He’s a ’90s martial arts movie star, a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame, and the leader of an entire discipline of karate.
He is Jeff Speakman, and he recently left his home in Las Vegas to hold three seminars for 120 people at the Macarthur Kenpo school in Narellan.
Mr Speakman described the tour of Australia as the ‘‘biggest and the best’’ he has ever completed.
He said: ‘‘It was packed, it was full to the brim and everything that we wanted to accomplish we did.’’
Mr Speakman, who has franchises of his Kenpo schools in 17 different countries around the world, tries to visit each school once a year, but has not been out to Australia for more than three years after he was diagnosed with throat cancer.
‘‘It’s been a long time between visits for us, and of course he’s the leader of our organisation,’’ said Martin Gosling, instructor at the the Macarthur school who has trained under Mr Speakman for 14 years.
‘‘Lots of the newer students had never met him, but they’d heard me talk about him all the time, and his posters are all over our walls.’’
After 36 rounds of intense chemotherapy and radiation, Mr Speakman was declared cured of his cancer.
He attributes his ability to fight through the gruelling cancer treatments to the discipline he has learnt through martial arts, focusing his thoughts only on the end result.
‘‘I have a very disciplined mind,’’ Mr Speakman said.
‘‘From the beginning of [the cancer treatments] it was ‘ok, A leads to B leads to C’, don’t let your mind drift, don’t wander, don’t go over there, stay here, concentrate on it working, do everything you can.’’
‘‘He’s an amazing man,’’ Mr Gosling said.
‘‘Just as you imagine a martial arts star would be — his will power and strength are astounding.’’
The Macarthur Kenpo school is the second largest in the world, behind only San Antonio, Texas, and was set to be the first destination for a proposed reality show following Mr Speakman.
‘‘For a while the trip was up in the air, because Mr Speakman was in the throes of creating a reality TV show,’’ Mr Gosling said.
Mr Speakman expects the reality show to get approval when he returns back to the United States in early September.
‘‘It’s called Black Belt Family and it’s based on this world that we have all built in all the franchise schools,’’ Mr Speakman said.
‘‘People have dedicated themselves an awful lot, [made] and awful lot of sacrifice around the world to accomplish what we have accomplished — so it’s a story about the sacrifice and the work that goes into making that happen.
‘‘You have to really dedicate yourself just to be a blackbelt, at least under me, so that that happens now in a place like Macarthur, Australia — I see them maybe twice a year and they, and their students, and their schools are absolutely on par with the talent and skill and knowledge and discipline of the schools that are in my backyard.
‘‘That’s really amazing, and that’s really the source of staggering pride for me.
‘‘That clearly is the thing in this life that I’m most proud of, is that my contribution to this art, to the martial arts will continue long after my death.’’