I started my Martial Arts Career at the age of 13; this was from a love and interest of Martial Arts. It was the 80's and yes Ninja movies were all the rage ;) However, what got me kick-started was a mugging incident on my way home from shop class. My class mates and I were walking back to our school from the school we had to go to for shop class (our school was smaller and didn't have a shop class) when out of the ally ran a small gang of thugs. Before I knew it, my friend had a knife at his throat, and the wooden dowel that my teacher had given me had been ripped from my hands and put in my other friends face. I told my friends to keep walking. We said we don't want any trouble, and after a few words and shoves we were lucky to walk away unharmed.
That event rocked me, as soon as we got back to the school we opened up the yellow pages and looked up martial arts schools. My friend and I went and looked at a Hap Ki Do school, but at that point we never joined. About a year and a half later, I was in grade 10 and still had a strong calling to take Martial Arts. I started training with a student who claimed to be a "Ninja" and after only a few classes with him I could see he was a fraud, some kid who took some Karate and was taking advantage of the Ninja craze of the 80's. I then got a job at Lotus Martial Arts Supply. The owner knew I was training and not happy with my teacher, so he recommended I check out this other school, which turned out to be a great thing.
The new club was lead by Master Phil McAndrews; A student of the Late Grandmaster Simon who had successfully opened multiple locations of Temple Kung Fu. The system was a Kempo system, which was a blend of Shaolin Martial Arts and Karate. It was a hard system blended with soft. The group was mostly adults, and at the time I was still quite young, around 14 years old. The sparring was hard, yet really great. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group, and the knowledge gained from the system. Master Trevor Higgs would often come to teach, he was a force to be reckoned with. Sparring matches with him were always a learning experience, and I even ended up literally getting kicked through a wall and into the change rooms ;)
Master McAndrews decided to step away from Teaching. One of his senior students, Gil Lafantasie, took the dojo over. Gil was a tremendous fighter with great skill so the school continued to be a great place to train.
By the time I was 18, I finished high school and decided to try my hand at Modelling. This was an amazing experience as it afforded me the ability to travel the world, and meet people I could never have imagined. Every time I would travel I would look up a local school and continue my Martial Arts studies; This would continue for 6 years. In between travels I would continue to train in Calgary, and one night while taking a walk to the local 7/11, I walked past a door that had large Kanji on it. I knew right away that it was a Martial Arts club. It was nondescript and intriguing. I opened the door and walked down the stairs, I was met by a larger shaved head fellow with a big smile. He was very welcoming and although he was getting ready to leave to Japan the next day he spent about 45 minutes chatting with me. That was a turn in my Martial Arts career, his name was Jay Creasey, he was, at the time, one of the only Canadians training the true art of Ninjutsu, and was on his way to one of his many visits to train with Hatsumi Sensei in Japan. Upon his return, about a month later, I began training with him at his club in Calgary, Canada.
The next shift in my training came in 1996 when Jay Creasey hosted a Knife expert from Tacoma Washington, his Name was Datu Kelly Worden. This was one of my most shocking and memorable experiences ever in my years of training. Datu was both funny and incredibly skilled. By this point I was a blackbelt and thought I knew a thing or two... Well, I knew nothing! I left the seminar at the lunch break and was so rocked by what I had experienced that I never made it back. This inspired me to learn more from Datu, so from that point I began to host Datu Worden coming into Calgary for the next 20 years. I would also join in on the seminar circuit that the Canadians had created between Edmonton and Saskatoon. Then, I would travel to Tacoma to do private training with Datu, and attend his Annual Water and Steel Camp -Which is held every Labor Day long weekend in the Puget Sound.
During my time training with Datu in the system Of Natural Spirit International, I would continue to train with Jay Creasey. I traveled to Japan to train directly with Hatsumi Sensei, which was a great experience. The training was nothing like what I was getting with Datu, but the experience was worth the trip. My training with Jay continued and he awarded me my 5th degree black belt. I am grateful for all I have been given and have learnt from that experience.
I decided to teach full time in my own Dojo, and this was support both by Jay and by Datu Worden. During one of the Water and Steel camps, I was awarded my 7th degree from Mr. Worden, which I hold in the highest regard.
I now teach a blended system that includes the arts of all my previous and current teachers. The lineage of which I am very proud to be part of. I encourage everyone to train and get a true understanding of their path. Only by training will you discover this.
Repetition is the mother of skill. You MUST train!