Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

From Aussie Kid to Master of Asian Martial Arts; Martial Arts through the Generations

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

From Aussie Kid to Master of Asian Martial Arts; Martial Arts through the Generations

Article excerpt

Byline: WORDS Doug Gillett

MARTIAL artist Gary O'Neal says the story of how the son of an Australian sheep-shearer became an internationally respected martial arts expert is a long and interesting one.

The self-defence specialist hopes his new Golden Dragon Martial Arts College will help breathe some fire into practitioners in Bundaberg.

There's more salt than pepper in the hair of Mr O'Neal these days and he admits to being not quite as agile or nimble as in the days of his fighting prime.

His gentle handshake and softly spoken manner mask a training in the deadly Chinese and Japanese warrior arts.

A slight beer belly poking from the folds of his traditional warrior robe hint at comfort and good eating.

But hand the man a samurai sword, and he will swing it around his body like it's a cheerleader's baton and leap into the air feet first like Bruce Lee.

During a lifetime commitment to martial arts, he has become proficient in a variety of martial arts disciplines including samurai weaponry, ninja weaponry and Chinese warrior arts weaponry.

Mr O'Neal said his passion for martial arts began at the age of 10 when he was befriended by a middle-aged Chinese neighbour while he was a student of Penshurst Marist Brothers in Sydney.

He can remember beginning training at 4.30am before school, and then starting his evening lesson when he arrived home.

As his skill base grew, Mr O' Neal said his Chinese mentor, known to him as Xian Ping, funded trips to China and Mongolia during his school holidays to further his training.

C[pounds sterling]I'm not sure why he took an interest in me,C[yen] he said.

C[pounds sterling]I was a pretty normal Australian kid. My father was a wool-classer with Australian Wool and Produce.C[yen]

Mr O'Neal first trained in the tai chi martial arts discipline, then moved on to tai chi chun boxing, through to a style known as pakua hsingi, and then on to weaponry such as swords, throwing knives and archery. …

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