Sensei Matthew joined us here at Xen-Do in November 2019.
One of our most enthusiastic and up-and-coming instructors, Sensei Matthew is not only a thrill to be instructed by, but a fantastic addition to the Xen-Do family. Sensei Matthew now teaches at our luxury dojo in Mayfair, but what roads led him to this position? We thought that the best person to fill you in was Sensei himself. Here’s what he had to say about his martial arts journey:
My journey starts back when I was a young child of 4, sat in front of the TV watching shows like the Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Needless to say I was hooked and wanted to kick, flip and spin around like my heroes on TV. I would have started training in WTF Tae-Kwon Do under my Uncle who is a 5th Dan Black Belt in the style but the future held something different for me and my family emigrated to Cyprus in 1999.
Between the ages of 6 to 13, my love for martial arts grew until eventually in 2008 my parents signed me up to an ITF Tae-Kwon Do gym where two of my close school friends were already training at. Now, I would be lying if I said that the only reason I started Martial Arts was because of my passion for it, I also started Martial Arts because of the very bad temper I had as a child. Being the biggest child in your year (in height and width) I was bullied and teased so my way to deal with it was to fight back. Starting a new school in Cyprus where I could not speak Greek yet did not help the teasing and my violent reactions became slightly worse.
Starting Martial Arts as a big teenager with anger issues, I was served a big helping of humble pie very early on. Whether it was getting blasted across the dojo from a body shot or sparring against smaller opponents whom were too fast to catch, I learned very quickly that what I thought was my greatest advantage i.e my height and strength could be used against me and I would need to learn to adapt if I wanted to progress to the next level of training. What I had not realised yet was that I had found my calling.
I was a poor academic student, too much of a class clown and generally slower when it came to learning in school. Martial Arts however was a different ball game, for the first time I had finally found something I was good at and with that I was determined to take my training as far as it could go. Which was all the way to a 1st Dan Black Belt in ITF Tae-Kwon-Do.
As I grew older and my interests started to broaden, I found myself fascinated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the concept of training in multiple styles so with that I started training in Thai Boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2016 which then led to me competing in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament 8 months later in 2017 where I won the Silver medal in my weight class. Fast forward a few months, I emigrated back to the U.K and eventually found the next style on my list in Xen-Do Kickboxing. I will admit it is an intimidating feeling starting a brand new style from scratch but as intimidating as it was, I walked into every session with a smile on my face and left with an even bigger smile.
As a young boy starting Martial Arts, my reasons were simple. I wanted to do a jump spin kick like a Ninja Turtle and to control my temper. Now as a 27-year-old man, my goal is to train in as many styles as I can around the world, learn from some of the greatest minds in our field and lastly as the late great Bruce Lee once said:
“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”