I loved how Rodney King weaved his life story, and together with his martial art practice, was able to succeed and win at the martial arts of everyday life.
Homeless at 17 and Sleeping On the Streets
Until my late 20s, I felt like I had been fighting my whole life. Brought up on the south side of Johannesburg, in South African government housing (similar to “the projects” in the USA), I learned early on that what really mattered was not how smart you were, but whether you were tough enough. Growing up, I often felt trapped in a really bad nightmare—and I wanted to wake up.
But tough times build strong character, and I was determined to survive the school bullies and the mean streets of my neighborhood. That’s how I discovered martial arts, and set the course for the rest of my life. If I hadn’t started training in karate and boxing, I wouldn’t be standing today in front of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and other success-minded people . . . coaching them on how to achieve personal excellence.
Things turned rough in my teens. My abusive, alcoholic mother kicked me out of the house at 17 and, as a result, I never finished high school. I found myself sleeping on the streets with less than $20 in my pocket—yet today I consult with leaders of industry, train top security forces, and run my own international business.And it’s all because of martial arts, all because of the Crazy Monkey Defense (CMD) way!
CMD taught me to be resilient, to embrace my fears, to develop laser-like focus, and to never give up. Having developed those qualities (I had to!), I went back to school, put myself through college, and earned my Doctorate from the University of Leicester’s School of Business. My thesis and research focused on the embodied aspect of Mindful-Leadership. Key to my research was studying the efficacy of mindfulness first taught through an experiential, action oriented approach, and its subsequent application to leadership performance. In addition, I earned my Master of Arts degree in Leading Innovation and Change from York St John Universities School of Business. My undergraduate work was in psychology.
Rodney coaching the Trainers who will go on to teach cabin crew how to deal with unruly passengers onboard an aircraft
Over the years, I have taught special-force military operators, law enforcement teams and close protection groups how to survive when all else fails. I have taught defensive tactics and inner game skills, largely drawn from Crazy Monkey Defense, to Google, Facebook, AirBnB, Singapore Airlines and others.
You see, I did wake up from that nightmare. What I learned on the mat as a martial artist, helped me not only take on those tough, mean streets of Johannesburg, but it empowered me to take on life, full throttle, and to succeed.
What I learned, and what I teach my students and Trainers today, may surprise you. Being tough is not about aggression, violence, or killer instinct. In fact, everything I teach is the complete opposite: it’s about having a Buddha Mind, and a Warrior body—Zen in the midst of chaos.
Most importantly it works!
It worked for me, and it works for my students not only on the dojo floor, but in their lives and careers.
My motto has always been: “Performance is performance”—meaning it doesn’t matter whether it is on the street where “performance” shows up as self-preservation, or in the boardroom during tough negotiations. The ingredients for successful performance—in all areas of life—transcend the situation. The “inner tools” that shape success are perennial and universal. That’s what I discovered as I struggled to survive on the mean unforgiving streets of Johannesburg, and then developed it into the Crazy Monkey Defense System to help myself and my students thrive, as we face the inevitable challenges of today’s competitive world.
Rodney teaching the Mindful-Defence Workshop, inspired by Crazy Monkey Defense at Facebook, Hong Kong
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I have now worked with Rodney in various capacities—as a mentor, a collaborator, and as a student on the mat, and the more I have the privilege of knowing and being with him, the more I realize how exceptional he is in what he does. He has a natural leadership ability to inspire others to tap into their own capacities and to stretch beyond self-imposed limits. Truly, working with Rodney King you step into what he calls “full contact living.”
Rodney King is one of the most thoughtful and innovative martial artists in the world today. By focusing on the mental aspects of learning and performance, he is redefining the way that martial arts are viewed, taught, and experienced. He knows that success in any endeavor requires more than knowledge or physical ability – that the mental game will drive the outcome. With the acumen of an experienced and mindful coach, Rodney can help you shape your future, attain your goals and perform to your full potential.