Slade Norris has been heavily involved in the martial arts for most of his lifetime. At primary school age he began 3 years of Wado Kai Karate. After that, he had his only extended break from the martial arts before starting Kickboxing in 1991. From there he gained 7 years experience under three different instructors, including a champion fighter. It was during these years that he learnt to appreciate the realism of full contact sparring, where the opponent is really trying to strike their target. Gaining his Black Singlet (instructional level) during this time, he also saw the benefit of teaching others to improve the understanding of both student and teacher.
While still kickboxing in 1996, Slade discovered the art of Kenpo at the only school in Western Australia.
Kenpo introduced him to the practical science of motion. It sparked the idea of looking deeper into the logic and reasoning of each offensive and defensive movement.
Every action had a purpose. The limitations of wearing 10 ounce boxing gloves also became apparent.
In Kickboxing, only the main knuckles of the fist were used to strike, whereas Kenpo - Way of the Fist allows the hand to form into a variety of natural weapons for striking or manipulating any available target.
Also, while training to fight within the rules of kickboxing, he saw gaps in his defence. For example, Kickboxing does not allow kicks to the groin, so it is not important to learn how to cover this area. However, Kenpo self-defence techniques are designed for a no-rules environment (ie. not the rules of a combat sport) and views strikes to the groin, and other "illegal" targets, as very effective.
Encouraged by Sam Purcell to keep an open mind and look at other martial arts in order to develop his understanding of Kenpo concepts (which can be applied to any motion), Slade's cross training includes Mixed Martial Arts, Stick & Knife Fighting, Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee's art), Tai Chi (used as an internal art for focus, awareness and breathing control), Krav Maga and Will-Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (submission wrestling), as well as several others.
Slade uses Mixed Martial Arts as a challenging combat sport and Kenpo as an art of street survival. Both arts have many additional benefits. He also trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to develop his ground fighting skills, which many martial artists (unfortunately) still do not think they need.
In 1999 Slade achieved his Kenpo Karate Black Belt (the second person to do so in Western Australia) and has assisted in teaching students while continuing his own training ever since. He views his Kenpo Black Belt as a significant milestone in his martial arts journey and has since focussed on improving his skills, training and teaching methods instead of further belt promotions.
Each year he attends a number of martial arts seminars with topics ranging from weapons fighting to pressure point strikes in order to expand his knowledge. At least annually, he travels to other states of Australia to learn from other instructors across the country as well as to run seminars of his own.
See the Seminars/Events section of the News and update page for details of the most recent interaction with some of the top martial artists from around the world.