Early Roots

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Shihan Pascetta sparring with Howard Petchler at Verycken Dojo - circa 1970

Master Pascetta began his martial arts training in 1963 when first introduced to a combat form of jiu-jitsu by a Marine Sergeant (Skip McQuen) in Melbourne, Florida. After returning to New Jersey he continued practicing and began attending classes taught by the late Phil Martinez. Mr. Martinez told Pascetta that he had studied in Chicago with a teacher named John Concevic. In 1968 Master Pascetta met Master Edward Verycken and was accepted as his direct student.

Master Edward Verycken was Master Pascetta’s first Master Teacher. Master Verycken was a student of GrandMaster Peter Urban, the founder of U.S.A. GoJu Karate. After returning from Japan in 1958, Peter Urban opened his first Karate DoJo and Ed Verycken stated he was his first student. In 1959 Verycken became one of Master Urban’s first Black Belts. It was Master Verycken who trained Master Pascetta and taught him the KIHON, KATA, IPPON, and AIKI-JITSU of U.S.A. GoJu Karate.

Master Verycken subsequently introduced Mr. Pascetta to GrandMaster Urban in 1970 and Pascetta began to study and train directly with both. Master Verycken took a sabbatical from martial arts for an extended period of time and Master Pascetta studied extensively and directly with GrandMaster Peter Urban. According the Master Verycken, he became motivated to introduce Master Pascetta to GrandMaster Urban because Master Pascetta had exhausted him with his insatiable appetite for new information, precise details, and greater, in-depth knowledge. Since Master Verycken had begun his training in martial arts a mere 5 years prior to Shihan Pascetta, it is understandable why he might reach a point where it would become  necessary to pass to his own teacher the responsibility of training his most advanced student.

Although Master Verycken had began his karate training with Grand Master Urban, after receiving his Black Belt he left the Japanese GoJu-ryu originally taught by GrandMaster Urban to study Isshin-ryu with Master Don Nagle and also Judo.  This departure from GoJu-ryu was long enough for him to receive his 2nd Dan in Isshin-ryu and a yellow belt in Judo.  According to Verycken, he later returned to GoJu-ryu after GrandMaster Urban had broken from the GoJu-Kai of Gogen Yamaguchi and initiated the newly founded hybrid system of USA GoJu (1963).  Due to various personal matters, Master Verycken’s martial arts career would be interrupted for extended periods, multiple times over the following years, however, his early contributions and passion for the martial arts contributed significantly to the early introduction, foundation, and transition of Shihan Pascetta into USA GoJu Karate.

Under the direct tutelage of GrandMaster Peter Urban, Pascetta was taught the advanced KATA, advanced AIKI-JITSU, advanced PRINCIPLES, and PHILOSOPHY, and the many levels of applications for Peter Urban’s USA GoJu Karate in each of these areas of technical study. This was during a time when GrandMaster Urban was still physically and technically active in his teaching.

According to Master Verycken, Master Pascetta was a student who would soak up information like a sponge looking for the most precise details and always seeking the find the truth. What Master Verycken also noticed was Pascetta’s passion for the physical training, not simply the sparring which he excelled at, but also the Kihon, Kata, Ippon, and Aiki-Jitsu equally.

Shihan Pascetta sparring with Howard Petchler in Verycken Dojo - circa 1970

During the 1970’s Master Pascetta had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the United States and his skills were greatly influenced by working out and training with some of the most prominent American Karate/Kickboxing competitors. Those champions included: PKA World Heavyweight Champion, Joe Lewis, and PKA World Middleweight Champion, Bill (Superfoot) Wallace. To a lesser degree, Master Pascetta also trained briefly with PKA World Light Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Smith and PKA/WKA World Lightweight Champion, Benny (The Jet) Urquidez.

Master Pascetta’s experience also includes cross training in several other Martial Arts disciplines. These include Jiu-Jitsu with GrandMaster Wally Jay, Aikido with Master Robert Danza, Tuite with Master Seiyu Oyata, Kobudo with GrandMaster Sekichi Odo, and more extensively, Modern Arnis with GrandMaster Remy Presas. Master Pascetta has used the exposure to each of these other disciplines and the collective insight of such high level Masters to help research and strengthen any potential weaknesses within his own American GoJu-Ryu Karate-Do system.

Over the last 3 decades, Master Pascetta has also attended a multitude of seminars and participated in training for Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, and Executive Security fields in order to stay relevant and current with modern practices. Although Master Pascetta has established himself as a World Class martial arts master, he has always remained both a student of the martial arts and a “student of life”. To the present he continues his training and takes any opportunity to study or train with top qualified “specialists” of any martial arts, Law Enforcement, or Professional Security discipline when the opportunity arises.


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