by EMMANUEL MANOLAKAKIS
I’ll start with a little background about myself. I’m born and raised in toronto Canada. My heritage is Greek, my father being from the island of Crete, and my mother being from the middle of Greece, or what’s known as Sparta. As you well know from movies like 300, Spartans have a heralded history of warriors and fighters, heroism, and all kinds of things. It’s actually the same, where my dad is from, from the island of Crete. they were reknown in World War II as amazing fighters, and there was a wonderful recorded history of the Battle of Crete in WWII. You could say fighting, or martial arts, or those kinds of things are in my blood.
My martial art experience started in 1985-86, when I took Karate. I took those for many years, a couple of different types of Karate, including the harder (okinawan) styles of Karate. While I was going through high school, I did olympic Freestyle wrestling, and going through university and partly through high school, I played rugby and boxed quite a bit. So I had those three elements in my past and I enjoyed them all.
I enjoyed the olympic Freestyle wrestling immensely, as well as the boxing, just because of, you know, there was a lot more contact and it felt like you really were put up against somebody and got that good spirit. With Karate, it felt a little different because there wasn’t enough contact and I failed to see it’s application, to be honest with you. Not to bash Karate, but that was my experience. the school I attended at the time, unfortunately, didn’t fulfill the need I wanted but when I wrestled and I boxed I felt amazing. So these things were huge influences on me, early on, and actually they still are. I totally enjoy wrestling, as well as boxing, even to this day.
As I progressed on, I finished high school, attended York University in toronto, where I subsequently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. It was a great University, I played rugby while I was there, and it was a phenomenal experience. I mean, I wish I could put rugby down as a form of self defense training. to be honest with you, it was! I learned just as much in that sport as I did in any other sport in terms of self defense, just because there’s 15 guys on one side of the field, there’s 15 guys on the other side of the field, and when the game was played there was a lot of times where you had to protect yourself! It was a lot of fun and I did learn a lot by playing that sport, at the varsity level for sure.