When I was a kid my favourite TV show was ‘Monkey’.
The show was based on the sixteenth century Chinese story ‘Journey to the West’ by Wu Cheng’en and featured a monkey as the main character who was born from an egg on a mountain top. Monkey was a fighter who became the brash king of a monkey tribe, he was cheeky and always getting into trouble. When I was little he was my hero and I used to act out scenes from the show with my friends at primary school. I always had to be Monkey of course.
I have always loved martial arts because it is part of my culture. I share the same surname as Bruce Lee and I was born the year he died. I used to pretend that some of his legendary skills were passed onto me as some kind of reincarnation passage, sadly they weren’t. But to a kid growing up it was always good to have dreams!
I never got a chance to learn martial arts when I was young as it was something my mum wasn’t keen on me doing. So I didn’t begin my martial arts journey until the age of 27 when I started kick boxing at my local gym near work. I met some great people at that class, and I am happy to say those people are still some of my closest friends today. For me kick boxing was a great introduction, it helped me to get fit, learn some new techniques and I had a chance to jump around and punch and kick things – it was a lot of fun!
My passion aka. obsession for martial arts didn’t start with kick boxing though. It started when our kick boxing instructor was replaced by a Kung Fu master. That’s when my journey really began and I learnt that whilst the physical aspects of martial arts are important, it was also the spiritual and mental elements that tested and defined you. There is no point in having a strong body if you cannot partner it with a strong mind. In Kung Fu I also learnt the importance of honour, discipline and respect. I have to thank my Sifu for being an excellent teacher and for opening my eyes to what it truly means to be able to call yourself a martial artist.
Over the years I have learnt other styles of combat sports. I love boxing, Muay Thai and MMA and am lucky enough to again have some excellent coaches and train with some great students. We are a family, we support and help each other, as well as beating each other up!
I would like to thank Chris Crudelli, Guy Aust, Tommy Gunn of Gunns MMA, Khru Eli of Mongoose Thai, ‘Kevlar’ Kes, Ben Doughty and Sinbi Muay Thai camp for guiding me on my journey.
I would also like to thank the many students I have trained with over the years. Last of all, but by no means least, the Muay Thai and WMMA fighters who inspire me to keep going and training hard.
All martial artists have their story, what’s yours?