mike. The best advice I could get. What I heard, saw, felt and learned from Mike in such a short time is amazing. There where so many times that i was litteraly submerged by all what Mike tried to learn us.
I'll miss him for sure.


Tom Vervoort said...

Thank you Mike,that you helpt me to become the man I am today!Thank you for the moment's That We shared with you and our kung-fu family!Thank's Mike!

Magaly said...

Mike is the person who made it possible for me to be in China, training with great kungfu masters.
Now, i have the feeling that i should train double the amount i alread was training, just to not loose anything he thaught me. So yesterday i went to train with Zhang Laoshi.
I realise only now that everytime i trained with the Chinese teachers, i also did it for Mike. I always had in mind that when i'd go back to Belgium i could show him what they've taught me, so he would be happy with my progress and make him proud.
Now i just don't know anymore... I'm totally confused and lost.

So i'm totally counting on my kungfu-brothers and sisters to keep our family together, because Mike put something of himself in each one of us. And i think that together we can still keep Mike alive among us.


marina said...

True angels leave early.
Shattered, lost, immensely sad.
Tonight I saw 3 young blackbirds learn how to fly - falling? flying?
I heard a voice inside my head say: "practice! looks easy, not easy. oh no. practice. it's your life, you can do it."

I think of him and what he gave us constantly. His passion. Miss him.
In loving and respectful memory of this great man, our teacher.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike
Elly and me have just tried to do some training.... any kung fu we know we learnt from you...
one of the last things you learnt me was how difficult it was to play with somebody else...feeling what they want...what happens in the outside world and then to go along with this...
like you not being there right now...
how to go along with that
it s like the most amazing thing you ever showed us... just to become the chi that surrounds us now, as it was always difficult to touch/push you,now it became totally impossible...
so it seems we can only go along with it, breath it in and flow with that beautiful energy...
Thank you 4 all these teachings... don t think it ever gets any more profound in life then this

We are missing you a crazy lot
Keep strong to all our kung fu brothers and sister that also lost their fungfu father last tuesday, to family ,friends and loved ones

sweet goodbye

Elly en Sigurd

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike Laoshi,

Before I went to Beijing visiting Magaly, which wasn't that long ago, you showed me a detail in a form. You were standing in a stance and we couldn't move you, you were like a mountain and yet relax and calm like the sea.

I wondered why I couldn't do it, my legs would shake and my body felt powerless in that stance. You told me that I haven't practiced my stances. You were telling me off in a way my parents would do, because you cared about my progress.

This is how I feel about you, I have lost a father. Of those four years I was so lucky to attend your school, I saw so many people living in uncertainties, afraid of living their lives to the fullest and going 100 percent for their dreams. Yet you were there, showing them all what it means to live.

I will remember you as the little guy sitting in front of the old training space, the Kattendijkdok, who actually turned out to be the only big guy with a biggest heart. Like the Indian in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest" told Jack Nickolson: "YOU are the big guy".

Thank you sifu, for those inspirational four years, for bringing me back to my roots, for blessing me with the girl I love so much, for being a friend and a father.

As for your teaching, you knew what you were doing from the beginning: by teaching us the basics, you have not give us your own achievement, but more important, you have given us the seed of your success, and it is up to us to take care of the blossoming of our own flower.

Thank you sifu.


Kris said...



I 've been visiting these pages for a few days now, but never found the right words to put a comment. Now I realise I can only say thanks. For everything.

Thanks for the years of training and friendship.
Thanks for sharing it all.
Thanks for putting me with my feet on the ground.
Thanks for being mad at me when I really needed it...
Thanks for lifting me up and filling me with energy.
Thanks for all the nice moments.
Thanks for laughing together.
Thanks for crying together when, just this once, we hurt each others feelings.
Thanks for showing me it all DOES matter...

Thanks for just being so real, Mike.

I will miss you, my good friend.
Things will never be the same...

I feel privileged to have enjoyed so much time together as a student and a friend. You were like a father to me.

Thanks for everything.
RIP, Mike.


Anonymous said...

My condolences and good luck in these hard times with all the kung fu students/friends and family.

(A kung fu student from Sifu Horton from the Netherlands)

鄭庭興 said...


kevin kuo (from taipei) said...

my best frient
my good teacher
i always miss you

kevin kuo (from taipei) said...

my best frient
my good teacher
i always miss you

Bailung e.V. said...

It will be difficult in different ways for all of us.
It still yelling inside of me: It should not be true!
But I fear it is.

I put some more footage from seminars with Mike up. So we can larn. While I cut the clips, tears were running down my face. But still this is how I will always remember him: teaching.

You can find the clips at my YT Account: JochenWolf

Hao-Cheng Wang said...

Mike and Wang

Anonymous said...


Ollie said...

when i met Michael in antwerp six years ago i was not at all in sports nore at least in MA,zero talent, no mind at all to process movement...with all his love and patience and dilligence
he showed me this dimension of my own body, this gave me a second life,
he told me many times : ollie you re a buddhist, i ll turn you in a taoist...and so we did together, this living in the body and understanding how it works just while walking the streets ore cooking food will for always stay within me now, and so i thank you Michael many times ..
having the possibility to have met
you was the winning ticket out the lottery. i can t see who else could have done the job...
miss you amigo

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike, hello Kung Fu friends,

Although I was a Kung Fu student of Mike for only half a year and it is already some years ago, the news of Mike's passing away really shocked me and it still really feels as a loss.
I stopped practising Kung Fu because of many reasons and although I'm back in Antwerp, I didn't choose to train again. But the things I've learned, still linger in my mind and I also believe that some day Kung Fu will meet my path again or I will choose to let it meet my path again. The loss I feel is probably the fact that it's now not possible anymore to do it in the presence of Mike.

That's why I want to say hello and say thank you to Mike and to all the other students and friends I trained with. I want to support also there sadness because they've lost there master while they were still training. Maybe I'll come to meet you all at one of the memorial services, but I've not decided yet.

Last but not least I want to say that I experienced Mike as a very strong man and I think that probably a part of his spirit came out of the way he carried this disease that made his life too short. And that's why I really want to thank him for everything he was and did...


TOMMY 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

Gareth Jenkins said...

Just found out about this: I'm shocked and deeply saddened.

Sifu Mike Martello came over to the UK to teach us Miao Dao and Chin-Na in 2007.

I'll never forget the evening he taught us Chin-Na - not only did I learn so much but I also never laughed so much in all my life, it was a magical evening.

He had a rarely thorough knowledge of Kung Fu, twinned with a touching honesty and sense of humour.

Great guy, even though I only met him the once - I'll never forget him and I'm glad our path's crossed even if so briefly, and I'll miss him - the world seems a poorer place without him in it.
R.I.P. Mike.

Bert said...


as one of your first students in Belgium, with Kevin and Wendy, it was an honor to spend time with you and learn from you.

When I left, it was because of our differences, but that doesn't and didn't matter.

I will always remember the most important lesson even before we started moving our bodies: strong roots, like the feet that are buried in the sand on the shore...

With respect,
Bert Gielen

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