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In Memoriam

Jesse Cimino

Jesse Cimino

1st Duan - Shifu- Hamburg, NY

I never really spoke or wrote anything like this about my brother after he died in December 2019. I never had the words. I didn’t really know what to think when I was asked to write something for his memoriam on the ACMAF website. Then I asked myself, what would Jesse do?

I can pinpoint the moment Jesse wanted to learn 8 Step Preying Mantis. In fact, I was the only one there with him when it happened. I was the one that beat him in a wrestling match on a beach in the Dominican Republic.

We were on a vacation with our mother and sister in the early 2000s. If you knew Jesse, you know that he was incredibly competitive. If you tried competing with him on anything, you better be ready for a fight. In the majority of cases, it was friendly, and you would always see the respect he had for you in his eyes when he won. It was a trait of his that I learned a lot from. Competition is a good thing, as it raises the bar for all of us. However, in this case, one of only a few cases where he lost.

Brothers growing up fight. It is human nature. We fought a lot, and a lot of the time, it was for fun… boys will be boys. When we were at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic as 20-somethings, Jesse was in college, living in Las Vegas, Nevada, going to UNLV, so you could imagine it was a little boring to us at night in the Caribbean. We were talking outside on the beach at one point, and he just being Jesse, said “let’s fight”. Me being me responded “ok” with a smile on my face. I knew something he didn’t, and he was about to find out.

Jesse was a high school wrestler, and a good one too. He had been in fights throughout his life, so he knew how to handle himself well. That night on that beach, though, he could not compete with me. I had recently learned the Gold 3 material of 8 Step. It’s the Suai Jiao throwing section of our system. Jesse could not throw me at all. He also could not stop me from throwing him. I basically shut him down and scored over and over. It was a complete blowout.

He told me years later that night on the beach he knew he had to learn this system.

Jesse is the most intense person I knew. When he set his mind to something, he did it, and he became an expert at it. That intense drive to be the best drove him through his training and through passing his Shifu test.

I was not in attendance at that test; however, I heard several stories about it. One stands out as extremely impressive to me. The day before the test, Jesse went through the entire system (Yellow sash through Gold 5) three times. Not only that, but he was the partner for two other people in that exam: Shifu Will Pelowski and Shifu Dan Della Vella. Jesse was an expert of that material. He could do any of it, and all of it. The way he did one thing, he did everything.

That is how I remember my brother, and how I will always remember him. Jesse set the bar for a lot of things in my life, and he still does. The more I think of him, the more I see someone that I want to be. I often ask myself a question when I don’t really know which direction to go down… What would Jesse do?

Shifu Daniel Cimino May 5, 2024