Barry teaches in Dover, Canterbury and Ramsgate. From september he will be teaching adult education classes in Canterbury and Ashford. Born in Windsor on August 9th 1970: Barry moved to Kent in 1980, he left school in 1987 and studied a City & Guilds in Engineering. He then worked as an Engineer until 1998.
Barry started his Martial arts training in 1993 studying Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Kickboxing and attended various National competitions, winning many. In 1999 he decided to concentrate on competitive Tai Chi; as he had a natural talent and ability and his passion for this lead to him leaving his job to become a self employed martial arts coach.
In the next three years he won silver and bronze medals and also won the hand forms, push hands and sword categories at the B.C.C.M.A (British Council for Chinese martial Arts) national championships in 2003. Since then he has kept the title more or less every year he has entered.
In 2010 he was asked by his teacher; former world medallist Simon Watson to be a member of the British Team. In 2011-2012 Barry won 5 silvers at the European open, 3 gold's and a silver at the B.C.C.M.A British Championships, 2 gold's and 3 silvers at the British Open championships, Gold and bronze medal at the European championships and finished the year winning best athlete and every gold at the Dutch open.
Barry has studied the four most popular family styles of Tai Chi - Yang, Chen, Wu, Sun and various weapons, push hands, Chi gong and Dao Yin; which is a series of Chi Gong exercises specifically for different parts of the body. There are sets for the heart, lungs, kidneys as well as routines for general well being.
• How Did Your Life Begin?
After moving around a lot as a child, we settled in Margate, from there I left school and trained to be an engineer. I discovered martial arts in my early twenties.
•What Motivated You To Study Martial Arts ?
I sensed something was missing, but I didn't know what it was. I was doing things in life, but didn't have a path or a direction and I didn't know where I was going, but I didn't want to stand still and live a standard life. It wasn't enough for me. I knew there was something more out there.
•Why Kung Fu?
• Why Tai Chi?
Not knowing what tai chi was, I joined in on a class. I Found that I could pick it up quite quickly and soon found that I was overtaking people that had done it a lot longer. I was told that I had a natural ability with Tai chi.
•What Kept You Going During The Times Of Struggle And Loss?
Partly due to: enjoyment, gritty determination and belief in myself. When you look at things you can't do; if you face them, they get closer. You just do it. A black belt is just a white belt that has never given up. Sometimes being told no is a big motivation , if someone says to you can't do it, sometimes it motivates you to do it.
• At The Beginning Of Your Career, Who Were The Most Supportive People Around You At The Time?
Some people were supportive and some who I thought were friends were quite blunt and would put me down, you will never get a black belt or you will never get into the splits, etc. surprising really, but I was positive about things and ignored their comments.
• Tell Us About How You Feel Before A Competition?
Having doubt, but no doubt, as the feeling of doubt is present, but you're not always too sure who else is there and if they have trained harder. When I get to the competition I have no doubt that I'm going to come away with a medal. Usually I train more hours and in the correct manner. And I have trained harder and in the best way; with the best teachers. 100 percent commitment.
• How Do You Feel After A Competition?
Feeling that I have reached to a standard, but I don't feel that this is the end and that I have made it. Straight away I feel good, but nothing else. I am not saying it means nothing, to another it might mean a vast amount, but to me it's just something I do.
• Where Does Your Drive And Passion Come From?
My mind is creative, but it is only recently that I have understood that it is, from doing certain things that are creative, carving, photography, music, salsa, dancing and of course martial arts. My drive comes from my youth, as a child I didn't value myself and maybe in some ways I have just recently been coming to terms' with that as well. The older I get the more I understand myself and other people. By understanding yourself, you have more of an understanding of how other people are, understanding what motivates me, I understand what motivates other people.
• Do You Believe In A Higher Power?
Not really, I like to believe in myself. The morals and philosophies I read generally have a religious base. However, I just think that the morals and philosophies are more important than a god like figure. And I try to mould that into my way of thinking and my way of running my life. I think the higher power is within everybody; I think everyone can be a god.
• Where Does Your Inspiration Come From?
My inspiration comes from some of my teachers, Simon Watson my Tai Chi teacher as he has such a passion for the internal arts; Professor Li Deyin who seems to have more energy than most people half his age and is so open with his knowledge. Master Wang Yanji for his skill in push hands and the fighting side of Tai Chi and Xingyi. Ian Morrison who has been training all his life has got lots of experience from his time on the doors, in the army and also training different styles of martial arts, real mixed martial arts.
It also comes from people facing adversity and them rising above it, going against the odds, being that one in a million or standing out of the crowd against all other opinions and standing up for what you believe in even if it brings your downfall.
• What Do You Think Is The Most Important Elements To Being Successful?
Determination and commitment: the determination to not give up and the commitment to practice. And also the discipline to know when not to practice. Eating and training in the correct ways and the correct amounts. Understanding that most of your practice you will do alone.
• What Are Your Future Plans?
None, I just live for the present but have to plan to achieve things. I would like to enter a world championship and then train my guys to do that also.
Interview By Oliver J R Cooper
The overall impression I get from Barry is that he is an open and genuine individual. Although he has many years of experience and has won many competitions; this does not show. He is neither arrogant nor aloof in regards to his achievements. I would also describe him as being humble and grounded and that there is an air of innocence about him.
Views From Barry Phelan
Olivers interview style was stimulating and thought provoking, I didnt feeI rushed to answer any of his questions and I liked his laid back, considerate and friendly approach. I would be more than happy to be interviewed again WHEN I become World Champion.
My name is Oliver J R Cooper and I have been on a journey of self awareness for over nine years and for many years prior to that I had a natural curiosity.
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