Frank Murphy takes Centre Stage


MARTIAL ARTS ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE, February 2004, Vol. 16, No. 9, p.141 – 145

Frank Murphy Takes Centre Stage

This article introduces Frank Murphy’s ability as a public speaker and how he made appearances at events such as at David Lowe’s College of Martial Arts and  MAIA’s (Martial Arts Industry Association) conference in Las Vegas. As this interview was carried out straight after a breathtaking Clash of the Titans in 2004, Frank Murphy was asked his opinion and analysis on the refereeing at this event. It then progresses onto questions about his new project Kaizendo, what it is all about, and why he in particular, as a Taekwondo Master has decided to develop the Kaizendo system.

For the full original article with pictures please click on the picture of the above Martial Arts Illustrated Magazine or just read on:

From sleeping in a Bristol bus shelter in 1991 to performing as guest speaker for the world martial arts conference at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas this year, he has worn the t shirt (and the cap) before. A key player always at the forefront the major events in the growing British Martial Arts industry for the past ten years, MAI catches up with this years Clash of the Titans referee, Frank Murphy…. with an introduction by Bernard Taylor.

On first appearance if you didn’t know him personally you could be forgiven for mistaking his evangelical zeal and sometimes frivolous antics for that of a court jester.

Working a full time martial arts centre here inYorkshirewith MAI editor Bob Sykes, you get to see the full gamut of the martial industry, from the really serious folk stopping by to meet up and train with Bob to the wannabe cover stars peddling their wares to a sometimes cynical editor.

Recently I represented Bob at the annual Evolution Instructors Conference, commonly known as the College of Martial Arts held in the beautiful Forest of Arden hotel in Birminghamin early September. A host of top class speakers, billing companies and industry leaders, mostly from the US drew a capacity crowd which included all the top full time professionals and school owners from across Britain and Europe.

While the American speakers gave fantastic workshops which included a raft of new information put on by the host David Lowe of Evolution Marketing Systems the day belonged to the Master of ceremonies, Frank Murphy. With sharp wit mixed with experienced confidence he spoke with a brutal honesty sometimes making me and most of the audience feel that we were in “acres of diamonds” and warned of not letting this growing industry opportunity slip us by.

Recently he has been interviewed by Pat Marsh on BBC Kent local radio and the Birmingham performance has also had BBC Bristol Television contact him with an exciting offer in the pipeline for some of his “family” students. Shrewd media manipulator he may be but one thing I’ve noticed over the years is his relentless training routine that would put most men half his age to shame. Any time he drops by the Centre here inHuddersfieldits hard passionate serious training first and foremost.

For three years running he put a fighting team into the Clash of the Titans and took on teams of far greater numerical strength. That type of consistent training and involvement at such a top level takes guts and determination, especially when you consider his writing commitments for publications on both sides of the Atlantic.

His physical training seminars have always attracted a full house. Recently after one of his seminars inLiverpool, well known TAGB instructor Richie Saunders said he has never seen anything like his delivery and passion while teaching. With serious hard work as his enduring trait, I know most people change after his performances which are more akin to a concert show than a martial arts class. No month goes by that I don’t hear his name on someone’s lips or an inspiring phone call from the green man himself, truly in one word….champion.


BOB SYKES: Tough time tonight for a referee, especially for the Clash ????

 FRANK MURPHY: The job of referee is always tough no matter where, but it is an important one here at the “Clash” as the competitors get carried away. I am as guilty as anyone as you just get fired up for your team to win. My main concern here tonight was to make sure there were no serious injuries so it’s a responsible position.


Bob Sykes: Bit of a controversial decision there when you red carded two fighters, one from Chris Foran’s team Russell Lesser and Tamveer Akhtar from Master Akhtar’s team, especially when you did not consult the four corners judges?

Frank Murphy: Look Bob, I know only too well the amount of training that goes into getting ready for this competition, and many times I went home cursing the judges who were to my mind looking at a different competition completely when my team got some bad decisions. And yes, it’s hard to see six months training and preparation go down the drain over an inexperienced referee or corner judge raise a flag. Yes, what I did here tonight was controversial but I just thought these two particular fighters were over the top, making gestures that were gone beyond psyching each other out. I did not have the luxury of looking at a replay, the decision was taken with safety in mind, and calming down a fraction of the crowd that were bent on drawing blood. I must be mad to ref this anyway. The atmosphere on the sidelines was downright hostile not just mildly aggressive, so giving the corners judges the opportunity to judge that so called sparring bout was going to set a precedent. However having said all that it turned out to be a good Clash of the Titans with great teams.


Bob Sykes: Do you think any team can beat PUMA??

Frank Murphy : Don’t wind me up Bob, of course they can be beaten, but hats off to them for three in a row. Not only that, but gentlemen to boot and have injected new life into the Clash. The other two teams were also impressive, Chris Foran’s WTF Champion Team who are predominately  WTF Taekwondo competitors and this was there their first ITF style outing. As for Master Ahktar’s team I was disappointed he did not fight himself as he is one of the best when it comes to the fighting game.


Bob Sykes: They gave PUMA a few surprises!!

Frank Murphy: The last bout between Chris Banks who must be the youngest fighter here tonight. He just turned sixteen, and had a cracking match against Andy Humphries. Did you see them do that rival dance thing at the end? That was real sportsmanship.


Bob Sykes:  Do you see any other new stars emerging from the last three years here at the Clash?

Frank Murphy: I thought Don Dalton’s fighters were really sharp. PUMA have great character now after tonight’s performance and Vaughn Buxton, David Pixton and Kurt Stevens are always great to look at on the mats.


Bob Sykes: Will Family Martial Arts have a team to put forward in next years Clash?

Frank Murphy: We had three competitors in this one, Ian Lewis and James Case Upton fought on Chris Foran’s side as he had injury setbacks at the last minute and Paul Haworth went to Master Ahktar’s team . Paul has fought now I think in four Clash events and almost a vet at twenty two. Next year Master Akhtar is getting Jamie Beaumont to coach his team as for us at FMA, I would like to see a ladies team involved.


Bob Sykes: Your team did a brief demo of Kai Zen Do, What’s Kai Zen Do ?

Frank Murphy: It is a mix of concentrated martial arts that resulted from cross training these last few years. Sparring, grappling, boxing, trapping, kickboxing and even Tai Chi. However Kai Zen Do which means the way of constant and never ending improvement and also has elements of meditation, diet and mental exercises which are based on our student creed and the nine principles we try to live by. Kai Zen Do is a Network of like minded individuals who are striving to live their life to its fullest potential inside and outside the training hall.


Bob Sykes: Difficult to get all that across in a five minute demo??

Frank Murphy: Yes I know, and I keep on forgetting the diet sheets and we even cut out the ten minute meditation at the end. ( Laughs)


Bob Sykes: Do you seriously practise meditation ? and would you describe KZD as a soft art ?

Frank Murphy: I try not to take anything too seriously Bob; even the great Matt Thornton who is the new pioneer of “alive” martial arts says you must have fun in your practise. Look Bob, every instructor always strives to have the perfect class and we all hate losing students. Now call KZD hard or soft, perhaps it’s a great success is down to the balance of martial arts training and the mindsets of the individuals teaching it. When you consider we have only been operating for four years and we have not really pushed it in a marketing sense, the success has been phenomenal.


Bob Sykes: So it keeps students training longer?

Frank Murphy : It is still early days Bob, but so far all FMA schools who are implementing and practising what we teach on the instructors courses are doing well on enrolment and of course, retention.


Bob Sykes: Everyone knows you have a TaeKwon Do backround is Kai Zen Do mostly Kickboxing or Taekwondo without the patterns?

 Frank Murphy: As you know Bob, the minute you start putting labels on styles you put a limitation on the reader’s concept of something. We are all now training in the post crossover boom that swept across the martial art landscape and continues to this day. So when you say Taekwondo it means many things to many people, same as if you say Judo or  Kickboxing.


Bob Sykes: So is there anything that separates Kai Zen DO from other systems.

Frank Murphy: The Kai Zen Do Network of instructors, their determination and charisma are the main difference in terms of promoting it as a system. Kai Zen Do means constant and never ending improvement, in your physical and mental goals, so that covers a lot more than just the physical elements of a martial art. This is why all the classes have a strong student creed and the nine principles covered and recited during the workout.


Bob Sykes: So it’s a mix of all styles?

Frank Murphy: Yes, whatever works for self defence and fitness as well as stress relief. We have Yoga and Tai Chi in the system as well as the standard kicking  punching and grappling elements. There is a balance of hard and soft style training in so you can easily implement a Black Belt Club programme, and yes sometimes even meditation. Like it says the way of constant and never ending improvement, therefore it will never be completed as its forever evolving as we all are.


Bob Sykes:  Is it suitable for any instructor coming from any backround to try and adopt this system into their club?

 Frank Murphy: It is going to be difficult and uncomfortable depending on how professional they want to be. Running a club or an academy today you must have support and infrastructure. The physical style of the instructor crossing over really does not matter it’s the ability to seriously change. The sort of change I am talking about is of attitudes and beliefs towards teaching adults and children. Much of this work has been done by my wife Catarina, who is atLoughboroughUniversitydoing a Masters degree in Physical education. Instructor training now involves aspects of sociology, child psychology and development and the results of many years of research on classroom practise.  We get lots and lots of folk who ring up and say they want to crossover to the Kai Zen Do system, but few really are willing to take a hard look at their club, their life and their business and change. It’s so easy to stay put, practise a known martial art, and seek comfort with the masses on easy street. If they really want to change it is difficult in terms of personal change rather than monitory expense. If they call me on 01474 326967 they can arrange a few days with my team and see if it suits them. The pace of any change is up to an individual’s circumstances.


Bob Sykes; What are your future plans for the growth of the Kai Zen Do association?

Frank Murphy: We run a small advert in this magazine for anyone out there who wants to become a full member of the Kai Zen Do Network. It will suit some but not everyone. The best thing to do is to call at one of our clubs or attend one of our instructor’s courses. The actual style of martial art to look at first is nothing new. You have seen it all before, the difference is the way it’s portrayed and packaged to the student and their parents and the relationship it has with the organisational elements of running your club or school. The value of training in Kai Zen Do as it evolves will never reach a limitation. It will become more valuable than any after school or evening activity for you or your child to get involved in. The goal is to be more than just an evening activity we wish to make Kai Zen Do an education.


Bob Sykes: So it’s called the Kai Zen Do Network?

Frank Murphy: Any organisation that has a strong close network will prosper and expand. We learn, swap ideas send our instructors to courses and grow that way. We are as big as we want to be right now and will continue to evolve in this way.


Bob Sykes: Do you still wear uniforms like the dobuks in Taekwondo.

Frank Murphy: Although we allow T- Shirts in the summer, I think the uniform is good for getting into a proper frame of mind for training. When a new student walks in it is great to see all the uniforms neat and pressed and adds discipline to the class.

We do not however have any rank stripes on the black belts as the black belt certificate says the wearer upholds the concepts of gratitude, humility and respect. I might be a top class self defence instructor in my comfort zone in my academy but my student might defend me in a court of law. We all learn from each other regardless of rank hence the word network.


Bob Sykes: Do you still practise Taekwondo?

Frank Murphy: Yes, I still keep a hand in on the Patterns with Dave Martin and the odd time with David Harper, as they are both fourth degrees and they keep the old memory intact. However, most of my physical training is sparring related and cross training. I always loved boxing and haven’t had the sense to stop yet. I have to do Yoga everyday for an old back injury and I have no shortage of trainings partners at the academy in Dave Sheppard , Stephen Campbell, Jon Mills, Jagdeep Sagoo, Tommy Sinnott and Steve Sharkey’s mob when they come down.


Bob Sykes: June of 2004 marks 30 years of martial arts training for you. Was your recent appearance at the Las Vegas Hilton a big  highlight ?

Frank Murphy: Yes. I still pinch myself to think it happened. Dave Lowe has given me a new avenue with public speaking at martial art conventions, and a few offers are in the pipeline from outside the industry. The 30 years had a lot of great times.


Bob Sykes: Any plans to celebrate?

Frank Murphy: Most of that training Bob has been inCorkmy hometown, in the ITF style of Taekwondo and I have been fortunate to have been taught by my first instructor Master Aiden Walsh. If Terry Donnelly in Dublin is reading this perhaps he will put in a word. The Academy inGravesendKentthese past twelve years and the recent growth of FMA in Merseyside have bonded me with some great people on both sides of the pond. Master Ted Hopwood is another that helped me a lot in the beginning and we still keep in contact. Perhaps I will hire Woodville Hall in Gravesend and you can be Parky??? Don’t know about that crowd PUMA though?


Bob Sykes: Thanks again to your lads for doing the judging. MAI wish you and all at FMA the best for 2004.

Frank Murphy: Your are more than welcome Bob and thanks again for the interview.



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