Me and the Gar

Like most little Pacific Island and Maori boys in South Auckland, my brother and I grew up on all Bruce Lee movies..then Jackie Chan and Bolo..and who could forget the Kung Fu kids series.By the time we hit our tweens it was american ninja and probably our favourite movie flick 'The Last Dragon'.The story of a black american growing up in the hood obsessed by bruce lee and kung fu.This was something we could completely relate to.
Our first formal martial arts training we received was in Melbourne,Australia under our Uncle Peter who was of Cook Island and Tahitian descent.He was a 10th Dan in a karate based system..I think.(I was only 7 or 8 or somethin' so my memory is a bit hazy)Any way...we moved back to NZ and those Bruce Lee movies took on a new life.We found ourselves  analyzing and imitating moves..watching every Bruce Lee movie there is...studying,looking.By the time the music bug bit me and I started making actual money from music, I had studied a lot of martial arts.When I was in my teens my brother and I studied Muay Thai under Joe and Stuart Ramsay at the Ramsay Muay Thai Gym that use to be in Manukau.They were awesome.Then we studied Wing Chun under Sifu Joe in Otahuhu.
Even in music, martial arts was never far behind.I was introduced to Earl Montigue (Tai Chi) and Benny 'the Jet' Urquidez by Dee from Cydel.We use to spar a lot and do a lot of bag work.Dee's style at the time was unorthodox and he was awesome to spar with because his technique would always change and it forced me to learn and adapt immediately.
Then our first introduction to Chinese Kung Fu.
Enter Sigung Martin Lindgreen Head Instructor and founder of Siu Lum Gar (Shaolin Family in Cantonese) Kung Fu.He has over 30 years experience in martial arts.A 6th degree Black Belt in Sikaran Arnis, 4th degree Black Belt in Kempo Karate, and ranked 5th level Black Sash under the Singapore Martial Arts Instructors Association.His thirst for extra training and research led him overseas where he studied martial arts in Australia, France, Japan, Brazil, Korea, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and USA. At one stage he teamed up with the late Master Steve Kitson (Nam Wah Pai Kung Fu), a personal friend and training partner.He has list of other acheivements..too many to mention.
We trained at every branch there was...went to every weapons seminar and I eventually graded to orange sash.I left Siu Lum Gar to continue with music.I travelled to Rarotonga and trained under Shihan Dan Turua at the Cook Island Martial Arts Academy where I was introduced to Judo and grappling.I stayed in contact with Martin and let him know of my progress by mail.I returned to NZ and graded to purple sash in Siu Lum.
Then the music called again so I left the Gar and trained with anyone and everyone I could when I had time including Chan (Louis Mc Alaistar) of Wushu(another Cook Islander), which I really enjoyed(who I'm thinking of training with again),TKD in Waiuku with an instructor I cant remember and Ronin martial arts in Papatoetoe under Chris Nicholson and Dwane Morgan.
All these instructors had heard of Martin and had nothing but respect for him.So because of this I decided to go back to the Gar when my daughter was old enough to grasp the concepts of Kung Fu.It was easy after Kung Fu panda came out..and to make it better Martin seems to have gotten faster,stronger and better and is still an awesome,inspiring,confident instructor..which is confusing to me 'cause I thought you were supposed to get slower the older you get.
But what people don't know about Martin is that he has a giving personality..he falls out of bed in the morning doing martial arts...he helps his community...empowers people....he trains people who have physical disabilities and has the patience to do it...who do you know would wait 16 years for a wheel chair bound Cerebral Palsy sufferer to walk so that he could continue his martial arts training(Black Sash Sifu Barry Te hira)...or Sifu Clark Marsters (who is deaf)...the difference is that Martin genuinely cares about people...he'll take time to just talk to you..which for me has been invaluable.When I first met him I was a bit star struck because some of the things he does..a man of his age shouldn't be able to do...but hes good at proving me wrong.
My brother and I have been with the club,off and on for almost two decades.We've seen the Gar 1500 strong at one class when the acknowledgement to Sigung was deafening, and we've seen the Gar shrink to ten members at a class.We've seen Sifus come and go and members do the same..The only thing that has never changed is Martins passion for teaching,passion for people,passion for giving and passion for martial arts.If this dude was a guitarist he'd be Hendrix.
Music is like martial arts..its about timing,rhythm,discipline...but most importantly...expressing yourself honestly without lying to yourself...which is very difficult to do(Bruce Lee quote)..but with people like Martin you can see its possible.Visit his site here and visit all the other links in my post as well and see how awesome NZ Martial Arts really is....