Updated: Oct 31
Up- Close and Personal Interview with Multiple British Martial Arts Hall of Fame Awardee, Andrew "Chi" Osbourne
Interview Conducted By Christopher Evans
The name Andrew "Chi"Osbourne may not be a familiar name in the world of martial arts outside of Great Britain , but when those who ARE big names need help , advice and inspiration in all things martial arts related , Andrew is at the top of their go to list, a fact that still bewilders the humble martial artist, " You know.. I'm just ME..just a down to earth normal guy.. It's not as though I'm Muhammad Ali going around saying I'm the greatest of all time.. It amazes me that people who I've never met before in my life from all over the world, know who I AM and are fans of the martial arts style I've crafted and take comfort and inspiration from what I do..’
"..The most surreal moment was in 2016, when I was inducted into British Martial Arts Hall of Fame .. I was standing next to Richard Bustillo , who was one of Bruce Lee's senior students , waiting to be presented the award .. he looks at me and said .. I know you .. you're Andrew "Chi" Osbourne, your Tai Chi forms are phenomenal, a really touching style you have ..".. My jaw just dropped, Bruce Lee is my all time idols , he still is, and to have that come from one of his senior students just blew my mind, I almost went into shock... I just didn't know what to say to him!
Andrew, who counts Bill Superfoot Wallace , Benny The Jet Urquidez, Art Camacho and British actor Mark Strange as personal friends , still lives in the same area of Wolverhampton in the British Midlands, famous for its Steele manufacturing factories, that he was born in and grew up in . " I was born in the 1960's in to a mixed race family, my father was a musician from Jamaica and my mother was white from the u.k. , and I was one of ten brothers and sisters ..which may seem unusual now, but at the time you thought nothing of it ..you just had to que up to use the bathroom and get on with it.. the life we had wasn't too bad.. we cared and looked out for eachother." Andrew was inspired by the kung Fu craze that was sweeping Britain in the 1970,s to take up martial arts.
"Going back to Bruce Lee again, it was seeing a clip of him in Enter The Dragon in 1975 on a children's tv program that inspired me to get into martial arts, at the time , that clip caused controversy, as it an was an x rated movie for 18 years and over shown in the afternoon on a children's tv program.. but Bruce Lee, man, he changed my life..there was something about the martial arts ..It was like a calling to me , something inside me said "this is what you have to do .. now go and do it !..."
Andrew spent his formative years studying Wada Ryu Karate with Sensei Joshua Johnson (M.B.E) the first black martial arts instructors in the u k. He then studied , Hung Gar, and laterly Mian Quan Pai. " Those were tough years , but very educational.. alot of things we did and the conditions we practiced in , you couldn't get away with today.. But at the time , that's all we had , you just did it and grew from the experience, gained an understanding and respect for other people and other martial artists . The hard work did pay off , and alot of the grounding I had was forged during those early years". It was not until the late 1980's and into the early 1990's when Andrew started to develop his own form for tai chi kuen , earning The ‘Chi’ moniker in his name.
"Back then a lot of the martial arts magazine writers were based in the midlands where I live , and they would come to me lotoking for the next trend and write articles on what I was doing for their magazines. At the time people thought that Tai chi was just for the elderly, but it is a foundation for every martial art . I gravitated towards Tai chi as it was all about healing yourself, rather than hurting and doing damage to others... but at the same time it can be used as an efficient fighting style when sped up and used in defense". There wasn`t anyone teaching tai chi kuen to the level that I was looking to achieve at the time , there was no internet back then, so I learned everything I could from books , from my peers in the martial arts industry in the uk.and just asorbed as much information as I could travelling around .. Once again referencing the little dragon.. Bruce Lee ..his old adage , take what is useful and reject what is useless. That what I did with my taichi kuen style, it references the hard and soft styles development by from the Shaolin temple, and all the different family lineages thereafter, it is a bit of mixture of many styles.. kind of like chop suey to use cooking analogy... abit of this from here.. a bit this from there, to create the perfect dish ..".
Andrew's unique style is more akin to free form dance then any strict form or kata. "My style... you can call it the extension of my soul. It does change depending on how I'm feeling and what mood I'm in.When I do my forms on stage for a demonstration or during my daily practices it does feel like the whole universe is watching and that I draw in that power from this unseen source and .. slowly let it go ..then .. boom.. you can feel the energy flowing .It is an emotional release ,even for those watching.
You can feel the power..the chi power.. people just start crying or feel a happy feeling when I do my thing..it's almost spiritual".
In 2011 Andrew had to put his martial arts skills to the test when he suffered a racially motivated attack at his workplace by a person who suffered from severe mental health issues .
"The person had a vendetta against my family for being mixed race...He knew where everyone lived and had a hit list if which order he was going to do things in.."
Andrew's quick thinking and martial arts skills , not only prevented the attacker from causing any serious injury to Andrew's colleagues, but also saved the life of his family. Andrew was awarded a bravery award for his actions by the metropolitan police.
Andrew chronicled his attack and its`s aftermath in his best selling Autobiography ‘ Out Of The Darkness` co-written with celebrated author David Major. The attack had long lasting repercussions and as a result Suffering from PTSD and Andrew forced him to stop practicing the martial arts he loved." It crushed me for long time ..I just couldn't find the focus to do anything martial arts related. I was thinking about things you shouldn't... thinking about life.. dying and the meaning of it all.. It was until I used martial arts as a tool to heal myself, that I found I could break through the depression and get the help I needed. I'm still finding my way back .. but I'm getting there thanks to the support from my family ,friends. and mental health care professionals.
I am an advocate for PTSD survivors and mental health health in general. I would encourage people to talk to someone, it doesn't have to be someone they know ..there are a lot of charities out there .. lots of lovely people ,who are trained help.No- one should carry such a heavy burden alone..no matter what their circumstances are .. there is someone who can help.., PTSD , no matter what the cause, is not a shameful thing .. it's just the way the body reacts to a stressful situation, there is help for everyone out there to deal with it".
In subsequent years , Andrew has been inducted into the British Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and also acknowledged in the recent volume of The worlds greatest Martial artists of all time almanac.Not bad for someone who is an independent martial arts practitioner and doesn't teach in a school or dojo.
"The ying yang symbol means a lot to me, and kind of epitomizes my style and my philosophy of life in a nutshell.. I've had some great times and also have been through some really dark tough times ..in recent years I've suffered from PTSD , been placed in sheltered accomodation, been made unemployed ..but with help and support from my family, friends and my martial arts family throughout the world I'm starting to get back on top of things ". ‘I`ve released a clothing line, with t-shirts that have positive slogans which are selling quite well. I`m currently working on my second autobiography, which I hope to release by the end of the year. It will cover all that has happened in my life since the last book, and also a few new revelations from my past, and also my thoughts on martial arts." Ultimately, I'm just me doing what I love to do .. practicing martial arts and helping people stay positive .
My advice to everyone out there going through tough times, is to do what you love to do as a tool to help heal youself...no matter what what happens in life.. as they say ..be yourself, as everyone else's has already been taken" . ☯ Andrew`s Book ‘Out Of The Darkness’ Co -Written With David Major is available to buy from Amazon.com