Martial Artist – Filmmaker, Fight choreographer, Actor/Stunt Fighter
John is a Boston(Revere) born and raised Mixed Martial Artist with more than 35 years in the arts. In 2008, John was inducted into the Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame with such notables as UFC champion Randy Couture and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. John holds a 5th degree Black belt in Shoto-Kan Karate under famed local Sensei/Master Lou Hopkins. Advanced rank in Gonis Pankration – Judo Karate, and in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Kron Gracie. Kron is considered one of the top young Jiu-Jitsu talents in the world and is son of world-renowned undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Ultimate Fighting Champion Master Rickson Gracie. John reached instructor levels at Boston’s Wah Lum Kung Fu and trained Wushu at the Boston Chinese Wushu Research Institute under world-renowned Martial Arts Master Bow Sim Mark and her son international Action Star Donnie Yen. John became an assistant instructor at the institute and a captain of its famed
performance team where John competed and performed all over New England along side Donnie and his little sister Chris (Yen).
Competitor - Fighter
John is a former New England Karate Grand Champion and New England AAU National and Regional Team Member with Multi-Time Gold, Silver and Bronze medal wins. In 1980~81 John was one of the only New England AAU Team members to qualify for the Nationals in all events, forms, fighting and weapons, winning 2 bronze medals and is the recipient of more than 100 top 3 wins in combined forms, fighting, and weapons competitions and numerous other semi and full contact fights and Jiu-Jitsu (Submission wrestling) matches.
Emptying the cup: MMA – Mixed Martial Arts
John’s MMA journey began back in the early 1990’s when he was awe inspired over the early UFC historic events. With most of John’s early fight skills rooted in the stand up game he sought out Gokor Chivichyan and “Judo” Gene Lebell and becoming fully immersed in the world of submission wrestling and the journey began. Today the training continues in BJJ under Rickson Gracie- Kron Gracie Jiu-Jitus and with MMA research and information
exchanges continuing at camps in Southern California and abroad including “ ATT (American Top Team)” one of the worlds premium MMA camps and home to countless UFC/MMA champions and ongoing with long time “Brother in the Arts” former Northern American Full Contact, Muay Thai Champion and wrestler Greg “Ed” Bavelock of Kimekai Dojos/MMA Australia. “John’s been an invaluable source of skills and inspiration to the continuing evolution of our MMA syllabus and instruction”.
U.S. Marine Corps Contractor Instructor
John has owned and operated Dojos in New England and California and was recently chosen as one of a select few to help develop Martial Arts programs for the U.S. Marine Corps and is a certified, contractor-Instructor in Specialized Tactical Training, P.S.D. –Personal Security Detachment - High Risk Protection. Chief Inst. J Anderson, “John your ability to convey your knowledge to these young Marines. America’s premiere fighting force will prepare them mentally and physically to engage enemy insurgents on the battlefield. Thank You.”
Hong Kong Movie Break – 1989
John’s longtime friend and film mentor, Donnie Yen, (One of the biggest stars in Asia today) arranges for John to be flown in and meet with Hong Kong action film pioneer (director) Yuen Woo-Ping (The Matrix, Kill Bill, Crouching Tiger). John is immediately cast to fight Donnie and assist with fight choreography in a collaboration that would continue on many of Woo-Ping’s and Donnie’s early Hong Kong classics (Tiger Cage 2, In The Line of Duty 4, and Crystal Hunt). John becomes one of the first western members to work for the Yuen Brothers Clan and with Donnie continuing to mentor John on the films, “Cheetah on Fire”, and “Iron Beggar Hero”. Working with Donnie would allow John to be part of the award winning “Donnie Yen fight choreography team”.
Hong Kong – Hollywood: Mixed Martial Roots – The Corner man
John has been called upon by his longtime friend Donnie Yen in a collaboration of works spanning more than 2 decades that would see John become a lead member of the Donnie Yen Fight Choreography Team and working on some of Donnie’s most important films “Blade 2” with Wesley Snipes, the oscar nominated “Hero” starring Jet Li (features Donnie), “Twin’s Effect (Jackie Chan guest star)” and the MMA charged “Flashpoint”. Donnie Yen for watching movie, “John Salvitti is my friend of over 20 years, he was in “Tiger Cage”, he’s been studying Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for 15 years. It’s fate that brought us together.” John’s biggest contributions would come when Donnie enlists his fight choreography talents on the aforementioned “Twin’s Effect” and, the first of it’s kind, MMA charged “Flashpoint” films. “Twins Effect” and “Flashpoint” set the stage for John’s first chances to include select UFC style MMA into the choreography. John also helped Donnie with his training in MMA and to set the tone and concepts for Donnie's brand of choreography. Their collaboration proved groundbreaking in paving the way for the advancing of MMA into Hong Kong Cinema.
The “Flashpoint” Special Features showcases the groundbreaking action. “Flashpoint” goes on to win Best Action at the prestigious Taiwanese Golden Horse Awards. Donnie Yen talking on the “Flashpoint Movie Special Features” “John Salvitti, this guy’s very knowledgeable, he’s my corner man.”
Jay-Chou MTV Asia/Double Blade
John choreographed and assisted directing the action on the M.T.V. Asia hit, Action-Music-Short “Double Blade”, starring Asia’s King of Pop Jay Chou, recently cast as Kato in the new “Geen Hornet” film starring Seth Rogan and Danny Trejo “Con Air”, “Desperado”, “Machete”. John also worked closely with the director of photography Andrzej Sekula “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservour Dogs” to efficiently and effectively translate the action to the screen. In preparing stars Jay Chou, Danny Trejo and the stunt fighters, John trained, rehearsed and filmed (mini DV) the talent to study their movements for reference and analysis. Director Alexi Tan on “Behind Double Blade”, “John is an amazing fight choreographer, he has his own very particular ideas for the action and how it relates to the story and screen.” “Double Blade” went on to become one of the highest selling videos in Hong Kong/China.
US Marine Corps
More recently John produced and directed a specialized concepts training film and video series for the US Marine Corps.
Staying the Path: Early History
Early success in Hong Kong would lead John to relocate to Southern California. The B film craze of the early 90’s was underway in Hollywood and John would land work as a fight choreographer. John’s goal was to introduce Hong Kong style action to Hollywood in an effort to advance and further what he had learned in Hong Kong. Today the brand of action labeled “Hong Kong Style” is everywhere but back in the early 1990’s as John recalls it was very difficult to break that stereotype of Chinese films and especially all the wire work, many were afraid of the unknown. But thankfully, directors took chances with guys like John. Armed with his show reel and passion he would land work on such films as “Private Wars” starring the original stuntman Steve Railsback. The Lorenzo Lama’s star “Blood for Blood” which led to Lorenzo calling on John to work on his hit T.V. show “Renegade” and later, “Shootfighter 2” starring the famed Bolo of “Enter the Dragon” and “Bloodsport”. Bolo knew John had worked with some of the best filmmakers in Hong Kong (Yuen Woo-Ping and Donnie Yen). So he convinced the director to let John shoot/direct most of the action. Meanwhile an invitation for John to go back to Hong Kong to work with his friend Donnie awaited, and the collaboration would continue.
“Don’t give up on your dreams or your dreams will give up on you.” This is a quote from one of the great teachers in sports and life, “Coach” John Wooden. My family and I are fortunate to have met coach on more than one occasion. The quote takes me back to my childhood when “Sensei” Lou Hopkins, would take us all to Chinatown on weekends to watch Kung Fu movies. And if you had no money, Sensei wouldn’t leave you behind as long as you trained hard and dreamed of becoming a champion. Those are the days that molded me.
Navigating of the Martial Path is difficult sometimes, thanks to the inspiration and support of all my family and friends, my teachers and my brothers and sisters in the arts, the journey continues.