For over 3 decades I have been dedicated to the pursuit of fight skill development on the mat, leading to the ability to defend oneself, while exploring how those lessons can show up in life so a person can thrive. At the heart of my work is the embodied philosophy of self-reliance: knowing that you are equipped to take on the martial arts of everyday life more skillfully and win!
Karate at 6
I started karate at the age of 6. I was fascinated by martial arts ever since I watched my first ‘fist pumping, bone crunching’ kung fu movie on the reel at 5-years old. Granted, probably not the best thing for a 5-year old’s brain to be consuming, but I blame my uncle for that.
I continued to train in karate until my 20s ending with my 2nd degree black belt (as a side note: I started teaching kids karate at my Sensie’s Dojo at 15 mostly to make some extra money). All along I was exploring other fighting arts, starting with western boxing under the legendary Willie Toweel at age 16, and anything else I could get my hands on, including full contact stick fighting. I continued to train with Willie into my early 20s.
Growing Up Tough
I had a tough upbringing, raised in government housing on the South Side of Johannesburg, I was bullied relentlessly by the schoolyard bullies, and the gangs in my neighbourhood. I remember vividly planning routes to get home safe from school, and spent most of my time indoors, lost in my own imagination. Outside of my fascination with martial arts, it was the reality I grew up in that motivated me to learn how to protect myself.
I was brought up by a single parent my mother, never knowing my father. My mother a raging alcoholic, had no qualms giving me a regular beating with what ever she could lay her hands on, even a cast iron frying pan. At 17, she kicked me out of the house after another drunken fueled rage. I found myself homeless, sleeping on the inner city streets of Johannesburg, and never finishing high school.
Being homeless forced me into the South African military, where I served in the Close Protection Wing of the Military Police. I excelled in the military, rising to the rank of platoon sergeant, and became the lead defensive tactics instructor for my unit at Provost School.
After the military, with no education, and few prospects I took the only job I could find as a doorman outside some of Johannesburg’s roughest nightclubs. For the next several years I worked the doors, to eventually finding myself as the head doorman, running security for several clubs, and with over 70 doorman working for me. All the while, I was training martial arts, and working towards my dream of one day coaching full time.
Training in Thailand
The Birth of Crazy Monkey Defense
BJJ & The MMA Years
In the 2000’s I became heavily involved in Mixed Martial Arts, putting on the first no-holds-barred dojo fights and later full scale fight events in South Africa. At the time, I had the most successful MMA competition team in South Africa, with my students beating everyone they stepped into the Octagon with. Sports Illustrated – South Africa, a few years ago acknowledged me as, “the Father of MMA in South Africa”. I then left the competition scene behind as my programs gained international recognition (plus there was no money in MMA back then) and I found myself on the road for up to 6-months of the year coaching all over the world. Something I still do to this day.
Continued Evolution of My Programs
Eductation & Corporate Work
Today, outside of still teaching my martial arts programs, running my Virtual Academy online – I run a bespoke inner management consultancy, while being the director of LBG Group, a security and investigations firm. Between these two companies I have had the privilege to teach my approach to inner management at companies such as Google, AirBnB, Facebook, and Singapore Airlines to name just a few. I am also one of the lead instructors for Singapore Airlines Dealing With Disruptive Passengers Program. In 2019, I was one of the key note speakers at the DISPAX 3rd International Conference on Unruly Airline Passenger Behavior in London – along with my business partner Aaron Le Boutillier – where we presented on the importance of Mindfulness in Action and its place in Aviation Security.
Currently I am a teacher in residency at Tree Roots Retreat in Rayong, Thailand where I live 6-months of the year, while the rest of the time I spend at my home on the Isle of Man. My focus, and passion these days is applying the lessons from martial arts as a vehicle to become a champion in life. At present I am working on a few new books that I hope to publish alongside my current book on Amazon, Full Contact Living. While I no longer live in South Africa, I travel back as much as I can to spend time with my two sons.