2006 Champion - Luke Croxford

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Luke is a martial arts all-rounder, having trained in six styles since he first stepped into an aikido dojo at age seven. In the 21 years since, he has achieved his 2nd Dan in karate whilst also practising kung-fu, hapkido, taekwondo and his own martial art style, Ryu-Ki-Do.

His mixed style was well suited to the NAS tournament circuit, which heralded the introduction of a new points system. A natural kicker with speed, power and flexibility developed in his taekwondo training, Luke was happy to accept the extra points now being awarded for head-kicks and spinning kicks.

It was an umba-geri (hook-kick) to the head that turned the final bout for Luke as he fought for victory against the twice-defending Champion Ben Cunningham. When asked why he thought he'd won, Luke admitted, "It was definitely that last kick. That gave me a buffer, as there was only about 10 seconds left. In the past, kicks have only been worth one point, so I'd be doing kicks and getting the same as for a punch. I wasn't benefiting from having that extra arsenal, whereas now some of my favourite techniques can be rewarded."

luke-06As a teacher of his own martial art Ryu-Ki-Do (RKD), Luke tries to lead by example. "In martial arts, you've really got to show extra control because you're trying to show your humble side. My students learn from me not just by what I tell them but by what they see as well. I would never get angry, my attitude is the same. If I lose, I'm disappointed, but it doesn't go to that aggressive stage."

Luke was committed to his six-days a week training regime. "It would be consisting of karate, gym, taekwondo and hapkido. Going to the gym, I knew what I needed to work on. I worked on more explosive anaerobic power because in point–sparring you need that power and speed. Taekwondo was my cardio. Closer to the tournaments, it would predominantly be tournament training, drills and getting on the mat with an opponent. Teaching my students also helped because strategy is just as important as the physical."

Luke attributes his success to two major factors. The first was his renewed attitude. "You do need to believe you are going to win. I've heard lots of sports people say you've got to believe in yourself. If you don't, then you've already lost. There's a lot of truth in that."

The second was the support he had from his students and the importance of the win to the art of RKD. "My club was behind me all the way, their cheers on the night motivated me through every bout and seeing them do so well in competition gave me confidence. I really wanted to do well for my students. I also made a promise that I would win, and that promise was on my mind throughout the day and night.