From my early years, my father would give my brothers and I boxing lessons, as he use to box in the Navy, but my initial introduction to martial arts was in 1973. I was 12 years old and came across a magazine in the local newsagency with Bruce Lee on the cover. I pestered my mum to buy it and it got me hooked. There was an ad in the back for Lawrence Lee Kung Fu school, which had information of a local branch.
My parents enrolled my younger brother and I and we loved it. The Instructor even looked like Bruce Lee, dressed in the same white top and black pants from Enter the Dragon. I actually still have the original magazine along with numerous others I have acquired over the years.
I lost count of how many times I went to see the Bruce Lee movies at the theatres. This was before video players were a household item. I also became a big fan of the Billy Jack films which starred Grandmaster Bong Soo Han and introduced me to the art of Hapkido.
During my teenage years I also tried a couple of Karate styles and started boxing at the North Sydney Police Boy’s club with a school friend. In 1978 I started my plumbing apprenticeship and at the time, I was also heavily involved with rugby and surf life saving, competing at the Australian titles at Perth in 1979, the same year my father passed away.
I went on to do Tae Kwon Do and achieved my black belt in 1983. It was in Tae Kwon Do that I first met a young boy named Matthew Geister, a cheeky but talented martial artist. Some things never change!! We have a lot of history together and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time training with Matt.
While training in Tae Kwon Do, myself and two other friends commenced training in Hapkido. We were very impressed with the Art and Grandmaster Kim. It had aspects of everything I had studied before but gave me so much more to learn and the teaching and philosophy of Grandmaster Kim was inspiring.
I married in 1984 to Ruth White…she had to change colours, White to Brown. We divorced in 2006.
In 1985 we arranged to have Grandmaster Kim teach on the Northern Beaches, first at Curl Curl then at Harbord. Two of my brothers Colin and David joined at Curl Curl. David only lasted a couple of months but Colin went on to gain his Red belt.
In 1985, I also competed in the AHA’s very first annual tournament and was fortunate to win the Male Grand Champion and Master Daniel Marie‘s wife, Annette won the Female Grand champion.
I achieved my Black Belt in 1985 and went on to intruct at Harbord. In 1986, I opened a club in Manly and various other branches such as Newport, Narrabeen and Avalon, at one stage teaching 5 nights a week.
I was very fortunate in the early days to have a great bunch of students who had previous martial arts experience and became impressive Black Belts with the AHA. They helped me over the years with numerous demonstrations and instructing classes. Master Matt Geister, John Ansley and Steve Tamanini to name but a few and who are all now senior members of the AHA.
In 1987 I attempted my 2nd Degree grading but was unable to complete it due to injury, later achieving my 2nd Degree in 1988.
In 1988 my first daughter Jessica was born.
In 1989 my club organized a ski weekend to Thredbo to raise money for jigsaw mats, we had a great time with many a funny story to tell.
In 1990 my second daughter Rhiannon was born.
In 1992 I achieved my 3rd Degree and it was also the year that the Oxford St Dojang closed it’s doors. A very sad day as many of us had fond memories of our beginnings there.
In 1993 my third daughter Erin was born and in 1994, I leased a fulltime Dojang in Brookvale calling it Northern Beaches Hapkido. My daughter Jessica was the first student (BR01) in the new club when she was 6 years old.
In 1995, I travelled to Korea for the first time with Grandmaster Kim and a team of Black Belts from various branches of the AHA. Great friendships were formed and what we learnt with our training regarding footwork, lower centre and breathing etc. had a huge impact on our Hapkido.
On my return from Korea in 1995 I graded to 4th Degree. It was at this time that Grandmaster Kim decided to take a step back and appointed me President and Technical Director of the AHA. It was a huge honour and with the help and support of a great committee, it made the transition much easier.
In 1999, I graded to 5th Degree and was invited to be on the cover of Blitz and Australasian TKD magazines, they also presented me with Blitz Instructor of the year.
In 2002, I led another team of Black belts to Korea along with Grandmaster Kim, which was another fabulous experience of training and forming friendships.
In 2006, I opened a Dojang in Mona Vale and was very honoured to have Grandmaster Kim present me with 6th Degree.
In 2007 I travelled to the United States and stopped in at Santa Monica to meet Grandmaster Bong Soo Han, unfortunately he was too sick at the time and sadly I heard the news he had passed away only a day later. I visited a gravesite in Seattle and paid my respects to the person who started me on my Martial Arts journey…Bruce Lee.
Also, in 2007, I was invited to travel to Korea with Master Daniel Marie and John Ansley to participate in the first World Yongmudo Championship. With over 20 other countries involved, the three of us had a fabulous time and we came away with a Gold medal for self defence demonstration. Also enjoyed training with Master Kang at his Gongkwon Yusul Headquarters in Seoul.
In 2007 I also acquired my Certificate 3 Group exercise and Certificate 4 Personal Training qualifications.
In 2009 I was deeply saddened by the passing of my dear friend Scott Wetherell. His passing had left a huge hole in the AHA but it was with great pride, that Grandmaster Kim saw fit to present him with 5th Degree and be recognized as Master Scott Wetherell.
In 2010, my Mona Vale Dojang moved premises to the Pittwater Sports Centre and thus changing our branch name to Pittwater Hapkido. I have a great bunch of students and my Black Belts Samantha Sese and Sydney Canja have been a huge help with the club and taking the kids classes. Other Black Belts Rob Prescott, Justine lobb and one of my earliest students (1986) John Ansley continue to support me and help out the club.
In 2011, I celebrated my 50th birthday and once more travelled to Korea with a team of Black Belts to compete at the World Yongmudo Championships. Another successful trip and great experience for those visiting Korea for the first time.
In February 2012, my eldest brother Colin sadly passed away aged 55 years. He began his training in Hapkido at Curl Curl in 1985 and reached the level of Red belt before having to move away. I have fond memories of training with Colin under Grandmaster Kim.
At the moment I am still teaching, conducting gradings, seminars and enjoying my time with the AHA
I have been involved with martial arts in some form or another for close on forty years and there aren’t too many other sporting codes around that can continue to keep you physically and mentally active as you grow older.
Grandmaster Kim instilled in us all, that we are not just an organization but a family. I have never had a break from Hapkido since I started because without it, I would feel a huge void in my life.
Over the years there have been numerous other events, friendships and experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. Hapkido became a big part of my life because it became a way of life.
Master Brown with his 3 daughters