I was born in Nelson (New Zealand) in 1968 into a very hard-working family. My very great Grandparents were on the 2nd ship into Nelson (out of England from Ireland) and were one of the first pioneers. On the Mothers side my very great grandparents were the first settlers in Dunedin (from Scotland and Norway) and had the first-born white child.
When I was 18 months old my parents packed up and we moved to a little township (not so little now) called Rolleston about 30km south from Christchurch, my Father was in the NZ Fire brigade for 35 years and my mother managed hair salons and later became a highly credited pre-school teacher (both retired now).
I went to Rolleston primary school and later Lincoln High school which was only about 10km away. I was a massive Bruce Lee fan so I really wanted to do some sort of Martial Arts, I didn’t really care which style, I just wanted to kick and punch. When I was 9 years old (1977) I had an after school job down at the local grocery shop and I noticed on the window a poster for Taekwondo, so I rushed home and asked my parents to join. They said “but you are playing rugby league” and I said “yah I can do both”. So, I did.
I trained at the Rolleston Memorial hall 3 nights a week and Saturday mornings in Christchurch. I entered the 2nd and 3rd NZ Championships where I won medals and also won gold in the South Island championships.
We only graded 3 times a year back then and I was finally asked if I wanted to sit for my junior (1st Poom) black belt in 1981, of course I jumped at the chance.
It was a rather large event and it was televised on TVNZ because I was to become the first junior black belt in the Southern Hemisphere. I was in my first year at high school and the Head Master made me stand up in front of the entire school. I was so embarrassed and of course everyone wanted to have a fight to prove themselves, but I wasn’t going to let that happen or I knew I would get in very deep trouble.
I had a good time at high school and for pocket money after school I did Hay bailing (hard work) and worked in orchards and winery’s (that was good). When I left school, I got a Spray-painting apprenticeship. I still continued my training, mostly in Christchurch until I received a job offer in PNG in 1991, which I accepted. I continued my training in PNG where I actually managed to use my training for real after a couple of knife attacks and some trespassers (they never came back).
After meeting my wife to be in Cairns, I resigned my job in PNG and moved to Cairns in 1996 and eventually married Sabrina which bought 2 beautiful daughters Naiomi and Dorothy. While in Cairns I trained with Brad Hope TKD (RIP) on and off for 5 years. I worked in Cairns at Alvic paint and panel and Stanley’s panel works (in between both), and in May 2000 or son TaiLoi was born. I thought to myself that I now require a stable job so I enlisted into the RAAF in 2001. My first posting was to RAAF Williamtown, there was no WTF dojangs so I thought I would give the ITF style a crack. I really enjoyed it, as it was more full contact sparring and you could actually punch to the head in a competition unlike WTF, which bought a whole different sparring style change which I quickly adapted to. I entered many tournaments and was placed in all events, mainly golds and Silver and I also went very well in the power breaking. I entered Trans-Tasman Masters, Gold Coast Masters, NSW championships, Australian championships etc.
In 2005 I meet Grand Master Frost and we had a very pleasant and meaningful discussion that went on for some time after some Big Macs at MacDonald’s in Raymond Terrace and that night I decided that I would join Toogee Martial Arts where I have been training and Instructing ever since. I re-opened the Nelson Bay Dojang in 2005 and had a good number of students.
In 2008 we moved to Townsville and opened the Townsville dojang averaging between 30-40 students every training night, and promoting some very good black belts, which are still there today. While in Townsville we also entered many tournaments also doing very well.
In 2014 we moved to RAAF Richmond and opened up the Windsor dojang in Bligh Park which as been another great success thanks to all of the wonderful students and also promoting some very fine black belts. The Windsor dojang is still going very strong with excellent students. I am also very proud of my wife and son who have followed me through my later Taekwondo journey, Sabrina is a 5th Dan Senior Instructor and my son is a 3rd Dan black belt (semi-retired for now).
More to follow stay tuned…