My friend Mike ...
This week, while he was on the mat, doing what he most loved to do, he collapsed - cause of death as yet unknown.
Mike was an extremely interesting man. A warrior through and through. He was a hard man - Old School - is how the kids of today would describe him. He trained in Japan with Hatsumi Sensei, before the gi's turned black; and when a bokken strike to the head, mean't exactly that. He was never a man to pull pumches and never one to sit on the sidelines. Whether running his security company, doing his bodyguard work or on the mat each evening, he was in all things, a Man of Action.
I first had contact with Mike back in the early 80's when I was running Blitz magazine. He seemed interesting then and I ran an article on him. It was years later though, that I finally met the man, when I came to New Zealand to teach some BJJ seminars. Mike picked me up from the airport and took me to his dojo. "Where are the mats?' I asked - 'Mat's? We don't need mats' he replied. I liked him immiediately! And so we went at it! Wooden floor, grappling, sweat, bumps, bruises and some small quantities of blood. It was well over a year before I could talk Mike into getting mats for his students sakes. That was a big compromise for Mike.
Mike was a very proficient and hard martial artist, with loads of street experience under his belt. He was a passionate teacher and a loving family man. What I have to say about Mike, cannot be expressed in a few paragraphs here - but one thing that stood out about him the most, was his unceasing desire to be a student of the martial arts. He loved his BJJ training - it opened up a whole new world for him - another complex challenge; one he undertook with great passion. Although he held the rank of purple belt - he was to receive his brown belt on my next visit. We will honor him with that rank as of now.
I am sad - as must be all of his students; but the truly deep sadness lays with his family - Mel, Warwick and Cherise. I know that all who knew him will be there for them - and will do whatever we can to assist in this time of great grief.
You were a great man Mike - and you took on life head on. You really lived my friend - and will be sadly missed.
JBW March 2006