Most people know Martial arts from those cool movies such as the Matrix, T.V. shows like Alias, or even Bruce Lee movies. But what some don’t realize is- it is real. It is a skill and a discipline of ancient performance of body alignment, breathing, technique, and power- and it is very real- and no simple task to master. Yet while most so called schools of martial arts in the West sell uniforms and belts to gratify egos, teaching cool looking moves that really have no skill behind it, there are a small, few elite in America that teach the true art with no frills and no nonsense. They are the real deal, and the true masters of the ancient art as it evolved to the West. The following gentleman is one such master- and it is my great honor to introduce you to him here now in this exclusive interview.
The Hollywood Sentinel: Please tell readers your full name.
Dino: Dino Vassilopoulos.
Hollywood Sentinel: Where are you from and what is your ethnicity?
Dino: I’m half Greek, Irish-Russian. I was born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles.
Hollywood Sentinel: What do you do?
Dino: I am a Master of the Martial Arts; Shotokan, Uechi Ryu, Pa Qua, Southern Shoalin Kung Fu, Jujitsu, Tai Chi Chaun, Monkey Boxing, Aikido, Wing Chun and weapons to name a few.
Hollywood Sentinel: Why did you get started in this?
Dino: It found me. I didn’t look for it. It always found me.
Hollywood Sentinel: When did you start doing this?
Dino: I started the martial arts when I was five years old.
Hollywood Sentinel: Wow, that’s early! Where did you get your experience and training?
Dino: I learned from several teachers over my very early youth. When I was sixteen I met Al Case and have been learning from him ever since. I have very real experience in the streets and clubs of Los Angeles.
Hollywood Sentinel: How has martial arts helped you or saved you?
Dino: My art has saved my life quite a few times.
Hollywood Sentinel: Will you please tell us about that?
Dino: Once while working as a bouncer at The Palace in Hollywood I was surrounded by seven guys. One tried to choke me out from behind and set me up to get hit. I applied a grab art, torqued his arm and threw him into the ones in front of me. They desisted closing in on me and we came to an understanding through conversation as they saw they couldn’t win, even with large numbers.
Hollywood Sentinel: Wow! And how did it help save your life?
Dino: I fought five guys to a standstill. If I hadn’t been highly trained, I would have been beaten to death.
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s amazing. What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about martial arts?
Dino: When most people begin they’re stuck in ground and pound, because the skill and control is not there. They substitute muscle or politics (belts, etc.) for skill and knowledge. Skill and knowledge will release your inner core abilities.
Hollywood Sentinel: Why should people learn martial arts?
Dino: You’re either a martial artist or you’re not. You know.
Hollywood Sentinel: You are also a bodyguard for the rich and famous. Please tell us how you got started doing that and how do you differ from other bodyguards?
Dino: I’m highly trained and have years of actual experience. I have personally guarded numerous celebrities and high profile clients in Hollywood.
Hollywood Sentinel: Can you share with us a few of those names?
Dino: I was Director of Security for Center Staging for three years where just about everybody who was anybody was. A few names are Fleetwood Mac, Velvet Revolver, Henry Winkler, Michael Lee, John Mellancamp, Norah Jones, the owner of HerbaLife, Earth, Wind and Fire, Jessica Simpson, Ricky Minor (The Tonight Show), and Tom Petty to name a few.
Hollywood Sentinel: Cool. How do you differ from other martial arts instructors?
Dino: The way I express myself comes from my knowledge, experience and years practicing.
Hollywood Sentinel: How do you want to be remembered?
Dino: As a modern day samurai.
Hollywood Sentinel: Cool. What is your life philosophy?
Hollywood Sentinel: Who is your favorite martial arts expert and why?
Dino: Al Case. He taught me in such detail and in such a manner that I really got it and can apply it. That’s the true test. Did it save my life or the lives of loves ones when I needed it? All the black belts and politics mean nothing when faced with death. Can you confront evil and death? Can you survive?
Hollywood Sentinel: That makes a lot of sense! How can people have a chance to train with you?
Dino: We can talk it over and see.
Hollywood Sentinel: Where can people find out more about you?
Dino: I’m in Al Case’s martial arts books at Valley Martial Arts Supply in Van Nuys, or they can send me an e-mail at [email protected]
Hollywood Sentinel: Thank you very much Dino, it has been an honor talking with you.
Dino Vassilopoulos: Thank you very much.