As a child I was nothing special. I was a shadow, an unknown, spending most of my time in my own company. As much as I tried I just never fitted in. No one got me, making friends was incredibly difficult, and by the age of 5 I was escaping preschool, jumping the wall and walking the several miles home.
The only time I seemed to be noticed was at the hands of the bullies. This continued right up until my late teens. It’s why I have such a disdain for the ‘alpha male’ moniker, because I was surrounded by these type of personas growing up, both on the school playground, and on the impoverished streets of my neighbourhood in government housing on the South Side of Johannesburg, South Africa. They were just bullies, that used their physical prowess, and lack of conscience to terrorize anyone they perceived as weaker than them.
The truth is, I just seemed to suck at everything, and never really stood out. I was once in the school choir for a short time, but after continuously being called a ‘fag’ I gave that up. I was never chosen to be on the soccer team, even a friendly match because I had two left feet, and for the longest time I felt completely uncomfortable in my skin. I just never seemed to be good at anything. I was an average student at school, only ever gaining one distinction in grade 10, my final year of schooling — mostly because of an amazing teacher. Most of my time at school though was spent staring out the window.
I Was Obsessed With Survival
Throughout my childhood I was obsessed with learning to survive, both the physical abuse at the hands of my alcoholic mother, and the bullies in my neighbourhood. No wonder I was drawn to martial arts. From the earliest age I remember watching those old kung fu movies on the reel. The ideal of the weak unassuming main character who becomes the hero through martial arts training always captured my imagination and I wanted to be just like him.
Going forward, and in my early teens I was constantly thinking of the best way to engage in, and survive interpersonal violence. While long gone now, I had a notebook at 14 where I wrote down all my ideas on how that might look like. But, and sadly, I was still getting beaten up all the time. It wasn’t until I took up western boxing that things began to change. But even then, it was a steep learning curve, with me mostly on the receiving end of hard blows, and weeks of headaches. I simply sucked at it, and if the fear of being beaten up wasn’t far stronger than my fear of getting in the ring, I likely would have given up boxing early on.
There Had To Be a Better Way!
It was clear, I just wasn’t one of those alpha males, I didn’t have that natural toughness, I just wasn’t a fighter, and likely I was never going to be. The Crazy Monkey Defense System was born mostly out of this realization. The realization that I simply sucked at fighting and it scared the living shit out of me.
Ironically, even though I wasn’t a fighter, I somehow, and mostly through necessity, found myself in environments where fighting was unavoidable — one of those was working the door for several years. I vividly remember my first night on the job at 20, straight out of the military, working an upmarket club called Falcons Crest in Sandton, Johannesburg. The age restriction to enter this particular club was 23. I think they thought that an older crown would result in less violence, but how wrong they were. Nevertheless there I was working the door, a door that on any other night I wouldn’t be allowed to enter.
While I had built a solid reputation in the army as a no nonsense kind of guy, being in a dozen scraps, and since 16 started turning the tide when confronted by interpersonal violence — standing out that door that night I was shitting myself. Here I was outside the door ‘bouncing’, the very same kid who ran from violence his whole life, who had routes to get home safely from school, and spent most of his time in the relative safety of his bedroom. And while by then I had been boxing for a few years, and had a black belt in karate, I still didn’t think I was going to be much help if the shit hit the fan. To be honest I didn’t think I was very good at fighting.
But I was so tired of being afraid and having less than desirable outcomes when it came to dealing with interpersonal violence. Something had to be done, something had to change, and I had to do something about it. When I finally decided do something about my lack of serious fighting ability, I became totally obsessed in building a system of fighting that would allow me to be on equal footing with anyone who wanted to do me harm. Since 1998 this has been my focus.
Crazy Monkey: The Martial Art for the Underdog
First my only desire was that I would be able to step up to anyone that wanted to hurt me, be that on the street or in the ring, and be able to turn the tide in my favor. But over time, more and more people, people who were not fighters just like me — many of them who reminded me of myself when I was a kid, bullied, pushed around, subjected to physical violence — wanted me to teach them how they too could step up and be able to overcome the challenge of interpersonal conflict. So, I began to teach what I was creating and I am still teaching that to this day.
Crazy Monkey Defense is a martial art for the underdog. That person who doesn’t think they have what it takes, or believes they will never have the ability to be able to fight back, for those who believe they have little chance of winning a fight. As much of a cliche as it might seem, if I can, they can. This simply wouldn’t have been possible without the fighting system that I developed.
Crazy Monkey Defense gave me an unfair advantage simply because it was never designed for the tough, alpha male, those born fighters among us. I still laugh when I think about this fact. Because over the years, Crazy Monkey Defense has been successfully applied by real world warriors, from special force operators on the battlefield, close protection teams protecting their principle, to cops on some of the toughest inner city streets around the world. These are the very same people we view as being being tough, and badass fighters.
Crazy Monkey Defense is the only martial arts system I have seen that can take a person who doesn’t believe they have what it takes, or could ever take on a tough fighter and win. This to me is the beauty of the system. It’s a fighting system for the underdog. And as we know from history, it is often the underdog that rises up and becomes the hero!