News on Sunday

Gérald and Gilbert Koon : twin brothers master the art of the Ninja

Inseparable since their birth, they share a strong bond. Gérald and Gilbert Koon, identical twin brothers, have grown up sharing and doing everything together. Their passion for martial art has led them to learn and acquire the unique art of the Ninja, ‘Ninjutsu’. The twins have launched their own Martial Art School since last year where they offer Ninjutsu courses. 

Gerald et GilbertGérald and Gilbert Koon, both aged 37, share a special bond. “We shared the same hobbies and same circle of friends, we would do everything together. Growing up, we got into a lot of mischiefs, but we always stuck up for each other. We also went to the same primary and secondary schools opting for the same areas of study in Science field,” they stated. 

Today, Gérald and Gilbert have different professional career paths, Gérald holds the position of Engineer & Head of Project in the security sector and Gilbert works as IT Solutions Architect in the banking sector, but they share the same passion for a unique martial art. “During our childhood, action movies were very popular and we were both number one fans of martial actors such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Dam. Every day, we would rush home after school to watch action movies, cartoons like the Ninja Turtles and manga such as Dragon Ball. We would try to imitate them, using a mop, a broom or a frying pan as weapons.”

After seeing their growing passion for martial arts, their elder brother decided to initiate them to martial arts. “Our elder brother enrolled us in a martial art school at the age of 13. We started our first martial art lesson called Ninjutsu, which is the art of the Ninja. Martial arts soon became a part of us and we would for no reasons skip a training session,” they uttered. 

As they grew up, they both got better at mastering the art of Ninjutsu. “Our training sessions helped us to better focus and understand the essence of martial art, which means more than just self-defense, fighting and a sport. Martial art is about life and finding the meaning of your own being and expressing same. It is a process and along the way you grow, discover and develop. We have since then continued to train on a regular basis for the last 24 years.”

Mastering Ninjutsu

Throughout these 24 years, the twins became more fascinated with the art of the Ninja. “What is interesting about the Ninjutsu is that it is a comprehensive martial art where you learn how to deal and defend yourself using various techniques that are present in other martial arts, such as karate, judo, aikido, to name a few. In this martial art, you learn skills such as how to defend against free hands attack, different weapons, grabbling and so on. We have reached up to the level of ‘1st dan’ in Ninjutsu but during our journey, we have also been in touch with other martial arts such as Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, Kung Fu and Kickboxing.”

Gérald and Gilbert even had the opportunity to train with teachers from China as well as masters from Japan. “We trained with diverse teachers coming from China at the Chinese Cultural Centre (CCC) where we learned numerous styles and workouts. Through our regular participations in the China Town Food Festival events, we also had the opportunity to meet with various other artists such as Shaolin group with whom we exchanged our experiences. We have also attended special training sessions in Japan with the Grandmaster of the Ninjutsu Federation who is the head of this discipline. There, we learned different techniques, amongst which secret techniques on how to use weak points of the human body to instantly overpower your opponent and received spiritual teachings,” they revealed.

They trust that martial art does not only help them to develop physical strength and lead a healthy lifestyle but also mental strength through perseverance and meditation. “You learn how to control yourself in stressing conditions, remain calm during pressure time and stay focus on your objectives. It provides you with how to structure your life with discipline. The philosophy of the Ninjutsu embraces the concept of a perseverant mind, body and consciousness and with the power of patience and hard training, a person shall acquire a peaceful heart. This is something which has been highly beneficial both personally and professionally for us.”

Twins

Sacrifices and challenges

The Ninja brothers were so passionate about Ninjutsu that they would train and practice even at home. “As teens we were training only once per week every Saturday and the session was for 2 hours. We would also regularly train at home together. Our training sessions did not affect our studies but was rather helpful by providing us a well-being conditioning for better learning. In fact, training helps remove all tension and stress that you may have on a day-to-day basis and help you better control your emotions and state of mind.”

Even when they started working, they would train more intensively, up to 5 times a week. We always made sure to reach training on time to have sufficient time to warm up properly before starting our relentless training. Our main sacrifice was mainly that we, as kids, teens and adolescents, would not have the time to go out or spend time with our friends. Training was the priority over other activities in our life,” they underlined. 

What was the biggest challenge that both had to face while learning Ninjutsu? “At the time we started our MBA degree, over a period of 2.5 years. We had to cope with work, training and studying at the same time. We kept the same frequency of training 5 times per week and we had limited time to study, work on assignments and prepare for exams. We supported each other and even went to bed late every day to cope with the pressure. Sometimes, we were frustrated but through perseverance, we successfully managed to make it,” stated the twins. 

Twins

Launching their Martial Art School

Gérald and Gilbert, who have become martial art instructors, have together made one of their biggest dreams come true by opening their own ‘Dojo’, that is their Martial Art School. “Since a young age, we have dreamed about becoming Dojo-Cho (martial art instructor). Some 10 years back, we had the opportunity to start teaching the Ninjutsu to friends and acquaintances but did not have any permanent location and it was depending on our timetable. Having now gained experience and knowledge in martial art and with the requests of several friends training with us, we naturally deemed it time to achieve our dreams to become professional tutors.”

They highlighted that they are more than keen to share their experiences and teach others the art of the Ninja. “Most people see martial art as a self-defense art but our teachings go beyond that and differ from the conventional teachings. Our concept is to teach people how to adopt and adapt the principles of martial art in their daily routine. Since martial art training includes both the physical and intellectual aspects, it clearly brings better health, challenges your limits and mental to push you further as well as channeling your energy through meditation in order to attain a better version of yourself. This is what we want to share with our students,” they said. 

The brothers, however, trust that Ninjutsu is unfortunately not well-known in Mauritius. “Although the Ninjutsu is a well-known martial art in Japan and is being taught in various countries around the globe, Mauritius lags unfortunately far behind. We are convinced that many persons are looking for such training and would be interested in knowing more about this martial art and its teachings.” 

They are currently teaching Ninjutsu at the Sports Club gym located at Vandermesch in Rose Hill and also teaching self-defense courses at the Hua Lien club, Trianon. “Our training classes not only cover martial arts but also include an hour of intensive body workout. We encourage our students to always challenge themselves to get better and fitter, as we believe that a good physique is key to a successful martial practitioner. In a nutshell, our training courses train your body and your mind.”

The twins officially launched their Martial Art School in August last year. “We are registered and affiliated with the Genbukan World Ninpo Bugei Federation and Kokusai Jujutsu Renmei Federation situated in Japan, the headquarters of the Ninjutsu martial art teachings. The Ninjutsu course is vast and consists of various classes, syllabus and levels. Moreover, as our students are registered as a member of the Genbukan Federation, they are given a student license that gives them the possibility to further pursue their training in any other affiliated schools in another country as from the levels they have reached. There are a number of grades that students may aspire to. Students are tested after a set number of classes and a certificate (from Japan) is obtained upon successful completion of each grade.” The Ninjustu course is open as from the age of 10 and above. Any person can subscribe anytime of the year. 

Achievement and advice

The Ninja brothers both shared that they have achieved much in life thanks to their perseverance in learning and acquiring Ninjutsu. “My biggest achievement is to have managed to cope with my professional, academic and personal life as well as my training through constant perseverance and nevertheless achieved successful results in all areas. You need to be consistent in everything you do in life and be honest to yourself,” said Gérald.

Gilbert, on his side, declared that sharing what he knows is the most rewarding. “On top of coping with regular and intensive training and other day-to-day activities, what is more rewarding and encouraging is to be able to share my experience with others and get very positive responses from them. Our students appreciate the patience and efforts both Gerald and I invest in guiding and teaching them martial art and the philosophy of the Ninjutsu.”

They advise Mauritian youth to always believe in themselves, never back down and strive in order to succeed. “My advice and message are to invest in yourself, be the best version of yourself, learn new skills instead of seeking insecure experience in drugs and other similar activities,” uttered Gérald.

“My advice to young Mauritians is to follow their dreams. Don’t be afraid of failure and consider it as a positive experience instead, as it helps you to learn from your mistakes and grow stronger and wiser. The strength of your mind determines the quality of your life. Have faith in yourself whatever the stance you are in and through perseverance and commitment, you will achieve your dreams and even more,” said Gilbert. 

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