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In the beginning
My life has been one of constant self-analysis and self-peeling; layer by layer. Being born with Cerebral Palsy, my youth was filled with operations, metal obstacles and physical blockages. What most people take for granted I had to find solutions around. One condition I had was that my palms would sweat almost all day. This meant I spent all of my schooling and first year of university reading and writing with handkerchiefs or towels under my hands so that the sweat would not destroy the pages. Additionally, I had to wear callipers; those big metal boots designed to help my walking and running capabilities. These boots were heavy and ultimately caused my lower back pain, a lot of discomfort, and not to mention the social embarrassment I felt by wearing them!
Luckily, I lived in a great, supportive community but for me it was still a time of teenage angst. This anxiety helped craft my perseverance and will. Compensating for my imbalances I developed very good problem-solving skills when it came to my body and how it functions. To increase my muscular strength, as a teenager, I started lifting weights under the recommendation of my chiropractor. It was a pivotal shift in my self confidence and physical ability to perform faster, stronger and more coordinated than ever before. My friends taught me techniques which we would modify to suit my needs. This new-found structural strength and sense of freedom from my physical form enabled my confidence and resilience to injury to grow, reducing the need for additional therapeutic rehabilitative services. Adaptability is at the heart of Focus and little did I know that this time as a kid would be the start of the Focus philosophy.
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Walking the unknown
During my university studies I continued lifting weights, gaining knowledge, strength and muscle. My development was now to the point where my Cerebral Palsy was considerably less noticeable. I also met a friend who introduced me to the Korean martial art Hapkido; an eclectic style encompassing a diverse range of people. The syllabus of Hapkido sees us as all being equal and is so vast that an individual may be skilled in multiple aspects, or alternatively, be highly skilled in one area. This pliable knowledge base and understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses are what makes Hapkido and Focus so powerful. It was here that I began my own fusion of weightlifting and martial science.
After university I became a full-time security and body guard. It was during this time that my own self development would begin and I would have to apply my knowledge in real-life, high-stress situations. My mind and body had to have synchronicity, putting the original Focus concepts to the test. Forging my body in the gym and the martial arts hall gave me the ability to resolve volatile situations with calmness, strategy and strength.
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I was hungry for higher levels of knowledge. I travelled to Korea, living and training in several styles of martial arts. It was here that I met a man who changed the trajectory of my life forever; Kung Fu Master 이히광, Master Lee He Gwang. One of the most influential people in my life, he helped shape my understanding and skills during the six years I spent living and training martial arts within Korea. He showed me what dedication and awareness are – not just in a physical sense, but also a mental one. My belief structure was strengthened and fortified to strive far beyond the limits of normality, to believe in something greater than ourselves, and to drive the mind, body and spirit beyond the limits imposed by the physical world, social beliefs and our own mind.
He did not speak English, and everyday he would say to me “Travis 열심히” which in English sounds like “yul shim hee”. This phrase has a double meaning. Firstly, it means how we do something: To act and train diligently, to work hard, to strive hard, to persist daily. Secondly, it refers to the physical and mental state while we do something: Train passionately, enthusiastically, ardently, tirelessly, fervently.
Every day I relive his teachings and strive to hold myself in a manner that honours him and reflects the values he instilled in me. I train myself and others in this way, with honesty and purity of heart; based on factual knowledge and personal experience. There is no other way, we must all strive and persist tirelessly and fervently. Here you will find not only results, but the truth about who you are and what you’re made of.
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After returning from Korea I opened my own martial arts school and studied personal training at one of the best fitness centres in Australia. It was here I learned the science of the human body like never before. The owner’s teachings and philosophies on lifting were so forward thinking; he gave me perspective and understanding that go far beyond the basic gym techniques which have flooded the industry for years. It was here that the two systems of mind and science collided. At its simplest, Focus is Asian martial principles combined with Western bodybuilding. It is this proven combination of focused fusion where your unlimited potentialities can be born.