My movement journey began with the study of martial arts in the late 1970's when I was 15. That's about 40 years. I commenced with yoga in the 1990's. I gained my first dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do when I was 18. My teacher was an erudite Malaysian-Chinese man, Master Vernon Low, a 7th Dan black belt. He had phenomenal and flawless technique, the most beautiful I have ever seen. He laid the ground work for my pursuit of good technique throughout my life. This was the late 1970's/early 80's in South Australia when TKD was like attending a brutal military camp.
Training was tough and intense and seven days a week. Only the resilient survived. It was about this time I met a young guy called Vince Palumbo. We had a memorable session where we tested our sparring skills to the max and became friends. Vince went on to become a renowned full contact fighter and continues to teach around the world. He is now a Senior Grandmaster in Doce Pares Eskrima.
I became fascinated with the martial arts, fitness and movement. I was a curious young man and a restless seeker. I had many questions and went on to study boxing, Thai kickboxing, Wing Chun, Hsing-I kung fu and Greco-Roman wrestling throughout the 1980's. As a university student I would sneak around the corner and sit in on the Australian Dance Theatre classes to observe how they moved and trained. I became fascinated with contemporary dance, particularly the work of Pina Bausch. This is where my early fascination with the intersections between all these movement practises began.
Throughout the 1990s I trained intensively in Iyengar yoga, Greco-Roman wrestling and the Filipino arts of Doce Pares Eskrima (stick fighting) and Pangamot (knife fighting). My main teacher at the time was Los Angeles based Senior Grandmaster Anthony Kleeman, a man of exceptional talent and ability. In 1994, we travelled together to Cebu City in the Philippines where we trained with Supreme Grandmaster Cacoy Canete at his family home. I was awarded black belts in Doce Pares Eskrima and Pangamot. Anthony continues to hold seminars and workshops throughout the USA and Europe and is one of the most highly respected martial art teachers in the USA.
From an early age I had a fascination with the Chinese Martial arts but it was very difficult to find a skilled and reputable teacher in Australia. I maintained a vigil and kept looking. It took a long time but through sheer luck I found the Wu Tang School of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts in Darwin, Australia. I trained with this school for 10 years.
Wu Tang was founded in Taiwan in 1945 by Grandmaster Liu, Yun-Qiao with the help of his Disciples: No.2 Master Hsu and No.3 Master Su. Grandmaster Liu was a renowned practitioner and teacher and trained the Taiwanese presidential bodyguards in the art of Baji/Pikua. The Wu Tang School was established to ensure the maintenance and transmission of some of China’s oldest and most formidable combat systems such as Chen Taiji, Baji Quan, Pi Kua Quan and Ba Gua Zhang. There is also an integrated system of breathing, postures and movement called Chi Gung or more accurately Dao Yin.
I maintained my yoga practise throughout this period and began to explore the relationships between martial arts and Indian practices and look more deeply into the detail and movement knowledge held within the old forms.
As I get older, I work to deepen my practise in both martial arts and yoga by maintaining the 'beginner's mind'. I continue to research the culture and history of movement, integration of the breath with movement and exploring the interrelationships between the various movement disciplines. More and more I like to start with a basic technique and work on building an improvised flow.
I still practise every day and I always seem to learn something new.
This is very humbling.