One day curiosity struck me and I went through all of my training since I was a child and have estimated that I have spent 40,000+ hours training martial arts, and this doesn’t include the countless hours I have spent studying body movement, theory and philosophy. I don’t say any of this to brag, I only want to share just how deep my passion for martial arts goes, it is built into every fibre of my being and every cell in my body and I still have so much to learn.
My journey in martial arts started when I was 5 years old training Karate & Tae-Kwon-Do, then Kick-Boxing & Muay Thai as a teen. My parents put me in martial arts because, I’ll be honest, I had rebellion in my blood. Thankfully martial arts became the positive medium I needed to mold my abundant energy.
Coming into adulthood I dove deep into the Kungfu world inspired by great movie stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Ip man and of course Bruce Lee. When I started teaching at 19 years old martial arts became so much more than just techniques.
Outside the dojo, at 23 I joined the Canadian Forces. The 3 years of infantry training reinforced strong discipline and true practical combative and martial techniques. Post military, I got heavily involved in training polices forces across Southern Alberta. What I started to realize was military personnel are the easiest to teach. The student’s goals were to create simple effective and lethal nervous system based responses. The police force though was completely different. The students would have to maintain order amongst chaos and control the situation without escalating it, all while being under the scrutiny of bystanders. This is obviously much harder to do. This real world experience made me realize there is a big difference between martial and art.
Throughout my 20’s I continued learning from new Senseis, Sifus, Coaches, Instructors and Professors from various styles of martial arts. Eventually realizing they were all teaching similar things but calling it something else. Different styles of striking and kicking had their own strengths and weaknesses but could easily fall into concepts of circular and linear based attacks. In fact I started to completely disagree with differences in styles and started looking at what really mattered and that was the warrior behind the belt. This is when martial arts showed me the true potential of what is within. I thought to myself, how many of the hundreds of techniques that I know and have trained tirelessly can be used by every single student I teach? At the same time the many years of abusing my body was starting to catch up to me physically. I began to realize that speed, size and strength (all things I could previously rely on) could no longer be my focus as a student nor a teacher. I needed to dive into a world of concepts and self-awareness. If I had a student that was strong and fast but trained with a mentality that they were smaller and weaker than everyone else, this student would be unstoppable.
The majority of my training was focused on weapons, kicking and striking. So I started training the areas I was most weak, trapping and grappling. Wing Tsun and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu were obvious choices to expand my horizons in these areas. I trained and in these ranges both art forms were building sensitivity all over my body and I quickly became addicted. In my down time I would study video after video and immersed my mind into the world of strategy on a whole new level. It also happened to be at the same time when I started training seriously under Guro Joel Huncar in Taboada Balintawak.
Balintawak was introduced to me as a close range stick fighting system and I immediately fell in love. After a competition in BJJ my neck couldn’t take anymore of the abuse and I decided to pursue Balintawak and Wing Tsun. Little did I know at the time what that really meant for my future as a martial artist and business owner.
When is first started training Wing Chun Sifu Kam Leung taught me a concept that I love. I have since modified it with the label ADAPT, Attitude/Ego, Distance/Range, Angle/Footwork, Position/Structure, Timing/Speed. This changed everything as I started to conceptualize all my martial arts into 5 ranges; Weapons, Kicking, Striking, Trapping and Grappling. Wing Chun showed me the answers to many of my previously unanswerable questions. I journeyed to the mecca of Wing Chun and found Sifu Chris Collins. Sifu taught me that first a student must be able to learn, then understand, then perform with the final goal of technical precision. He showed me Grandmaster Leung Ting’s systematic approach to Wing Tsun. Wing Tsun helps your understanding of trapping through deep philosophical concepts such as, when the hand is free it goes forward, be hard yet soft, when it’s dead let it die, don’t move the mountain but move around the mountain. He also taught me to remember to always face your opponents centre and that your structure keeps space and when that space is threatened you must move and move efficiently.
Before I knew it I could hit people and they couldn’t do anything about it because they were trapped. Learning to control the hands of your opponent before trying to strike them and using their own movements against them. Sparring became so much more then just reaction and set-ups and fakes, it became about forward pressure with phenomenal sensitivity, control and timing. My arms started to hit people and I had no idea how, they became their own beast. My Sifu spoke of this but it was hard to believe it was happening. Not only could I hit but in close there was no need to stress or use strength. One of my arms would form “defence” through structure and maintaining space while the other would hit the centre line at will. At first the hands were just starting to touch the face or chest, as time went on I was able to integrate things like knife hands and elbows from previous years of training. Everything I had been taught intellectually started to appear in the physical world.
Meanwhile, my Balintawak training became about memorization of the grouping systems making them become a part of my nervous system. One night whilst training, I started to see and feel my Wing Tsun while I had a stick in my hand. This range showed me how to be comfortable with a stick or knife at a close range that was super fun to train and was creating speed like no other system I trained before. I could trap the opponents stick with my hand better than ever before in my FMA training. The timing from Wing Tsun explained disarms that were realistic vs play. The two arts made each other better, and then my other martial arts started to take on a whole new look and feel. My movements started to became very efficient, and I started to see the truth and efficiency of what I was previously taught. I was hooked on Grandmaster Bobby Taboada’s system of Balintawak.
I represent HKWTA in Canada under Sifu Chris Collins guidance and mentorship. He is an inspirational human being who walks his talk and is helping to build Wing Tsun worldwide appearing alongside movie stars like Tony Jaa and Donnie Yen! I have a Level 6 certification in Taboada Balintawak with hopes of testing for my Level 7 in the near future. Grandmaster Bobby Taboada is a very humble and happy man who supports knowledge and growth through leadership, respect and honor. I am privileged to be able to have met so many people along my journey and am proud to be a new owner of my own dojo, Calgary Gong Fu Academy located in Alberta, Canada. Here I also teach my own system of martial arts that combines kicking, striking, trapping and tactical grappling, this system is a culmination of my 40,000+ hours of training and is dedicated to practical Martial Arts for any body. I am eternally grateful for all of my masters throughout the years, Wing Tsun and Balintawak specifically have helped me become the man I am today.
Outside of martial arts I recently became a Father so my time no longer can be spent devoted 100% to Martial Arts. To be honest, there was a time in my life when I didn’t think that anything would ever be as important to me as training was. When my Son came into this world everything changed, and now I am not only a martial artist and a teacher, but I also want to be a great Dad and be a man that my Son can look up to.
Calgary Gong Fu Academy Inc.