Gwion Thornley

Sensei Gwion Thornley aka The G-Man
I believe I have always been obsessed with martial arts even before I started training properly and that was over twenty years ago.
My training started with the Maai Hyoshi Dojo’s under the teachings of Sensei Michael Gent in 1992, though back then it wasn’t called the Maai Hyoshi . My first love was the Katana or the ‘Japanese Long Sword” and my hero was Miyamoto Musashi (The legendary swordsman of Japan). I trained for two years and received my brown belt within the system. During this time I learnt that many of the skills within Ninjutsu originated in China. I decided to further my study in the martial arts - I began to study the Chinese system know as Wing Chun. I studied this for three years. In 1997 I returned to the Maai Hyoshi Dojo’s and within a year received my Black Belt from Shidoshi Gent.
By this time, things were beginning to change in the New Zealand martial arts scene. BJJ (Brazilian Jiujutsu) had arrived in New Zealand and the Maai Hyoshi were leading the charge by accepting its unique ground fighting methods into their studies and bringing out instructors from all over the world. In 1996, I received my yellow belt, from the Grappling Unlimited School run by Egan Inoue. However, my favoured skills were in the striking arts so I moved on again, immersing myself in a variety of striking arts.
For the next few years I spent time studying varies fighting arts such as Karate, western boxing, under the guidance of the trainers at the Auckland Boxing Association and studied T’ai Chi learning the flow and power within this very deceptive system. Finally, I moved my attention to the Southern Kung Fu system of ‘Tiger Mantis’. I continued studying this explosive, close fighting systems for nine years in which I achieved a rank high enough (Brown Belt Black Stripe) to teach and opened a school which I ran successfully in Central Auckland for several years. Teaching Southern Kung Fu was a great experience for me, running a school changed everything for me. Suddenly, it was no longer about me. It was about them, the students. They weren’t as obsessed as I was, but still I had to make them effective. I had to deliver, even though most of them only trained twice a week.
My training started to evolve faster than the system that I was teaching could handle. I was now drawing from other systems, my passion for the martial arts had lead me to wrestling and back to western boxing which in turn allowed me to develop what I knew. I closed my school down to allow me to pursue boxing and wrestling. I needed to learn everything I could about these systems. They are both European systems and the training was at my doorstep, so I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
At about the same time I decided to return to the Maai Hyoshi Dojo’s to undertake study in the art of BJJ and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). They had recently lost their founder Shidoshi Gent, which was quite a shock for me. The Auckland branch was being run by a long time friend. My new training in the company of my old friend allowed me to pursue an open minded understanding of many martial arts.
I soon found myself helping out in the role of assistant instructor, my knowledge of many martial arts allowed me to provide insight into the world of MMA. I was then given the chance to teach again, this was something I did not intend to do so early after my return, but was humbled by the opportunity and embraced the chance.
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