JEREMY DE SILVA
My name’s Jeremy de Silva, but everyone calls me Jezz. I’m 47 and live in a little patch of paradise in the hills outside Melbourne, Australia with my wife and a zoo overflowing with geriatric animals. I’m a jack of all trades but a master of none and have worked as an engineer and project manager for the likes of General Motors & British Aerospace. Most recently I tried my hand at landscaping gardening. In between, I’ve been a professional self defense instructor, bouncer, and test driver. For the last six years I’ve also been a professional romance writer … yes, you read that correctly. Don’t believe me, Goggle ‘Jezz de Silva’ … and no, that’s not me on the cover ; )
My journey into personal protection started 22 years ago with karate in a local community center. I grew up in a safe, middle-class suburb in Melbourne and didn’t get into many fights, yet I was very insecure due to my weight. I started martial arts to become a fearless badass and trained as often and as hard as I could. My search for the ‘touch of death’ lead me to many different teachers and martial arts. During these initial stages I acquired instructor titles in karate, kickboxing, and various Filipino Martial Arts. I also fought in the ring (very, very badly).
Through a twist of fate, that I consider one of the luckiest in my life, I met Jim Armstrong at an eskrima club we were both training at. At the time, he was the toughest, most skilled, and scariest martial artist/fighter I’d ever met. He scared me, because when he trained, he trained HARD. So obviously when our escrima club closed and Jim invited me to train in his glamorous one car, concrete floored, corrugated iron garage I jumped at the chance. That was 16 years ago. I would not be the man, husband, son, human being I am today if not for Jim, the girls and guys I trained with, and that tiny damned garage … so they’re to blame : )
Primarily, we were a group of friends who got together to figure out what worked and didn’t work in the street. Most of us had trained in traditional martial arts but were focused on learning how to protect ourselves and the people we cared about in real world confrontations. To say our traditional training left us unprepared physically, mentally, and emotionally for what we discovered is an understatement. We had spent years learning how to swim without ever actually getting in the water. Over the next ten years we got in the water, hour after hour, day after day, year after year until we could swim in the ocean. But do you know the funny thing, after all that blood, sweat, and tears, and yes there were tears, mostly from laughing, learning to defend ourselves physically was the LEAST important thing we figured out.
We now use martial arts and combatives as a vehicle to help people feel better about themselves and more comfortable in their own skin. We prepare physically but concentrate on the mental and emotional aspects of personal protection to help people avoid dangerous situations in the first place. Living a fulfilling life and surrounding yourself with loving people is a hell of lot more important than learning how to fight. But the confidence gained through realistic training with people who care about you enough to provide honest feedback impacts your entire life.
It took us a while, but we are slowly getting there. The best way to live a happy, healthy, and safe life has nothing to do with how tough you are and everything to do with helping others and becoming a better version of yourself, whatever that is. We started off looking for all the potential dangers in the big bad world. We now try to enjoy all the amazing things the world has to offer while looking out for people who may need our help. Changing our mindset has not only made us even more aware of our surroundings, but helped us become better versions of ourselves, which is what it’s all about. Plus, life’s a heap more fun when you celebrate the good : )