Three-time senior international gold medalist and Martial Arts Success Canadian Correspondent Perry Kelly is a can-ryu jiu-jitsu 5th-dan. He’s also a certified instructor in karate, muay thai, Inosanto kali and Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do and jun fan gung-fu. Kelly is also a fully trained Correctional SWAT operator and a graduate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre’s Defensive Tactics Instructor-Trainer program.
At the 50th Battle of Atlanta in June 2018, he took silver in the Over 60+ sparring division and received the Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior Award from Joe Corley, Jeff Smith and Bill Wallace.
Perry Kelly: I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, which is the capital of Canada. Canada’s the only country where the national sport allows fighting without being ejected. They simply give you five minutes to catch your breath before you can “drop the gloves” again.
Herb Borkland: What did your dad do?
PK: My dad was a safety engineer who was one of the students at Ottawa’s first karate school, Langelier Karate Dojo, in the early 1960s. He also introduced me to can-ryu jiu-jitsu. In addition, he was a partner in TSS Promotions, a group that promoted the fights of World Kickboxing Champion Jean-Yves “The Iceman” Theriault and heavyweight Conroy Nelson, who eventually went on to box Mike Tyson.
HB: How did you first hear about martial arts?
PK: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t hear about them. From the time I was a toddler, my father and my uncle, Dean Hagopian, a local DJ who lived with us, were always in their gis practicing techniques, or, irritating my mom by pounding their fists against our fireplace to toughen their hands. As a kid, I started classes in chito-ryu karate and then, later, as a teenager, in can-ryu jiu-jitsu.
HB: Turning point?
PK: I guess you could say there was a point where martial arts did indeed turn into my life mission. Approximately five or six years ago, I suffered a deep depression caused by PTSD associated with childhood abuse and from years of working in the Canadian Criminal Justice system. I was literally on the brink of suicide when I decided, “I had better get busy living” for the sake of my loved ones.
Since 2016, I have used my martial arts writing and competing as a form of therapy. I get positive feedback from the people I write about and from our readers, which is great. I have also been lucky enough to win seven medals — four of them gold — in international karate competitions, including becoming the 2017 World Police and Fire Games Karate Champion.
HB: What does the future hold?
PK: Well, now that I am over 60, I won’t have to give up to 25 years in age in rematches to some of the people I bested in the Over-35 division, who still want revenge for getting beaten by an “old guy.” I plan to keep honing my writing craft under the guidance of my mentor, John Corcoran, and keep competing as the “baby” of the Over-60 age division. Also, to give back by passing my knowledge to some of the new generation of muay thai, karate and MMA fighters I work with. And finally, to keep sparring, too!
One more thing. If readers, peers or anyone they know is suffering with problems associated with mental illness, please reach out to the resource people available in your area. It takes the strongest part of any fighter to put his or her ego aside and ask for help when it’s needed
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