Four surgeries and dissuasion from doctors and family couldn’t keep Sanfilippo away from Jukido.
By the time he gets to his hotel after a day of traveling to business meetings and conferences, John Sanfilippo (SAN-fuh-LI-poh) would often feel exhausted. Carrying luggage and a briefcase, he recognized he could become an easy target. Not anymore.
While working out in the gym across the street, Sanfilippo saw Jukido Academy through the window, went over and introduced himself to the Sensei George Rego, who allowed him to try it.
“You’ll know right away whether Jukido is for you or not,” Sanfilippo said. “I was hooked. And I’ve realized that I now train and study Jukido for the simple reason that I just want to be the best version of myself each day. There are life lessons to be learned while training.”
As he matured further into the self-defense school, doctors and certain family members often sought to discourage Sanfilippo,
"...I’ve realized that I now train and study Jukido for the simple reason that I just want to be the best version of myself each day."
due to his two back and shoulder surgeries from accidents outside the school. Sanfilippo, however, refused their advice and has been training for five years.
“I appreciate their concern,” he said, “but I got a strong will, and Jukido is something I want to keep pursuing. A lot of people didn’t think I would last because of my injuries. But I train smart and rest when I need to rest.”
Sanfilippo’s perseverance inspired his 12-year-old daughter, Avery (turning 13 on Saturday), to join the academy. She’s proud to have a father she feels can protect her.
“He makes me feel safe, and I think it’s pretty cool that my dad might become a black belt,” Avery Sanfilippo said.
After leaving the dojo for a while, she returned when she understood the need for it.
“Since I’ve gotten into middle school,” she said, “I’ve seen a lot of fights, and I didn’t want to get hurt, so that’s what made me want to stay with it.” She recently passed her testing for her blue belt.
“As a dad, I’m all for any type of self-defense training she can get,” Sanfilippo said. “I know I won’t be around all the time, so I hope she could defend herself.”
John Sanfilippo looks forward to the day he might get to watch Avery test for her black belt. He says they are sharing something that “pretty remarkable” in the dojo. As he nears his testing day for his black belt, Sanfilippo longs for the opportunity to only get better in his skills.
Getting your black belt is when the fun starts,” he said. “I imagine it as working with an artist who’s teaching you how to paint. They tell you all the colors and how to draw certain shapes. Master Rego’s just teaching the colors and shapes, but, when you get the black belt, you really get to use all those tools and start to explore and individualize yourself.”