By Christmas 2000, I was reflecting on what could have been, with my school, and my dream all but gone. I continued to train with my dearest friend, who had stuck by me through all of the changes and personal issues that I was facing at the time. I taught self-defence courses, and at many local schools whilst working full time for the next 6+ years.
In 2002 I met my now incredible wife. This would change my life in so, so many ways for the better… She convinced me to follow my Kenpo passion with vigour, she never gave up. In 2003 we opened our Kenpo school at the old Mount Annan Leisure Centre. We built the school to a point that when the YMCA took over the building, and ended our casual lease arrangement, we knew that it was time, to once again, get our own full-time centre.
During these years I would get small training opportunities with Mr Speakman when he came out twice per year. These sessions were intense with Don and Suzanne Woods from Brisbane and David Giovenco and Lauren Campbell from Sydney. In 2006 we got enough money together to go back to the US and attend the camp in Las Vegas and train for several days in Pasadena and Lake Arrowhead in California.
We all continued to learn and teach, and Tony Angus was now also on board. Mr Angus’ Kenpo experience and status in Australia is well documented. He has bought a depth to our Kenpo family that resonates around the world. Finally, in 2008, Mr Speakman gave permission to Suzanne, Don and myself to test to 1st Degree Black Belt under him, as his students.
This was the most nerve racking experience of my life…if not for my wife Nicole, I may not have even turned up, I was so nervous and self-doubting of setting foot on the same mat as the Black Belts that I had revered for the past 8 years! But I did it.
Our school continued to grow, and along the way we learned some valuable lessons about blindly trusting in peoples’ honesty and integrity. In 2010, I was invited to test for my 2nd Degree Black Belt. Again in Las Vegas and again, just as nervous!
2012 saw me test for 3rd Degree Black Belt. An important milestone in Kenpo, as this allows you to test students to 1st Degree Black Belt at your own discretion. In this test however, my own test was overshadowed by the fact that my very first student to reach adult Black Belt would take place. Jenny Colusso. No student has done more for this school prior, or since. Nicole and I owe a world of gratitude to her.
2015 and 4th Degree. This time I had 3 of my student’s testing alongside of me for 1st Degree. I can honestly say that there is no prouder moment, than seeing the combined dedication of you and your students coming to fruition.
Our school now boasts a 3rd Degree, two 2nd Degrees and, 4 1st Degree Black Belts! There are many, many more to follow.
We are extremely proud that we have such a high number of students who have been with us for 8, 9 and even 10 years plus, and they are still only 15, 16 and 17 years old!
We proudly help to produce world class Kenpoists, that is for sure…we have numerous World Champions and Grand World Champions! What we are most proud of though, is the quality of the character of these young men and women.
Let’s face it…our world needs more leaders…not more followers! We need more good, well mannered, respectful and caring people. We can proudly say that we are making a meaningful contribution to our society. This more than anything is what fuels us…
So here we are, almost up to date…2017 celebrates my 20th year of teaching in Narellan, and the greater Macarthur region. In total 30 years studying martial arts! I for one, am looking forward to being able to write part 3…