Setting up my own martial arts system has had its challenges and it certainly attracted a lot of attention. Word quickly got that there was a new and interesting way to learn martial arts. I made many new friends and met many great like minded martial artists, but there was also a negative. I had to make sure that I was at the top of my game as I was constantly having to prove the system was effective and worthy to take its place as a new and modern martial art.
Challenges would float in weekly and if you were training with me back then, you would know that it was common for me to stop the class and accept the challenge. There were many times when I also accepted challenges outside of the dojo that most did not know about. It was a great time to be training, exciting but very scary. It definitely paved the way and laid down the foundation for our great Northstar Dojo. Northstar Ju Jitsu proved it self against many Australian and World Martial Arts Champions and also was taken to the edge by many unknowns that had incredible heart.
One challenge stands out above all others….
One evening I received a phone call from another martial arts instructor to let me know that there is a member of one of Sydney’s bikie gangs that is going around and testing himself against at many of the local martial arts schools. By the time I received the phone call this bikie had managed to impress many of the local martial arts teachers and was looking for his next challenge. This martial arts instructor that called me had just been visited by the bikie and managed to talk his way out of a confrontation by kindly giving my details. So he was calling me to warn me!
Sure enough, the following Saturday, we had just commenced training when this man mountain appeared at the dojo door in full bikie colours. He stood there and demanded to see Andrew Dickinson. He looked me squarely in the eye and said “are you fighting today?” “I am now,” said. As he walked into the dojo, I discreetly locked the door behind him, ensuring that only the winner would walk out.
This was often the one thing that separated myself from the various challengers. I was always deadly serious and willing to put it all on the line.
“Junior” was the sergeant at arms for one of the larger bike clubs at the time. A massive lump of muscle well over 190cm and weighing in at over 120kg. He had a red goatee beard and a plat of red hair that extended to his waist. He had a fierce reputation and was well respected by other bikie gangs, not to mention that he had already mixed it with several other top martial arts instructors. Seeing him standing there, of coarse I was scared. I could feel the mix of fear and adrenalin surge through my body. On the outside I was calm and relaxed but on the inside I was screaming and wanted to run in the opposite direction as fast as possible.
I simply said, “you are welcome to join us”, to which he took off his jacket, shoes and socks and walked onto the mat wearing jeans and a t-shirt. As it was our regular sparring session there was a range of belts. Junior joined the end of the line and make short work of several brown belts, literally picking them up and slamming them into the mats. I knew I had to put a stop to this and I had to do it fast.
We stood in front of each other and I could feel his fear. I knew that he was unpredictably dangerous and this would be a dirty scrap if I let it go on.
I bowed, he stood and glared. As he took one step towards me I launched a front leg turning kick that landed square on his jaw. The sound of my foot smashing into his face stopped the entire room. His eyes dimmed as he dropped to both knees. I quickly followed up by rushing him onto the ground and drawing his long plat around his neck continued to choke him with his own hair. I clearly remember him trying to find my eyes with his thumbs as he slowly became limp, when I finally let go of him, he was sound asleep! A minute or so later as he was trying to crawl on all fours back to the door, my younger brother, also a black belt, said “oh no you don’t, we have not finished with you yet”. Junior took a terrible pounding that day! He was very quiet by the end of it, politely excused himself as we unlocked the door and let him out.
The following Monday, he was back at the dojo. I thought, here we go again! But to my surprise he was dressed in normal gear and looked completely different from the first time I met him. He extended his hand and requested to become my student. Junior had been looking for a teacher that could tame him, and he found that in our school. He was humble and respectful so I allowed him to join as a white belt. Junior trained with us for 5 years, almost gaining a black belt. Though our worlds were different, we respected each other. I did not really understand what it meant to be a Hells Angel, and the only condition he could train was if you left that world behind when he came to train. I also made it very clear that he was not allowed to use any martial arts that I taught him…which did become quite difficult to control.
Junior became my close friend. He was respected and loved by many in the dojo. Years later Junior and I would often laugh as we would re live the first time we met. He would say he knew that he was in trouble the moment he laid eyes on me, funny as I thought the same thing. He never saw the kick, so he never knew what hit him, all he would say is that he had never been hit so hard.
One winter morning in 1998 as I was arriving back from Japan, I got the terrible news that Junior had been murdered. It was a huge blow to all that knew him. A seemingly unprovoked attack by a gunman that was intent on killing him. Junior kept us all well protected from his other world, so I never knew the depth of his darker side, though I had a healthy respect for his love of his Bikie life. I loved him like a brother and accepted him for his humanness.
David “junior” Newham.