Karobics! An intriguing form of martial art movements performed to music, which, when followed by a demonstration of serious, tight, disciplined martial art's techniques by the same group, drew Roger to become a Zen Do Kai (ZDK) white belt, under the tutelage of Sensei Scott Hill and Dai Sempai Heinrich Hofer in late 1989. The exposure that day to the skill and expertise, particularly by the female students in the class, changed this neophyte, unintentional martial artist’s life!!
Initially training 3 times a week, Roger learnt and acted upon, his first and most difficult, major lesson; that of “bowing in respect to the Dojo and to his teacher!” This is an act of compliance, acceptance and trust which is the essential first step needed before a karateka can progress in the Way. Lesson learnt, Roger now began slowly progressing in the style, attaining his Blue and Green Belts in Dec '89 and March ’90, respectively.
With improving suppleness, agility and delight, he realised that in the Martial Arts he had discovered a perfect, thought provoking, supplement to the endurance events (triathlons and marathons) that were his then sporting outlet. As a persistent, enthusiastic, if not very skilled, but eventually disciplined student, he slowly developed an understanding of martial arts precepts and principles. By now he was training 7 times a week with Sensei Heinrich Hofer and Sensei Mike Downton. He attained the rank of Brown Belt in Dec ‘90.
Coincident with Renshi Gary MacRae founding the Golden Knights in Dec 1990, Roger was transferred to Melbourne. From that time, he performed all his gradings, up to and including Nidan, with both the Golden Knights and ZDK.
By now completely involved in the “Way of the Bushido” and training 10 times a week, Roger, in addition to studying Muy Thai Kick Boxing, received his Shodan Ho ranking in Dec ’91. Having already progressed in the Martial Arts far beyond his initial expectations, he somewhat unexpectedly found himself substituting for his Sensei and was teaching his own classes. At the same time, to improve his balance, posture and footwork, he attended ballroom dancing lessons twice a week for 2 years.
1992! A year of significant achievement in the Way! Playing the “despicable male” for Sensei Rebecca Tanner (ZDK), he helped present her Woman’s Self Defense courses. He received his black Gi and Bushido Cross from both Sensei Heinrich (GK) and Sensei Craig Boswell (ZDK), unexpectedly received the Chapman Cup Trophy from Shihan Gary, and was, with considerable assistance from Sensei Rebecca, confirmed as Shodan in both styles. He also achieved Muy Thai Brown Singlet status and was promoted to Sempai by Sensei Craig! In his Shodan essay, Roger described his second major martial art lesson, being that "the proficiency and status of a Martial Artist is not necessarily designated by the colour of their belt" He also now understood that one should use one's martial arts training to avoid needing to use one's skills outside the Dojo.
Now living in Sydney, and still training 10 times a week under Sensei Marc Erbsleben (ZDK), he prepared for, and on consecutive weekends in Adelaide and Sydney, in Dec ’93, attained his Nidan rank. Shortly thereafter, Roger was promoted to Dai Sempai (ZDK) by Sensei Marc, the founder of Kaizen Ryu Freestyle Karate.
Over the next 10 years, from May ’94 as a Sensei with Kaizen Ryu and as a Dai Sempai in ZDK, Roger continued to train, teach, and attend Aikido, Ninjitsu and Go-Kan-Ryu classes, while also developing and presenting, several Martial Arts seminars, self defense courses and stretching and training programmes.
On returning to Adelaide in June 2003, Kyoshi Gary MacRae referred Roger to Renshi Anthony Hudson. Renshi immediately asked Roger to remove his belt and to take his rightful place in class to the right of the white belts, thus providing Roger’s third major martial arts lesson; being that of “humility, and the need to learn and earn, one’s place and rank in the Dojo!”.
In Nov '05, capping his promotion to Sandan Ho in Aug '05, Renshi Anthony promoted Roger to Sensei. In '06, Renshi Anthony and Roger produced two training DVDs and Roger was granted his Torc and Sword pendant in Sept '07. Roger also began studying Iaido with Sensei Anthony.
Now teaching and training 3 to 4 times a week and with three major lessons under his belt, Renshi Anthony suggested that Roger should consider presenting for his Sandan examination. With some trepidation and a lot of help and guidance from Sensei Renee and Sempais Jon and Luke, Roger successfully obtained his Sandan rank in Jun '08. For his Sandan, Roger presented his ideas of the possibility of a "Peaceful Warrior" figure in his essay and designed a badge which symbolically expressed the congruence of the coexistence of such disparate virtues in one thought and one entity.
In a very exciting, busy 2009, Roger assisted Renshi Anthony in the establishment of Bushido Martial Arts and received his Phoenix pendant in June of that year.
Summary: Roger explains, “What an unexpected journey! The involvement in the Martial Arts invokes a continuing sense of wonderment, enjoyment and opportunity in me. With dedicated practice, the physical elegance and subtle nuances of complexity of the techniques and Kata, the manifold intellectual dimensions and the potential for self improvement can be explored. By transcending technique and developing intuitive action, one can glimpse the path to, the possibility of, a deeper dimension of self realisation. Even after 21 years, I am still totally absorbed, captured, in the now, by the evolving events in class; time just disappears! In the Dojo, no matter the source, whether as pupil or teacher, I always learn something new about myself, the Art or the Way.”