The Newfoundland Herald
Doyle's Perfect Routine|
Elvis Stojko couldn't say enough about his marital arts instructor and Newfoundland-born pal, Glen Doyle.
"We started working together when I was about 17," Stojko says in a telephone interview. "Glen taught me the Hung Gar Kung-Fu style of martial arts - the way of physically learning about the style itself."
"It's a combination of quickness, speed and muscle explosion. You learn how to think as a warrior, you learn breathing techniques, things like that."
According to Stojko, determination, hard work, and a strong desire to be the best that he can be, are the traits that lead Glen Doyle to three Canadian Kung-Fu championships.
"Glen just loves Kung-Fu. He has a drive to be excellent at it - to do his best. Plus, he has an inner drive to understand himself. He does that through the martial arts."
The three-time world figure skating champion had no qualms about writing the foreword for his instructor's book - perhaps because Stojko believes the book has more to offer than other similar publications.
"I think Glen's book (The Martial Artist's Way) is a nice departure from the regular "how to" martial arts books that are out there. We all know some things look good on paper but just don't work," Stojko says.
"There are many martial arts books that people put together and write on the theory. Working with Glen all these years, I know he has a lot to offer in this book. His theories are rock solid. A lot of the stuff I've tested competitively so I know it works. This book will get you involved whether you're a beginner or an advanced student. It's a book for everybody. All aspects of martial arts are covered. And the book helps you understand yourself. That's the most important thing really. Glen's stuff is pretty legit; it's a great book to read."
Although Glen is still Stojko's instructor, because Elvis has become a martial arts expert in his own right, the duo now work as a team.
"Glen and I are very close. We talk about everything. We come up with ideas and throw them back and forth; that type of thin. Glen's my best friend," Stojko says with conviction.
Tell me about your life as a child?
My Dad (Greg) is from Avondale. He was in the Korean war. He boxed for the Canadian Army when he was down in Australia and Japan...all these places. He ran marathons as well. Actually, he won The Daily News marathon on 1955. When I turned four or five Dad bought me a little pair of boxing gloves and away we went. Dad's way of teaching was he didn't coddle me. I'd punch him a couple times and I'd be like, hey, great. Now most parents would be like 'Oh, that was good,' but Dad would punch me right in the face. You know he wouldn't hurt me but just enough to say you're gonna get some if you give some. So I got a really good training regiment just from my childhood basically.
So what was the biggest lesson you learned from your Dad?
I remember one time I was in Grade 5 or 6. One of the Grade 8 kids didn't like me very much. This was in Toronto. He was going to give me a good shellacking at the end of school. I mean I'm not a big guy, I'm only five-foot-five. And when I was a kid, I was always one of the smaller kids so obviously you're always going to be a target. Well, my Dad was a marathon runner so I figure I'll run first and see what happens. So I ran all the way home. I came into the house and I was huffing and puffing. Dad looked at me and asked what was wrong. I told him that this guy in school wanted to beat me up. But I said 'don't worry, I got away from him, I'm here now, I'm safe.'
Dad went and took me out to where the guy was waiting for me and he made me fight him. When he figured it the fight was over, he pulled me back and he took me back into the house. The only thing I remember him saying to me was 'If you run from him today, you're going to run from him tomorrow and you're going to run from him the rest of your life.' That was Dad's way of teaching me that you've got to stand up for certain things.
When your Dad retired - he came back to Newfoundland?
Yes. He retired in 1989. He sold the house in Toronto and came back. Unfortunately, he just passed away last year, after a battle with cancer. But he had nine years of retirement so he was happy.
He lived long enough to see your talents put to work though, huh?
Yes, you're right about that. And there's a nice dedication to him in the front of the book. And a beautiful picture of him. That was probably the most important thing to me. I mean I really would have loved for him to be alive to see the book come out (February 14, 1999) but he knew it was being done. He was happy with that. And I'd won three Canadian championships and he was proud of that. Dad always told me that if you're really good at something you can always make a living at it. He never wanted me to do a job I didn't like.
Tell me how the book came about?
Every time I would train, I would take notes. The book is an overview of the martial arts. It's my personal opinions on what I've learned. I don't believe you can learn technique from a book but I believe you can learn a way of thinking. And that's all my book is. It's not going to teach you how to fight. It's going to teach you how to train, how to pick a school, how to pick a style, what you can expect in your psychological make-up as you go through the ranks, what you can expect from the street as opposed to your club, how to train by yourself, how to train with a group. But the book never tells you what to do. It just opens your eyes to what you will see and it's a guide to what to expect.
When did you become interested in the martial arts?
My Dad was teaching me boxing but I told him that if I were to fight somebody who weighs more than me, then I'm going to lose. Okay, in the ring everybody's weight division but if I get into a fight in the street and the guy is 250 pounds...I mean I wasn't even 100 pounds at that time. So I told Dad 'there's got to be something else out there.' Then, later on, one day I went to a Bruce Lee film festival. I sat and watched this guy and I knew that's what I wanted to do. I saw maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Plus Bruce Lee was in great physical shape.
You're referred to as Sifu Glen Doyle. What does Sifu mean?
Teacher. I'm Elvis' sifu and James Lore is my sifu.
Okay this interview is about Glen Doyle but now that Elvis' name has come up, tell me how a little guy from Avondale, Newfoundland, got to become both a friend and a sifu to Elvis Stojko?
Elvis' older brother, Attila, was a member of our club. I was an instructor. It was 1989. Anyway, Attila told me that his brother was a figure skater and wanted to put martial arts on ice. Elvis was still a junior then. He was just hitting his triple axle, that will tell you how long ago it was. Anyway, he told me that Elvis had studied Karate for about six years but found it too linear. He was having a hard time putting it on ice. Attila asked me, where everything is circular in Kung-Fu, could I help out his brother. Because circles on ice work, right?
Maybe I shouldn't say this but you seem so young to be such an expert. Are you always taken seriously?
(Laughs). In 1995 I was a guest performer at the opening of the World Championships in Baltimore. They're like the Olympics of martial arts. When I got off the plane their faces dropped. I knew they were thinking how old is this guy. They expected a very serious regal kind of martial arts instructor. I'm not like that. Elvis and I were goofing around like crazy kids. You see, I love to laugh and I always have a good relationship with my students. We train seriously but they don't have to walk around with a two-by-four strapped to their spine, with their nose stuck up in the air thinking they're better than everyone else.
So my relaxed style, coupled with my young look, left people not knowing how to take me. So, more times that not, I could not win over a cowd until I moved. Then they'd say 'Oh, he's the real deal.' But if I just came into the room people would look at me and go 'Come on, it's Howdy Doody, how can he do anything,' but when I do my stuff people come up to me and they're totally different.
You left Newfoundland when you were a child. Do you call Ontario your home now?
I tell everybody I'm from Newfoundland. I live in Toronto, I was educated in Toronto but this is where I was spit out into the world (laughs). I use the fact that I'm from Newfoundland in every interview. It's the first thing I say. So although I live in Ontario because that's where the business is and that's where I make a living, my hear is here. It always has been. Because even though I left here when I was four, I came back every Summer so it's not like I don't know Newfoundland.
What does the future hold for Glen Doyle?
Well the book comes out in February and that's going to take up most of my year I hope. There's talk of a 10-city tour in the States. I'm working to do a film too. It's in development now. I'm pushing to get it shot here in St. John's.
Any more books in sight?
Yes, I want to do a book for women only and I want to do a medical book on martial arts injuries. If the film takes off, hopefully I'll do some more film work and some more choreography. And I'll keep training Elvis and giving seminars.
Which you'll start doing again when you go back to Ontario next week?
Yes, back to the mayhem of Toronto. I tell you it gets harder to go back each time. I think my Mom (Shirley) is going to have to load a gun to get me on the plane this time. I just love it here. If I could make a living here I'd be here in a New York minute. Right now, that's just not in the cards but I hope to find my way back here eventually.
That's great to hear.
Yes, you see I want to put Newfoundland on the international map, that's for sure. That's my hidden agenda. I want Newfoundland to be an internationally-known place. I would love to be able to be the one to do that. I mean, that's a huge goal to set for myself but we'll see what happens.
You're adamant about this aren't you?
Yes. And I get that from my Dad. Because no matter where my dad was in the world - N.F.L.D. - Never Found Lying Down - is what he used to say. I told him one day, I said 'Dad, if I can I'm going to make this an internationally known landmark. I'm going to put Avondale on the map.'
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