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  • The Francombat Interview with Franco Richard

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    John Smith

    A brief look at our founder’s life and the passion for combat that fueled it.

    It all started with a dream, of course.

    It was 1996, a teenage Franco Richard had just suffered his first lost on the Lei Tai. Dejected, the young Richard hid in his parents’ Quebec home and vowed to remake himself. He would dress cooler, learn to bet on combat sports, worked himself into the best shape of his life, wrote volumes of notes on many different topics, and further developed and named his Art of Lei Tai™. In 2020, Franco went on to revolutionize the martial arts world by creating the first Professional Lei Tai Championship and, of course, founding Pro Lei Tai™. He would turn himself onto the type of master he saw in martial arts movies as a young boy: the unfightable, most popular kid on the block. The guy everyone wanted to be around. The lifestyle by design. Franco was gone forever; from now on, he would call himself Francombat, and his life never be the same.

    To this day, he is still the Francombat he invented in his childhood home all those years earlier: the combatant, the manager, the prognosticator, the promoter, the host, surrounded by friends for saturday fight nights or padding around his Penthouse in his casual attire and hosting outrageous parties for an ever-growing family of pals and associates.

    “Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream. I would like to be remembered as somebody who envisioned a different world, reshaped the world in that image and loved living in it until the end,” he once said. I want people to say, ‘He was smart; he had his own style. He can’t be compared to others. He set the tone and pace for his own destiny. I’m a kid who dreamed the dreams and made them come true.”

    All for the love of combat.

    We asked the fans to send in their questions for Franco Richard’s interview via Twitter. As you can see, we’re all about letting the fans have their say. You guys had questions for Francombat; here’s what he had to say.

    What does Francombat mean?

    It’s first started with a wordplay of my name Franco and the word combat, then became my Chinese disciple name gave it to me by my Chinese Kung Fu master in Taiwan. As the tradition goes in Chinese martial arts, master often give a disciple name to their student. Since I was the only caucasian training at the mansion, my Sifu keep calling me Francombat and the name stick around.

    Today, “Francombat” as a word and as a concept have entered the popular lexicon and have become a worldwide phenomenon. Through dynamic marketing and aggressive protection of its trademarks, the brand’s popularity has grown exponentially year after year. From a signature clothing line to fragrance to fight gear, Francombat is more than a martial arts brand, it’s a lifestyle. The brand has extraordinary success reaching the coveted 18-35 year old male and female markets because the brand resonates and continues to generate a real sense of Attitude and lifestyles. Francombat™ was the most searched name on Google and Yahoo several times (5 weeks in 2020, 1 weeks in 2019) and on numerous magazine covers. This is what was meant by the word “FRANCOMBAT” all along.

    Where is the Francombat headquartered?

    The headquarter of Francombat Management, called “World of Francombat”, is located in the Caribbean Nation of Antigua. Around 100 of the Group’s more than 250 employees work at our campus-like headquarters. Francombat is a truly global combat sports brand. Therefore, everything we do is rooted in combat sports. Everything that happens in combat sports happens in moments. Every moment is a chance for the athlete to start over and take today.

    When and why did you start martial arts training?

    I begun martial arts training when I was 7 years old, partly to be able to defend myself in an unarmed combat situation. From all the old time kung fu movies like Five Fingers of Death I really fell in love with Kung Fu. Whenever I saw martial artists performing in the movies or on the street, it made me very excited and increased my desire to learn it. I have been hooked ever since. As a child I had a difficult childhood attending pre-school with problems of concentration and discipline caused by ADHD. I was very naughty, I was a trouble maker; always skipping school and getting into street fights. I feel like everybody had story to tell about me. After my parents had been advised by a doctor to give me some pills of Ritalin, my parents soon grew tired of dragging me out of the director school office and finally agreed to enroll me into martial arts hoping to direct my excess energy and assertiveness in a positive manner. Training martial arts proved to be one of the best ways of reaching this goal. I came from humble beginnings, but I received a lot of love and support from my family. At first they didn’t want me to practice martial arts, but eventually they realized that it was something that I loved to do, and that I was actually pretty good at.

    You started training in martial arts very young. What led you to move to Taiwan for further study?

    I started practicing Kung Fu when I was seven years old. I studied for twelve years until I moved to Taiwan in 2000. Through reading I became interested in the so-called Internal martial arts. I had already practiced what was considered to be an External art for quite a period of time. Although I was young and had much to learn, I realized there was a limit to how strong and fast one could become, and that those attributes would decline with age. San Soo is a non-sportive, purely fighting oriented martial art.

    I was always looking for other methods of training and technique that would increase my martial ability. When I read about the Internal arts, I was intrigued by their philosophy and the idea of the soft overcoming the hard. The ideas made sense to me, although at the time I really couldn’t imagine how it all worked. As I looked around, I failed to find what I was looking for. Although I met a couple teachers who practiced the Internal arts along with their External Arts, and who were quite good, it still wasn’t what I was looking for. The Tai Ji Quan that I saw being practiced was useless for fighting, and the majority of the other Internal styles I saw were not being practiced as they were preached. That is not to say there were no competent instructors of the Internal around, I just didn’t find any. So, I decided to “go to the source” and look for teachers in China.

    Which style of martial arts did you learned?

    My first introduction to martial arts was in Karate at the elementary gymnast school of my village. I learned the fundamentals of the Japanese martial arts. I obtained my Black Belt in Karate as a teenager. I would say my formal martial arts training started in 2000 when I moved in Kaohsiung, Taiwan to study Kuoshu (Chinese term for martial art) under Sifu Zhu Shen Fa. It was in Kaohsiung, that I was inducted into the Zhu Style Kuoshu family and became an official 2nd generation lineage holder. I was instructed individually under Master Zhang Yu Fei.

    A great variety of Chinese martial arts styles are taught in Taiwan. What was your reason for concentrating on the internal styles?

    Although there were many fine martial artists of various styles in Taiwan, and I did study some of the External styles, I was determined to see if the stories I had read and heard about the practice of the Internal styles were true. Fortunately, I met and trained for years with teachers of exceptional ability, men whose skills exceeded all my expectations. To clarify, I wasn’t looking for (nor have I ever seen) anyone with “mysterious powers,” pushing people without physical contact, the “death touch” or other such nonsense. I was looking for practical martial ability of a higher order. Basically, I was looking for methods that were not based solely on brute strength, speed and superior size; I was looking for arts in which the soft could really overcome the hard.

    Who was your martial arts teacher?

    All of my teachers taught me different styles of martial arts, and they all had my fullest respect. Each of them was a true master in his own right. Some teachers are very famous and you may hear a lot about them, while others whose names go unnoticed are as great, and in some cases greater than those who have such notoriety. I could say much the same thing about all my teachers. None were the same and each was great in his own special way. Each one impressed me in different ways. I would not be the man I am today if it weren’t for each of my Shifu. Each created a different part of my martial arts makeup.

    However, there’s on particular master I have to give the most credit for my kung fu skill. I would like to pay my most sincere and deep respect to my beloved master, Sifu Zhu Shen Fa, in gratitude for his guidance and detailed verbal transmission of the methods, principles, and applications of the highest level Kung Fu, to be taught to me, impartiality, and friendship over many years. He was kind enough to teach me the greatest family’s Kuoshu martial art. He also inspired me to try to be different from the others and his episodes got me to where I am today.

    What was like studying with your Shifu, which you called affectuously The Master, in Taiwan.

    My master was very traditional in his teaching, meaning very strict. In those days we had a great deal of respect for my Shifu and was too afraid to ask any questions. I can remember the only time that we were allowed to talk during training was while we would hang our foot in a tree stretching. The Master was very confident in himself; most people would assume this was because his external martial art is very famous. After I studied from him for a while, he trained me in Chi Kung. In time, I learned step by step how to use the internal martial arts for Lei Tai fighting. After this I realized that no matter how famous my teacher’s external martial art was, I found his internal arts even more amazing. However, the most important lessons were not these “hand-to-hand teaching” but the tea-chats later on. We had afternoon tea-chats for years until he was seriously ill. I found out, during the afternoon tea-chats, I learnt much more from him than from anybody else.

    Can you provide us with a brief history and a description of the characteristics of what your learn in Taiwan with your Master. Can you talk to our readers about the curriculum?

    The training consisted of all fighting, which are known in Chinese as Ti (踢) Kicking; Da (打) Striking; Shuai (摔) Grappling and Throwing; Na (拿) Seizing and Controlling. He also taught me a Shuai jiao and Chin Na style form. The Master not only taught me the form, but personally demonstrated the grappling submission and hard falling techniques. You don’t expect to see a double takedown from a 73 year old. Everyone was amazed by his performance, including me. I have traveled China, Taiwan, and around most of the world, but I have never seen anyone perform like him. I also had the valuable opportunity to study the Old Frame of the Chen style Tai Ji Quan, Xing Yi Quan (He Bei style) and Ba Gua Zhang.

    It was from this fighting experience that he developed the Snake flowing hand, which gives practitioners the ability to better judge their opponent. Art of Lei Tai™ also emphasizes moving to the side and short angle (called Mi Zong Bu), meaning Lost Step). Together, these two concepts have proven itself very effective in Kuoshu-style Lei Tai fighting since 2010.

    So, your Master didn’t have a formalized method of teaching techniques?

    There was no fixed curriculum or teaching method, as I said before, he taught you according to your ability. My Master taught differently to different people according to their level, how they commit, and how they learn.

    As a westerner, what kind of difficulties did you face in trying to study Chinese martial arts and adapt to what must have been a very different cultural lifestyle?

    I didn’t know anyone in Taiwan when I went, and I couldn’t yet speak Chinese. I applied to the Chinese language program at the Taiwan Normal University where I would study for five years. I had a letter of introduction to one teacher and immediately began to look around and make connections in the martial arts community. I made friends with other martial artists and went to see every teacher I could. The situation in Taiwan and Mainland China is the same as anywhere else, for every outstanding teacher there are legions of mediocre ones. I had a very specific agenda for study. Although I didn’t understand the Internal martial arts at the time, I did understand fighting, and I was looking for practicality. In retrospect, I was very fortunate in meeting and being accepted by several outstanding teachers. Over the years, I had several false starts with teachers who took my money but held back instruction, but all in all, the vast majority of teachers I met and trained with were open and generous in their instruction. As far as adapting to the culture, I found it a little difficult at first, but I loved Asia from the start and soon felt quite at home; so much so that I stayed in Taiwan and studied for ten years.

    What the strong point of Kung Fu is?

    Kung Fu is based on circular motion and movement. Rather than meet an opposing force head on matching force with force sometimes we redirect the energy. I would say the technical aspect of attacking while withdrawing. So if someone is attacking you, you can attack while backing up. The Master always said that if you can learn retreat and attack simoustanousely this is more difficult, more technical, but more efficient against any opponent that rush you. So, retreat and attack.

    Now the reason kung fu is thought of as a circle being no beginning and no end, that means in a student/teacher point of view that you’re always learning you’ve never learned it all. In kung fu, there are no rankings, they don’t have belt colours because they don’t believe there’s a specific goal to get to you’re always going for something later. They’re always learning. So the no beginning and no end means that you’re always searching, you’re always striving to get that next level up and once you get to that level you always strive for the next one and the next one and you never ever quit. In fact, the most important thing in Kuoshu is the fight concepts; it does not matter how many movements or how many forms you have learnt! Anyone can create kungfu forms and teach these forms to his students for commercial’s sake.

    You have created your own combat form called “Art of Lei Tai™” But, what is Art of Lei Tai and How did you came up with such a complete art?

    Not exactly. Art of Lei Tai is not a new style of martial arts but rather my personal interpretation and expression of Kung Fu. Art of Lei Tai is my notebook that I took while training Kuoshu in Taiwan. It’s about putting the four Kung Fu skills known as Ti (踢) Kicking; Da (打) Striking; Shuai (摔) Grappling and Throwing; Na (拿) Seizing and Controlling on the Lei Tai all together.

    What are the fighting concepts that are focalized on in the Art of Lei Tai?

    With the whole set of Art of Lei Tai fighting concept, a person can easily understand what is the difference between fancy movements for demonstrations only and a real martial artist who can apply the best techniques in real fighting. Unfortunately, the most difficult thing is that: without learning up to a certain level, without full explanation from the instructor and the considerate study and deep-going analysis, a practitioner normally can not really understand the truth behind the techniques.

    What are the Difference Between MMA and Lei Tai?

    Perhaps the biggest difference in the two, MMA and Lei Tai Fighting, is the difference in how they view combat. The mixed martial arts training is focused daily in anticipation of pitting his skills again another well trainer fighter. It seems that MMA just focuses on the wrong things about martial arts training. I feel that the overall feeling of martial arts has become so shallow. We are accustomed to the ideas of wanting to overcome adversity, to push ourselves to become better than others, or to conquering and intimidating others through violence. It is unfortunate that combat sports like MMA encourage and support the ideas of violence or belittling others for the sake of entertainment. Kung Fu stresses these values much more than MMA. I truly believe that not all MMA fighters are only interested in violence and glory. Conversely, not all traditional practitioners are always training for righteous reasons. It is the mind of a person that makes the difference; the art being trained is irrelevant. I believe there are some MMA practitioners who will spend their time patiently to truly comprehend the arts and experience its deep feeling.

    Kung Fu is a traditional art, and it has persisted over hundreds of years and generations because of the values it promotes. It takes time, patience, endurance, perseverance, and high morality. Today, It is much more difficult to find people who can appreciate Kung Fu for what it really embodies as a whole. I believe the mentality of wanting to learn martial arts only to fight is still more popular than learning martial arts for self-cultivation. MMA is more popular in this respect because they enter into sparring training much earlier. Externally, the results in MMA are more easily visible and can be trained relatively quickly. Even when I began martial arts when I was 7, I had only wanted to learn how to fight. After a certain stage in MMA, I believe that winning matches and titles becomes the only goal. To me, succeeding in competitions like those in MMA can be steps in the process of your training, but it definitely should never be the goal. These students are only searching to become better than others and getting fast results. Earlier I referred to this as the “McDonald’s” culture, getting things quickly, easily, and just to the point of satisfaction. MMA is well-suited for those who are looking for fashion and quick results.

    The good side of MMA is that the body conditioning program is very rigorous and can quickly form a strong foundation for deeper training. Many traditional schools often do not stress enough body conditioning in the beginning, as they are not learning how to fight in just a few months time. In MMA, the highly competitive environment also motivates students to constantly push themselves harder. This helps students make themselves better by always pushing their limits and always striving for improvement. It is only when MMA becomes more focused on winning and bettering others that I dislike it.

    Unfortunately, I believe this is why many fighting schools often criticize Kung Fu. There are no immediate results, like winning fights. Traditional schools often train their students first in fundamentals: basic stances, basic hand forms, basic body mechanics, basic coordination, and very importantly, martial morality and the mind. They are much more demanding in terms of requiring concentration and discipline of the mind. This preliminary training alone can take years. Many beginning students give up or lose patience in traditional training because of this, especially the ones that only want to fight.

    The results of Kung Fu training take much longer to see, oftentimes taking 1-2 years minimum to get a feel for the art, 5-10 years to discover it, 10-20 years to explore it, 20-40 years to develop it, and a lifetime to perfect it. Only after the mind has been developed can the techniques be properly learned. Learning a lot of techniques with no foundation and no root is very shallow and void. Developing the art to a truly deep and meaningful level takes a lifetime of dedicated training and a clear mind. It is a journey without an end. However, nowadays much of this generation do not have many of these qualities, and what is worse, is that they do not seek them either.

    I wish that the traditional arts would get some more attention. Otherwise, in a few more generations, we will truly lose its essence and original purpose. That is the reason I began the Art of Lei Tai 10-year program at the Francombat Center. I have been training a small group of students at this center full-time since 2008. The students train about 8 hours everyday, 10 months out of the year, and they live independently at the center. I hope that from having this daily, rigorous training routine, they will develop the attitude and characteristics necessary to become good martial artists, and to become good people.

    To a novice, there does not appear to be a lot of wrestling or ground work in Lei Tai/Kung Fu. Can you explain why?

    We do have the di tang chuan (Ground Skill Chuan) at high levels. For the lower levels, we don’t focus on these skills. Kung Fu is focused on real fighting, not competitions or sport. We try to teach beginners that, in a real fight, if you fall on the ground, you are in big trouble and you might get killed; so, we do have the di tang chuan, but it is for the higher level, when they have already learned how to stay on their feet. Also, our ground work is not the same as Jiu Jitsu, for example. We focus on leg kicks, breaking the leg, so it’s ground fighting, but not what many people might imagine – like the scissors, dog style, very advanced leg sweeps, and, as I said, breaking the leg. It’s not wrestling.

    Is there qigong in Lei Tai?

    Yes, we have the qigong in Lei Tai. If you train Lei Tai but don’t have the qigong, how will you do kung fu? We use qigong to develop our power, like jing li (hard striking power). When we punch, we want to use our qi to bring our power through to our fists and legs. If you don’t have qi, how can you have power in the fists and legs?

    And is there anything special about the qigong that you teach that is especially different from other approaches to qigong?

    Ah, no, but it must be remembered that within qigong traditions, there are many different forms of practice. Sometimes we sit, sometimes we stand; sometimes we do it the hard or external way, or wai chi kung (external qigong), so qigong comes from inside; but we also do it the soft or internal way, nei kung (internal qigong). Also, we do yen fa (eye work), training our eyes at the same time as we do our qigong.

    And of course qigong is also for training your breathing? When you’re fighting, how do you breathe?

    First you bring in the air through your nose, then you throw out your power and punch; then you let the air out your mouth, and relax.

    Many books claim that you must not use strength when training internal force. Yet, I see many internal arts masters use strength in their training. Can you please give us some explanation?

    Yes, it is important not to use muscular strength in the training of internal force. Once you use muscular strength, you will interrupt the flow of chi or vital energy. Internal force is a function of energy flow. If the energy flow is interrupted, internal force will be minimized or stopped.

    This concept is actually simple, but those who have no experience of internal force will find it hard or even impossible to understand, because most people equate force with muscular strength. They simply find it odd how one could be forceful if he does not use muscular strength. But if they realize that there are other types of force besides muscular strength, and there are different ways to generate these different types of force, they may not find it odd.

    Internal force is one of these different types of force; it is different from muscular strength. Muscular strength is produced by tensing the muscles, but internal force is produced by creating a voluminous energy flow.

    Those internal art masters you saw using muscular strength in their training do not have internal force. Let us look at taijiquan masters. As taijiquan is an internal art, taijiquan masters are internal art masters. Yet many taijiquan masters do not have internal force. In fact, some masters who teach taijiquan in public parks do not even have the strength to run up a flight of stairs.

    This is because they only teach and practice external taiji forms and have missed the internal essence of taijiquan. The external forms they teach and practice are genuine, but they have missed the internal essence.

    My chi kung teacher says that chi kung has nothing to do with kung-fu. Is this true?

    This is not true, although some forms of chi kung may not have anything to do with kung-fu. “Chi kung” is an umbrella term, referring to many different arts. The common factor in these arts is chi or energy. Some types of chi kung are practiced for health only and as such have nothing to do with kung-fu. Two examples are “Soaring Crane Chi Kung” and “Eight Pieces of Brocade.” Nevertheless, these types of chi kung practitioners also practice kung-fu, and their chi kung training enhances their kung-fu attainment.

    We often hear of using the opponent’s strength against himself, but no one can tell me how. I hope you can explain this to me.

    Suppose an opponent pushes you. Instead of resisting his push, you retreat your right leg a step backward and turn your body to your right side. At the same time you grip his right wrist with your right hand and pull him to fall forward, while you press down at his right elbow with your left hand. If you press hard you may dislocate his elbow. This pattern is called “lohan tames tiger” in shaolin kung-fu and it uses the opponent’s strength against himself.

    I have seen many kung-fu sparring competitions, but I have never seen any competitors using kung-fu patterns in their fights. What is your opinion?

    Kung-fu is in a sad situation today. Kung-fu practitioners, including masters, may have practiced kung-fu for many years, but when it comes to sparring or fighting, they throw all their kung-fu patterns to the wind and spar or fight like boxers or kickboxers. But the fact is that kung-fu can certainly be used for fighting, and I speak from experience. My sifu, my students and I have successfully used kung-fu in sparring and real fights.

    Must one be a Buddhist to practice shaolin kung-fu?

    No, anyone of any religion or of no official religion can practice shaolin kung-fu or any style of kung-fu. Kung-fu is nonreligious.Although the Shaolin Temple was a Buddhist institution, there were people of different religions practicing kung-fu in the Temple. There were many shaolin masters who were Taoist, Christian, Muslim and other religions.It may be a surprise to many Westerners that the Chinese, as well as many Eastern peoples, do not have the concept of a fixed religion. In fact, the concept of religion is quite foreign to them. In the Chinese language, the term that comes closest to the concept of religion is “zhong jiao,” which actually means “traditional teaching.” Hence, many Chinese are Buddhist, Taoist and Confucianist at the same time.But this doesn’t end there. Those methods must be trained PROPERLY. For example, training forms without proper body mechanics to generate power is a waste of time. Training two-persons forms without the proper “spirit”, just mechanically won’t do much good. In other words studying a traditional system doesn’t suffice. You need the guidance of a Shifu who will make sure the training is done the right way.

    What are your feelings on “Full Contact Fighting” and how it exploded over the last few years?

    Concerning full contact fighting, I think this is just a small part of the learning experience. I first train all of my students to enter tournaments for a period of time, only to test their own abilities and to deal with the sport aspects of Lei Tai Fighting.

    Competition has huge benefits for a student’s growth. Dealing with fear, and also dealing with winning and losing are all part of life. The real opponent we face at this point in training is ourselves. Once the lessons have been learned you must move forward, beyond tournaments. There are greater rewards awaiting those who keep moving forward in their training, awards that no tournament can match.

    As for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Cage Fighting events, this is part of the tournament scene. They also have their place. Those who know realize these types of events are not the true martial arts either. The fighting aspects are considered to be the lowest benefits of our training, spiritual growth being the highest level. However, fighting skill is the first reason most people study the martial arts. This is natural, I myself started for these reasons. But in time and with the right teachers to guide you, higher levels are realized. They practice the arts to cultivate and discipline the mind, body and spirit. Once these levels are reached the fighting stops and the loving begins.

    Today, most Martial Artist have no understanding of philosophy, wisdom and inner peace. There are a lot of schools that just teach students how to fight and thats all, they aren’t taught spirituality. Young martial artists especially don’t have first hand experience with this. I feel that there is a missing piece to a puzzle and that young martial artists are not being taught that martial arts are not just about fighting but are a lifestyle with many components.

    The philosophy and wisdom taught within the Kung Fu learning experience are worth their weight in gold. It is here that we learn nature’s deepest secrets. Sadly, there are those who do not teach this aspect of our arts, simply because they have not learned it. Therefore not every school will advocate the traditional approach to learning. There will always be those who just want to fight. This is the nature of man.

    There will always be the Yin and Yang aspects to all things: those who do and those who don’t, those who will and those who won’t. There is no changing these forces. It is the people who must change. The path of wisdom comes to those who seek it. Some will and some won’t.

    What is your primary teaching message?

    Some people think martial arts is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious that that. Art takes a lot of time and the right mind to truly appreciate and enjoy. Keep your cup empty and continue searching deeper and deeper into your practice. Without this mentality, the art you practice will always be only on the surface. I began training martial arts because I wanted to fight, but from that time until now, after more than 30 years of practice, it has evolved into something so much more rewarding.

    How effective your practice ultimately is will be up to exactly how much you train, what you train, and for what purposes. As i said several time, Lei Tai Fighting is a different sport, with different rules. Like MMA is different than Boxing. There is no ground fighting. As a matter of fact, you have 10 second to submit your opponent.

    What has been the hardest obstacle in teaching?

    The hardest obstacle today is finding committed students. It is not easy to find a student who is able and willing to sacrifice or compromise things such as their job, families, or social lives to sincerely dedicate to training. Kung Fu has been downgraded to a hobby or sport. Additionally, it is not easy to find a student who has the will, patience, endurance, perseverance, and morality required to train to a meaningful level. Any art takes a lot of time and patience (Gongfu) to reach an accomplished or exceptional level. So many young kids only want a quick result and do not train as seriously as the generations before them, but still want and expect the rewards

    Have you ever considered to fight in the UFC and Why?

    I am a big fan of combat sports, period! However, I never been interested to compete in the cage simply because I was already competing in Kuoshu Lei Tai tournament and I was pretty good at fighting. So I just decided to stick with my sport, and today it pay off.

    Can you talk about the seminars and certification in the Art of Lei Tai?

    Student will receive certificate by me and their sash will come with the student’s name inscribed on it. There’re three level in the Art of Lei Tai; beginner, intermediate and advanced level, represented by yellow, blue and red sash.

    What is your training schedule look like?

    Food, Afternoon session, Food, Evening session, Food, Sleep, Repeat.

    Do you use weights in your training?

    Yes, I train with weights about 3 times a week.

    You were well known for your hardcore physical conditioning – when you were preparing for a fight, you were in the gym 3 times a day, 6 days a week – but how important is the mental aspect of the fight game?

    I think the mental aspect is just as important as the physical aspect because mentally you have to be a really tough person to endure training six days a week and the diet for 12 weeks …and when you get in the cage you obviously got to be mentally tough so that you’re prepared to fight.

    Does your mental preparation vary with different upcoming opponents?

    No I think it’s pretty much always the same. I’m always a pretty intense dude. I’ve never taken an opponent lightly, so I never trained lightly for any fight. Mentally – like I said before – I just train like a maniac and diet – there’s no such thing as days off. It doesn’t matter if it’s your birthday, Christmas, Easter. It doesn’t matter. You train regardless. It takes a different kind of person to be able to do that.

    What kind of things do you do to relax your mind and body – progressive relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga – anything like that?

    Right now the only thing I do to relax is to sit down and watch TV. I don’t really have any hobbies or anything of that nature. I just try to sit down relax, watch TV and {get my mind away from the fight game whenever I can.

    Quite a few fighters have said that “visualization” is a big part of their mental preparation. How – if at all – do you use visualization or mental practice in your own training?

    I use it a lot during training. For one, obviously, if I get put in a position where I don’t know how to get out of it. I’ll figure out how to get out of it after class is over. Then I’ll visualize myself getting out of the position over, and over so if I am in that position again I know how to get out of it immediately without even having drilled it but just a few times. I also visualize before a fight by putting myself in different situations mentally. Whatever my opponent’s going to do to me – escaping mounts, avoiding takedowns, boxing, so I visualize that type of stuff as well. I think for the most part visualization is good for training the mind. You train the body to do all this stuff and I think it’s good to train the mind as well using repetition in your head.

    A lot of fighters, even at the elite level, still sometimes get the jitters. How do you handle those?

    I get the jitters every time. I’ve never had a wrestling match or a fight, regardless of how tough or how easy the opponent, where I don’t get nervous every single time. I think that’s a good thing, though. When I start not getting nervous, it’s not going to be a good thing. Nerves can make you or nerves can break you. I think in my case, they make me. They make me perform better. So it sucks to get nervous before a fight, but it’s something that’s kind of a necessity. It’s part of the deal.

    How important is it to have a pre-fight routine and what do you think should be included?

    I think having a fight day routine is really important for me. That’s all part of getting in the zone. You have got to get yourself mentally and physically ready. At that point in time, that close to a fight, physically the work is done. That’s when the mental aspect starts to take place. You have to get yourself mentally ready for your fight. The physical work is done. So I have a routine. I do things a certain way, and I want things done a certain way. I want to rest and train at certain times. I want to eat at certain times. Basically, on fight day I lock myself in my room and I watch fight videos of my opponent all day long. I write down my game plan. I write down everything everything he does. That’s when I really do a lot of visualization all day long – that’s all I do. Watch my opponent’s fight videos. Break down all of that stuff so I can visualize point by point by point so when I get in there I feel like I’ve already fought the guy before.

    What role does confidence play for a professional fighter?

    I think you have to have some kind of confidence. If you go in there and you have no confidence at all, you might fight a little bit scared and that can affect the way you perform. I think that comes back into nerves. I think the reason that myself and a lot of fighters get nervous before a fight is because they have a little bit of doubt. I think it’s that little bit of doubt that you have that is going to help you excel when you fight, if you know how to use it properly

    Have you ever lost confidence in your own skills or ability to win?

    I don’t recall myself at any point in time… maybe during training I might have. You have a bad day during training and you’re like “Aww man, what am I doing. I’m going to get killed.” So, I’ve had bad days and I know everybody else has had bad days. I think if you have a bad day in training you might start second guessing yourself a little bit. But like I said, for me, if I have a bad day in the gym, I don’t sleep that night, man. I sit up and stare at the ceiling all night long because I’m frustrated and I’m pissed off. But I’ve never had two bad days in a row. If I have a bad day, I come back twice as hard the next day and I make up for what I did the previous day.

    How do you think emotions affect a fighter’s performance?

    Again, that comes down to how you use it. If you are able to use it to your advantage, I think it’s going to help you excel, but if you don’t know how to use it to your advantage, You’re not going to excel. I know a lot of guys that are “game day fighters.” Guys that are ok in the gym and then when they step in the cage, they fight like they have never fought or trained before. Then I know guys that are animals in the gym and then as soon as you step in the cage, they can’t perform worth a shit. So, I think that all comes down to emotions and being able to use them to your advantage.

    Should you have sex before a fight?

    It depend of the individual.

    What is one lesson on psychological preparation that you have learned from your years of experience in competition that you wish you had learned earlier in your career?

    I guess when I was younger I didn’t know how to use psychological or mental preparation as much as now. Now I focus on it a lot, and I think it’s a big attribute to have to be able to think about it whenever you need to. So back then I guess I didn’t really use it a lot. So there’s a lot of things I guess I wish I would have done differently when I was younger, but at least I figured out now how to use it.

    How important is psychology for an athlete, especially a fighter?

    Many of the best combat sport trainers and athletes have said that 10-20% of success in those sports comes from physical factors and 80-90% comes from mental factors. In reality, there’s no way to precisely measure these things, but it does all point to the fact that psychological factors are critical for effective fight sport performance. It may be particularly important at the elite levels because fighters are already matched up on size, experience and skill. Sport psychology won’t magically transform a bad fighter into a great one, but it can help most fighters to achieve their potential.

    How does a fighter maximize his or her psychological approach to prepare for a fight?

    It’s interesting that most fighters will tell you that mental skills are the most important, but in their own training, they spend nearly all of their time on physical training and very little on enhancing mental skills – even though physical conditioning usually peaks out before mental conditioning. Maybe that’s because some don’t realize that psychological skills can be trained and developed.

    What happens in the brain when a fighter gets psyched up or psyched out and why?

    Well, the brain controls all behavior. And basically there are three behavioral components of your fight performance that are affected by psychological factors: Thoughts (Cognition); Feelings (Emotion) and Physical (Somatic). Whether and when a fighter gets psyched up or psyched out depends largely on what’s happening with his thoughts, feelings and physical responses. Each of those factors can affect the others in different orders at different times. A negative thought like “I’m gassing- I won’t make it to the end of the round” may lead to feeling discouraged and having physical sensations of fatigue. On the other hand, rehearsing confident thoughts like “I am strong and powerful and completely prepared for this match” may lead to feelings of excitement, which produce physical sensations of energy. The solution – just like fight strategy – lies in preparing for what might happen and building a skill set to respond effectively.

    What kind of pieces have you written about the psychology of fighting?

    I have written articles about how to assess your own mental skills, improving focus, building confidence, developing mental toughness, keeping your opponent from getting inside your head, psychological fight preparation and even depression.

    How should a fighter adjust his thinking after a loss?

    In my experience, the best fighters don’t ruminate over the loss or repeatedly beat themselves up over it. They develop an explanation that makes sense to them about “what happened” – then they figure out what they need to work on to keep that from happening again; they make a plan to do it; and they follow through. Some fighters develop an explanation of the loss that works for them, but that others may see as an “excuse.” Allowing yourself to wallow in a loss will sap your energy and undermine your confidence. Losing a fight doesn’t make a fighter a “loser.”

    When bouncing back from a loss, what I’ve seen work for most is to accept the loss, keep their confidence up, and develop specific, measurable goals they want to achieve in moving forward. They then get swiftly to the task of working to achieve them. Looking forward works better than continuing to look back.

    What is the best advice you could give someone trying to focus before a match?

    The best approach for a fighter to prepare psychologically for a match has to be tailored to that individual’s needs. In general, though, some common factors seem to be setting challenging and measurable goals, monitoring mental performance in your training log, and making necessary adjustments to build the skills you need and to remove any barriers to optimal performance. For fight-day preparation, many fighters find it helpful to structure their day in advance, do some exercises to get them in a very positive state of mind, then to monitor and adjust their level of emotional intensity or arousal through the day so they’re feeling good at the start of first round.

    I guess my general advice would be to set and follow a schedule for the day. Keep your thoughts positively focused, using positive self-talk. Try not to allow the “what ifs” to creep in. Drown them out with your confidence. As you get closer to the fight, you will narrow the focus of your thoughts and mental images toward the beginning of the fight. Also do a gut check on your arousal level. You want to achieve your optimal state as the fight starts. If you are too revved-up, then do some breathing and relaxation exercises to settle down. If you are feeling drained or lethargic, then get your body moving or listen to some motivational music to kick it up a notch.

    What role do visualization and positive reinforcement play in a fighter’s development?

    Fighters use visualization in different ways. One way is to use it for mental practice. When you are first learning a technique you can do hundreds of repetitions of it in your head even if you’re not able to do as many in training. Physical practice works best, of course, but mental practice works too – particularly when you are imagining yourself actually performing the task, not just watching yourself do it “from the outside.” Research shows that that mentally rehearsing a physical skill activates the same neural pathways as when you actually perform that task. Another way to use visualization is for specific fight preparation. You can visualize yourself fighting a particular opponent – performing exactly the way you want to and successfully defending against his attacks. Psychologically, you are building a history of having successfully done it before, which boosts your confidence.

    Are there any mental exercises a fighter or athlete can do to prep for competition?

    Absolutely. Like anything else, though, developing mental skills take practice. Certain exercises are pretty fundamental like progressive relaxation, positive self-talk and imagery (visualization). Other exercises depend on the individual fighter’s needs and capacities. We can often get pretty creative in helping to build psychological skills for competition.

    Do you think psychology is under appreciated in fighting?

    Sport psychology, as a field, is definitely growing. Psychologists have been studying sport performance since the late 1800s, but they really didn’t begin performance consulting with athletes until the 1960s. The U.S. Olympic Committee only hired its first full-time sports psychologist in 1985. As for its application to fighting and combat sports, I don’t necessarily think the importance of psychology is underappreciated, but it certainly is not used as systematically or as effectively as it could be. With FILA’s recent recognition of grappling and the explosive growth of Mixed Martial Arts in particular, I hope there is an opportunity to make sport psychology a regular part of combat sport training. A number of MMA fighters, professional boxers, and Olympic wrestlers and judoists have consulted with sport psychologists over the years, but most have not.

    As I said, I think that people know the mental side of the game is important, and they may even know how to discipline themselves and be tough, but they don’t necessarily know how to assess and build a mental skill set to complement the strength, conditioning and fighting skills. Some don’t even know that factors like concentration, confidence, relaxation, and mental toughness are skills that can be learned, practiced and developed. So I guess my goal is get more fighters and trainers to think systematically about their mental game in the same way that they think about fighting skills, conditioning and nutrition as parts of the big picture. Many elite-level fighters or fight camps have a strength and conditioning coach or a sport nutritionist that they consult with – but how many have a sport psychologist? Sure – psychologists can help people who are depressed or who have serious psychological problems, but those with an understanding of sport psychology can also do so much more – not just to provide treatment, but to enhance performance and to take their fight game to the next level.

    What was your toughest moment?

    It can be really tough hearing people struggling with serious depression or other emotional problems…their feelings of hopelessness ….hearing about the horrific childhood or life experiences that they had to endure – things no child so have to go through. I am constantly amazed, however, at the personal strength and resilience that people find within themselves, in their faith, or through support from others that help them overcome incredible adversity

    What makes a fighter’s mentality different than any other athlete?

    That’s a really interesting question. I don’t know that there is any “right” answer or that the answer is necessarily the same for all fighters. Many of the skills are similar, but they have to be applied differently. For example, focus is important both in tennis and in fighting, but how you focus and where you focus and the timing of that focus and the nature of the distractions are very different for each sport. One factor that I think is somewhat unique to MMA is the very personal and physical nature of the battle for dominance. It is one of the only sports I can think of where people typically lose because they are hurting so badly they have to quit or because they have been pummeled so badly a referee has to stop it. People get injured in a lot of sports, but those injuries are incidental. In MMA it’s not a part of the game, it is the game. So one of the things that is different about an MMA fighter’s mentality is that he or she has to develop an adaptive way to respond – cognitively, emotionally and physically – to the fact that they have an opponent who in most cases is trying to hurt them. Different fighters develop that adaptation in different ways, but you really have to find a way to deal with it as a sport or professional exchange, not just as a bar fight.

    What can trainers and coaches learn from having a better understanding of psychology?

    I think this is really where sport psychology has such great potential to be infused into combat sport training. If the coaches and trainers recognize the value, they can use it, and they can make sure it is given proper time and priority in the training regimen.

    There was a survey done several years ago of wrestling coaches in which nearly all of them rated mental skills as being highly important, but very few of them felt like they knew how to teach them. I think coaches and trainers can benefit from sport psychology in two ways. First, they can apply the principles to their coaching of each athlete–to understand his learning style, to better understand what motivates him and how to help him achieve his goals. Second, they can use knowledge of sport psychology to assess their fighters’ mental skill profile, so that they understand the strengths and weaknesses in the mental game and integrate that into training in the same way they do with the fight skills.

    What is your favorite quote or inspirational phrase that you use to motivate yourself for training and competition?

    I’ve got one that I believe is a Thomas Alva Edison quote, it’s something that I think about almost every day as soon as I start getting tired or I want to take the day off early or I don’t want to do my sprints – is “There’s no substitute for hard work.” The harder you work, the more successful you are going to be, and that’s something I try to think about almost on a daily basis.

    Some people say you incarnate a modern Bruce Lee?

    I don’t consider myself as anyone but Franco Richard. Bruce Lee was an innovator and was instrumental in spreading Kung Fu that is still evolving. It is an honor to be compared to Bruce Lee, but Bruce is one of a kind and so am I. Bruce Lee made you believe in what he was able to do. People have made the comparison between us. Personally, I’m my own man, and I’m on my own journey. I cannot fully accept something like the comparison because I am me. But I definitely take pride in it that some people would compare us two, because the man is a legend.

    What fighters do you count among your influences?

    I came up watching Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. They are two iconic people. I like their approach to combat sports, I like their skills and I like their philosophies. I think skill and philosophy go hand in hand. You have to be the full package. I think my master is another one because of his understanding of the body and his focus on breathing technique. Breathing is an overlooked aspect of the fight game. If you can control your breathing, you can control anything.

    How did Bruce Lee influence you?

    His philosophy, his belief that there were no styles. He was formless. He adapted to everything. There was not one set pattern, movement or routine. He was ahead of the curve.

    What stands out to you the most about him?

    I admired his evasive skills. He was the best defensive fighter ever. You could not hit him. Add that to his confidence and his beliefs, I admire someone who believes in himself and in his ability and backs it up.

    Do you allow yourself to dislike an opponent?

    We cannot get along with everyone. It doesn’t mean I disrespect them or act like a fool. I don’t get caught up in all that trash-talking stuff, just because it’s really not who I am. I’ve always kind of gone by that mentality – just be humble and respect your competitors. I fight for things I stand for. I’m not going to let myself be disrespected – I am not a coward. If I have something to do, I’m going to do it.

    Is it possible to show too much respect to an opponent?

    A lot of people mistake my kindness for weakness. They have no idea where I come from; they don’t know my past. They see Francombat. They forget that before I was Francombat I was Franco Richard, just a regular guy from the bottom of the food chain. I had to work a lot to get where I am. It’s been pretty crazy to be able to finally kind of put in place everything that I’ve worked really hard for. It’s always been a dream of mine to achieve this kind of success.

    What do you like about combat sports?

    First, I love the fact that it allows me to meet lots of passionate people and talented athletes. It’s very inspiring. I really just love combat sports, I love the drama around it and love the characters. I go to quite a few fight events and I love sitting ringside because it’s the only sport where you are that close to the action. Like I have said before, it’s like a chess game – you move the wrong piece, and it’s over.

    What do you not like about combat sports?

    I don’t like cheater. Fighters that takes steroide. It make the whole combat sports industry look bad. Unfortunately, not everyone gives martial arts a good name. I hope to change that with Pro Lei Tai.

    Do you have any heroes?

    None, but I take inspiration from everyone and everything. I’m inspired by champions, former champions, true competitors, people dedicated to their dream, hard workers, dreamers, believers, achievers. There is no world-best. And no one is unbeatable. We all want perfection but it’s almost impossible and I am myself after it at every moment. I always try to improve but it’s very difficult.

    Have you had to deal with personal threats or “challenges” over the years?

    In my earlier years of teaching, sometimes people would just walk into my school and interrupt my classes or seminars to cause trouble. I mostly defused such challenges without fighting, but felt forced to respond to several persistent individuals. One time, there was a drunk guy who came to my school to challenge me. I did not believe he really wanted to fight, and in the end, I was right. He began by talking a lot about how he had won many fights against other people. I listened to him and nodded my head. When he realized I was actually listening, he calmed down a little. I told him that I was in the middle of a class and said that if he wanted to fight, he would have to wait until my class was over. He sat down. I gave him a cup of strong coffee. When I finished teaching my class, he was nowhere to be found. All I saw was an empty coffee cup on his chair. From then on, every time he walked past the school, he would always raise up both of his hands and wave to say hello. We became friends. I believe that most people are not bad, and sometimes it just takes a little bit of work to get to know somebody’s true intentions. Sometimes people just come across some rough patches in life. I understand that very well from my own experiences.

    The worst challenge that I had to deal with was when I was attacked in a nightclub in Quebec city by people who only had the intention to harm or conquer me. Many were just interested promoting themselves, and only wanted to be able to say, “I beat Francombat.” There was no chance to show courtesy or establish friendship in these situations. That is why you must be alert when someone approaches you with a hostile attitude. If you have good awareness and alertness, you can easily sense when such a situation is coming and react appropriately. The outcome is always dependent on how good your reaction skills are, your strategy and assessment of the threat (if any real threat is there), and how effective the techniques you use are. In many cases, I was able to just walk away, regardless of how upset the other party was. Sometimes all that is required is a calm mind and a well-strategized approach. I still believe that the best fight is no fight. In today’s modern day times, physical confrontation is usually not necessary, and that is the option I always seek first before all other solutions.

    Beside being the Chairman and CEO of Francombat Management, LLC., you are the Founder of Pro Lei Tai and the Lei Tai Championship series. What does it mean for you and what are your responsibilities regarding this position?

    It is a lifelong dream. It truly shows me the power of visualization and the power of an unshakeable belief. It is just the beginning. That first event was a huge turning point in my life It fulfilled a lifetime dream of mine and has changed my life in many ways. The purpose of Pro Lei Tai Worldwide is to promote Amateur and Professional Lei Tai Fighting through the principles of Chinese Martial Arts known as Kung Fu in the West. I am honored to be of service to this organizations working to bring martial artists form around the world closer together. As the founder of the professional combat sport my mission is to promote Lei Tai Fighting as the first class sport that it is, to provide the best quality and fairest tournaments, and to offer to the fan of combat sport the most exciting spectator events given anywhere. My role as ambassador not only keeps me traveling around the world, but allowed to share my passion for Kung Fu. I want people everywhere to realize that Lei Tai Fighting™ is a first class sport and the Lei Tai (platform) is the formal place for martial artists to express martial arts techniques.

    What is your favorite part about your job?

    The creative brainstorm sessions with my executives. It is all encompassing. I learn so much about all different facets of the media industry (Television, Movies, Magazines, Digital Media, Publishing).

    What is your least favorite part about your job?

    Not being able to turn my brain off. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the next new and exciting thing for the sport and the brands. The hardest part of my job is constantly being on the road away from my family is the worst part.

    What are the qualities of a good promoter?

    One must first be a good communicator and be provided with a certain charisma (unfortunately it seems it can not be learned!). Listen to and enhance its fighters. Finally, you have to work in teams.

    Tell us how exactly how you managed to lose your French accent and what motivated you to do this?

    I used a camera to record myself reading the Wall Street Journal and played the tape back to focus on my mispronunciation. Practice certainly helps. In business being clear and concise when you speak is one of the most important qualities you need to have.

    Which style of martial arts is the best?

    No matter what your martial arts style, we all share one thing: the quest for greatness. My point is each art form has something to offer, so I cannot say which is better, because each strengthens the other. The Chinese style will teach you the Chinese way, the Japanese style will teach you the Japanese way, the Korean style, the Korean way and so on. I think the important point is that no single martial art is adequate to prepare the practitioner for the full range of situations that may potentially occur in a real fight. Individuals will naturally gravitate toward those arts which best suit their individual physicality and personality, but it is vital to become well rounded enough to have constructive responses to any situation which may arise. Almost without exception, all of the famous masters of old (those that were famous for actually fighting) trained in several different systems. Cross training was and is the only way to truly prepare for real fighting. Remember that all styles of martial arts were founded by men who had cross-trained, and then christened their synthesis as a new style. As much as the romantic in us would like to believe the old myths, the truth is no one ever learned a style in a dream, from reading the Book of Changes or from watching snakes, birds and bugs. Personally, I believe that for the vast majority of people, although it is vital to be able to punch and kick, a foundation in the wrestling/grappling-based arts is the most important for martial proficiency. I believe it is important to respect the practitioners of all types of martial arts, regardless of the style. Remaining humble with an open mind is the only way to continuous improvement. You can learn something from just about everyone. I often tell my students, “if it works for you, it’s good.”

    Some people say that there is no such thing as being “ring-proven” and that true martial artists don’t compete. What is your opinion?

    These people are too afraid to prove themselves and make that up as an excuse not to fight. Everybody knows that fighting and training are totally different. You have the, so called “Dojo fighters”, they are real good in the Dojo, but if they have to fight with all the pressure, they can’t perform. It is like saying that soccer, basketball, golf, swimming and others professional sports is not done by true athletes because they compete! If this is true for Martial Artists, it should be true for every sport. What is a better way to test your limits than competing? If you train without competing don’t be so sure that it will be enough when you have to defend yourself on the street.

    In your opinion, what makes a great fighter?

    For me it’s heart, drive, and a fighter who wants to be the best in the world. There are a lot of guys who excel when things are going their way but crumble at the first sign of adversity. The guy who never quits, who never stops trying to win, and who wants to be the best no matter how bad things seem – that is the guy with the potential to be great.

    Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn?

    I hold a degree in Health and Nutritions. Other than that, I have a masters in unarmed combat.

    What was your job before becoming an entrepreneur?

    While attending college, I held a variety of jobs, including delivering newspaper, modeling, bartender, bouncer, party promoter and penny stock trader. During this period, I had various business ventures, including a pub, Kung Fu schools, and a concierge service, which I still owns them.

    Specific accomplishments in amateur competition?

    I am a 2-time Shuai Jiao Gold Medalist (Chinese-style wrestling) and Kuoshu-style Lei Tai fighting Silver Medalist. I also been featured in Who’s Who in the World of Kung Fu.

    Do you think that if someone wants to learn real Kung Fu he has to go to China?

    No. come to my gym and you will see.

    How many hours per week should train a student to grow in a serious way?

    If I were to train a student, suppose he knows nothing and is not a born-fighter, I can make him good in fighting within 6 months. Say, 5 days per week, each day 2 hours.

    What do you find most enjoyable about teaching?

    I like changing people’s lives for the better. When I see somebody that you know is just a normal student and their life becomes better, they become a stronger person, they become a better person, that something that really exemplifies why I’m still teaching even with busy schedule.

    Would you teach people for free?

    I often teach for free to people that can’t affort it. However, like every human being on earth, I have bills to pay.

    How do you help fighters expand their collection of techniques without changing their strengths or tendencies?

    Well that’s the real trick. I always try to add to what they are really good at, and then try round out what they are not good at. That’s the method I try to use.

    What is the difference between training for self-defense and training for a full-contact sport?

    When it comes to self defense you are on the street and it is a lot different than fighting in the ring. In the ring you are prepared for the strategy, etc.; on the street you must be able to react instantly.

    When did you start paying attention to the mental game of fightings and developing your own philosophy for the fight game?

    After my second defeat I decided the mind needs to be fully committed, just like an obsession. You’re either all in or all out. In the beginning I wasn’t really serious. I was just training and competing, just showing up to the gym, falling into routine and not really committing myself. I was having outside activities like playing football, doing this, doing that, going out. I was fighting the obsession. Then I decided I would just let it take over—and screw everything else. I don’t want nothing else. I want this.

    Is mental toughness for a fighter something that can be developed or do some fighters just have it and others don’t?

    It can absolutely be developed and improved, some start a little more tougher than others but every fighter no matter how weak or strong you are, if you have the determination to become mentally stronger, that’s what the martial arts give you, that mental confidence. Being able to do things mentally you weren’t able to do before.

    Is it ok to be angry in a fight?

    There is a lot of masters and instructors who will still argue with me – be emotionless, but I disagree. We have emotions, we’re human beings so I teach from the standpoint, it’s great to have the emotions as long as you don’t let cloud your reaction. There is no place for emotions in combat.

    What did you learn from competing in Lei Tai tournaments?

    After I had been training in Taiwan about six months, my Xing Yi Quan teacher entered me in a full contact tournament. Though I lost, it was an enlightening experience for me. Although there were few rules in these matches, there was a certain strategy that applied, much different from a street fight for example. Many of the Chinese fighters are extremely tough, and they usuallv dominate the international competitions there. Competing with them I gained valuable experience and insight into my own methods of training. I went back to revise my training based on my experiences and, a few months later, I entered another full contact competition. The organizers put me up into the light heavyweight division although at the time I was only 150 lbs. I took first place in the division and came through without injury. This experience was very valuable as it indicated my training methods were on the right track. The next year I entered one of the larger international tournaments. I won again, taking first place in the middleweight division.

    I feel these competitions gave me a wealth of valuable experience. I think the most important lessons I learned from these fights was that you can never practice the basics too much. You need to be a well rounded fighter, but knowing a thousand techniques you can do beautifully when there is no real pressure is not nearly as valuable as mastering a few techniques you can actually use in a real fight. It is, however, vital to be exposed to all areas of fighting. In order to be able to maintain mental calm and physical relaxation under pressure, you must be proficient in striking, wrestling and grappling arts. Sparring with skilled, non-cooperative opponents is a must if you hope to be able to use your art in a real fight. Finally, your mind-set and attitude will almost always prove to be the ultimate determinate of your victory or defeat.

    You’ve said before that not every fighter is a martial artist. What’s the difference?

    First, you can tell by the way one carry himself in and out the competition. A fighter trains only when he has a fight. He trains only when he’s fighting. Me, I train for a lifestyle. Even back in the days when I was competing and I was not getting ready for a fight, I was always in shape. I do it as a lifestyle. All those guys that dedicate their lives to one martial art in particular and improving it – they’re true martial artists. Fighter fight! Martial artist seek the “art” in the martial. Someone at the gym asked me the other day what I was in training for…I said ‘I train for a better me.”

    What’s the most important lessons you learned from studying martial arts?

    To never give up on yourself, always live a healthy lifestyle and improve yourself to be a better person for others.

    What do you need in martial arts to become a successful master?

    Be yourself. Self mastery is the only truth I believe and what comes after this self-mastery.

    Tell me how the book Enter Francombat came about?

    My first book, Enter Francombat is simply an edited copy of the diary I kept in Asia and a collections of articles I published on my blog. During those years of adventuring in Asia I studied martial arts deeply, So I wrote and think a lot about the art, comparing one art to another, and also I did a lot of research, it was all experiential. My life was pretty well documented through the stories I wrote. Every time I would train, I would take notes. The book is an overview of the martial arts. It’s my personal opinions on what I’ve learned. I don’t believe you can learn technique from a book but I believe you can learn a way of thinking. And that’s all my book is. It’s not going to teach you how to fight. It’s going to teach you how to train, how to pick a school, how to pick a style, what you can expect in your psychological make-up as you go through the ranks, what you can expect from the street as opposed to your club, how to train by yourself, how to train with a group. But the book never tells you what to do. It just opens your eyes to what you will see and it’s a guide to what to expect.

    Tell us a little about your blog. When did you start it, and what was your intention?

    I started blogging by accident. I’ve always had the itch to write, but honestly lacked the discipline to do it consistently. In 2007, while I was working to make the traditional Lei Tai fighting a recognized professional combat sport, I had to find a way to help myself to never give up on my dream and shut down negativity from people trying to bring me down. The blog I started then transformed to Unfightable and became one of the best destination for wisdom. Blogging offers a write-as-you-go-approach that is comfortable. I haven’t stopped blogging, or writing, since that fateful Saturday.

    Why “Unfightable”? How did you come up with that name?

    Unfightable connects people who are looking to walk by faith, share inspiration, and celebrate positive change. The meaning of the blog’s name comes from becoming aware of where we are today and seeing where we want to be tomorrow, and then making the deliberate choice to cross the bridge to discover the beautiful life waiting for us there.

    What inspired you to write Unfightable: With Every Epic Battle Comes an Unfightable Story?

    The book has been inside me for a long time. Writing every day for my blog did two things: It made me a better writer, and it helped me find my voice. With a newfound confidence in my writing, along with the positive reactions I was getting from readers, I felt the time was right to write the book. The book is a heartfelt recounting of my best advice on finding the inner strength (no matter where you look) to never give up on your dreams—or on yourself. My book was not only inspired by my blog; it was inspired by seeing the positive difference I was making.

    Many people said that I had changed their lives. That through me they finally did what they liked and that I had allowed them to take action. Over time, I found that I had this magical power of persuasion that people are finally realizing their dream. I want to be an inspiration for the young and for those who have ambitions. On the other hand, I didn’t want to wait 60 years to tell my path and inspire others. It seems that a majority of people truly want to know themselves and to make changes in their lives, but they do not know how. That is why I wrote #UNFIGHTABLE. It is an entertaining guide to discovering what you believe and why you believe what you believe.

    Nothing feels better than knowing that I’ve made a difference in other people’s lives. I’ve always tried to help family and friends, and I derived great satisfaction working with people. I love hear comment like: “This was just what I needed to hear today!” or each time I read an article, it spoke to me in a deeply personal way. While the themes are universally-applicable, it seems uncanny how often people find the exact words they need to hear. We all deal with the issues over and over again, and sometimes in very close proximity.

    Why do think so much people want to write on Unfightable.com?

    People write about deeply personal things. They sometimes want advice, but I think often they just want to be heard. They want to know that others have been there, that we’re all human. I try to hold the space for whoever may want to talk with me, letting them know I can relate and that I’m there. What I found was that I was spending a lot of money subscribing to ten different print magazines in order to get the content that appealed to all the facets of my life. Most of us are not interested in just one thing. We are dynamic, multi-faceted, creative individuals. There is a global movement happening for both men and women. Collectively, we have come to want and expect more from life.

    We live in a time where it’s cool to be brilliant and stylish. We set ourselves apart from other publications/blogs by offering content that is relevant to our readers’ adventurous, many-sided lives. Unfightable articles are written by passionate, enthusiastic, intelligent young professionals who have a keen understanding of our target audience because we are the target audience.” I think people want to be able to share the things that they’ve been through. Vulnerability makes people feel like they can share and feel less alone.

    In my book, I discuss the Dalai Lama’s idea that there needs to be a middle ground somewhere between the “me” and the “we.” Neither extreme individualism nor extreme collectivism is healthy. We all need to be able to strike that balance. Our culture does value individual success and wealth. It’s a matter of redefining that dream for ourselves so that it doesn’t divorce us from what we need for our own health and happiness.

    You talk a lot about faith in your book, as you do on your site. Would you say readers of all spiritual traditions can benefit from your book, even if they don’t put faith in a higher power?

    The faith message I share in the book isn’t from a religion point-of-view. It’s more about having faith that our lives matter; that we are all born with a purpose and with unique gifts to fulfill that purpose. For me, faith is about finding the strength (no matter where you look) to never give up on your dreams—or on yourself.

    How important is faith to the practice of martial arts?

    It is extremely important. You can’t study the language without knowing the culture. You absolutely can’t study the culture without studying the language, and religion is one of the biggest factors in culture. Finally, you can’t study the martial art without knowing the language, religion and culture. I probably know more about the Chinese culture than a lot of Chinese people do.

    Are you religious?

    If you’re asking, you probably don’t want to hear the answer. My religion is pretty simple. When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. Either way, it doesn’t really affect how I behave.

    In your principle on love, you defined it as seeing the best in others, not the worst. Why do you think we struggle to do this, and how can we change our instinct to focus on perceived flaws and slights?

    I think we tend to see the flaws in others before recognizing their beauty because that’s how we see ourselves sometimes. When we believe we are beautiful; not so much in a physical sense, but in a spiritual one, we can then begin to see the world and everyone in it, as beautiful, too.

    What do you think is the most important precursor to real, lasting change?

    Wanting to change—really wanting to change. No matter if it’s learning to be a better spouse or partner, losing weight, or pursuing a passion, nothing happens until we want it to happen. But to answer your question directly, I think the precursor for change is recognizing that a certain aspect of our life is no longer for us, but we desperately want it to begin working again.

    What is the main message you hope readers take from your book?

    Creating positive change begins with discovering one powerful truth: You cannot change or heal what you do not acknowledge.

    You’ve written that your book is not like other self-help books. What makes it different?

    People who write self-help books often come across as super-beings. While it’s nice to be able to look up to them, their seeming perfection can make their suggestions seem unachievable. I’m no super-being. I readily acknowledge experiencing frustration, failure, stress, and anxiety like everyone else. And I make mistakes. Plenty of them. I work hard to learn from my mistakes. And then I share that learning with everyone I know. Another friend, after reading the first draft of the book, said to me that he loved my book because it’s unlike other self-help books that “tout all kinds of grand changes that end up oppressing you, making you feel so guilty that you avert your eyes as you walk past the shelf where they sit and accusingly call out to you, Why aren’t you following our instructions?”

    My book, instead, is filled with practical, achievable suggestions for all kinds of ways that you can improve your life, along with a method for making changes that stick. My teaching is not a philosophy. It is the result of direct experience. My teaching is a means of practice.

    One thing I love about your book is that you write in an accessible, down-to-earth tone and you offer suggestions to create positive habits starting right now. What would you say is the most important habit for happiness?

    “The power of negative thinking” is something I talk about when I give speeches. No one has heard that phrase, but everyone is familiar with the results of negative thinking—stewing over minor slights and inconveniences, being snippy with the ones you love, and general unhappiness. When we learn that our thinking has everything to do with our emotions, we can be happier by recognizing when our thoughts are running away from us, bringing ourselves back into the present moment, and reminding ourselves not to sweat the small stuff and to be grateful for what we have.

    You’ve written, “You cannot heal what you don’t acknowledge.” Why do you think we choose not to acknowledge our pain?

    I think the reason we choose not to acknowledge our pain is because it can be uncomfortable to do so. Sometimes we sweep past events under the rug so we don’t have to see them, or be reminded by them. For most of my life, I’ve swept the pain of being bullied under the rug. I thought if I didn’t think about it then it never happened. I would associate feelings of shame with being bullied. So, if I didn’t acknowledge the bullying, then I didn’t have to acknowledge the shame either. What I didn’t realize was the impact the bullying had on me. It affected my self-confidence in most areas of my life. It was only when I addressed the bullying, that I was able to improve my confidence—and my happiness.

    One section of your book is titled “Learn to Live without Asterisks.” What does that mean exactly?

    It’s about not setting on limits on how we think our lives should be. Asterisks are typically associated with limitations, restrictions, or conditions. We can get mired down with how we should do something, rather than following our heart. For example, “I want to write a book, but I should spend more time with my family.” You know what I did? I asked my family. They told me to follow my dream and write. On my last day in this world, I won’t have an asterisk next to the goal of writing a book!

    When you first began your journey many years ago, how long did you think your journey throughout Asia would last? Did you map out a plan to cover numerous martial arts throughout various nations back then?

    No, I didn’t map out anything. As my master said, “If you want to make the gods laugh, make a plan.” You don’t even know what all the options are or what difficulties or opportunities will present themselves. So, you just go and follow as the road reveals itself. Half the martial arts and some of the languages I have studied since coming to Asia, I had never heard of back in Montreal.

    What was your motivation for travel?

    I thought that was on most people minds. It was in mine, at least; I mean, who doesn’t dream of “one day I’ll travel the world?” I traveled for sixteen months through South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, mostly by myself albeit with some friends from home at certain points — and not to mention the countless friends I made along the way.

    What did you bring with you for your trips?

    I break everything into two bags that convert into shorts and pants, a week of underwear and socks, five t-shirts, a quick dry towel, toiletries, money, passport. The usual. That doesn’t seem like much, but I was mindful I was not on a “vacation,” but on a “way of life” for over a year, which would include doing laundry regularly. You only really need a week’s worth of stuff, in terms of what you MUST have. I also brought my laptop, and my cameras, all stored safely (and hidden) in a lockable portable PacSafe, but that’s just what I needed to keep my blog up.

    What advice would you give to someone organizing a long term trip around the world?

    Plan the gist of your journey, but don’t over plan. If you do, you’ll set up expectations of yourself that may or may not be met — most likely the latter because of many, many unforeseen factors — and you’ll just end up being disappointed. If you have the luxury of time on your hands, just live in the moment, let your current situation lead you to the next.

    What did you learn about yourself on your sixteen month world trip?

    I essentially learned that I am the same guy wherever I am, and that I’m happy with who I am as a person. That’s not to say I was transformed by the amazing experiences I had; they did transform me in the sense that my desires of seeing things and doing things were satisfied. The people and experiences have taught me a great deal.

    How did you afforded all this travel?

    I saved up at teaching martial arts in my school for a few years and then closed it. That’s the simple answer. It also doesn’t cost as much as a lot of people think. Aside from the flights, I spend less on any given day than I would sitting at home paying utilities, car insurance, parking tickets (I get a lot of parking tickets). If you visit regions like Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and most of Africa — and you’re willing to rough it a little — you can get by five dollars a day.

    Will you give some advice to a first time traveler, where should I go?

    I always recommend Southeast Asia. It’s good for a bunch of reasons. Most of them hinge on the assumption that you’re young, broke, and hail from a westernized culture. Stepping out of your comfort zone is really important — seeing whole other ways of living. Kung Fu gives me an opportunity to see places I’d never get to otherwise. I love to travel. In December I started the round-the-world trip. Started in Vietnam. That was May of 2003. Came home in August, then left for Africa a year later. I came home 6 months and 76 flights later, in June of 2006. My last trip was in Seattle in September of 2004 few days after landing.

    How many countries have you been to?

    At last count: 80.

    How long did you stay in each place?

    Anywhere from a couple days to a week. Usually long enough to actually see and experience some stuff, but rarely as long as I would’ve liked.

    Have you ever been robbed or mugged?

    I had my wallet stolen on a train in Italy. And, full disclosure, I caught a kid with his hand in my pocket at the Thai/Cambodian border and experienced a botched pick-pocketing in Vietnam that yielded only my free map of Saigon. There was an awkward moment, we all looked at each other in confusion, then the kids ran off.

    How many languages do you speak?

    So far, I have studied five languages and speak four fluently; French, English, Chinese, and Spanish. I didn’t finish studying Italien and Vietnamese but I am going to.

    There is a lot of talk about the martial arts of mainland China focusing too much on the sport and health aspect. Did you find this to be true?

    The mainland government focuses most all of its support on performance Wushu. Traditional martial arts are all but neglected. Fortunately, the trend in recent years has been toward more tolerance and acceptance by the powers that be for the traditional and combat oriented styles. Whereas not too many years ago teachers of the traditional arts had to teach in secrecy, they are now able to teach publicly and even travel abroad to teach. Also, the recent proliferation of Sanshou full contact tournaments is, I think, an important development is the preservation of true martial arts. Modern Wushu is a fine sport and is beautiful to watch, but it is misnamed; arts without fighting cannot by definition be considered martial arts.

    Does PRO LEI TAI plan on creating a “minor league” so that guys who are not up to Professional Lei Tai can be bred into star athletes?

    All the other shows out there act as minor leagues for the LEI TAI. Guys get their experience and make a living in the other shows, and if they are successful enough we bring them into the LEI TAI.

    Would PRO LEI TAI ever consider a pride grand prix style tournament for a LEI TAI title?

    Tournaments are cool on paper. But in reality, fighters always end up getting injured and dropping out, or it’s not fair because one guy had an easy match, while another guy has a war that goes the distance, and then they have to fight each other.

    Do you see yourself ever settling down and getting married?

    Absolutely. I’m a romantic guy, and I am really looking forward to starting a family.

    What’s your all-time favorite fight movie?

    Enter the Dragon and Fearless.

    What songs do you listen to when training?

    I listen all kind of music, but I specially love house music.

    Currently, what is your favorite form or exercise to practice and why?

    After many years of practice, research, and experience, I have lost my potential and capability to perform external styles to a physically strong level. Whenever I get injured now, I recover very slowly. This has made me turn my focus to training in Taijiquan and Qigong.

    The internal arts disciplines the mind and body. They also train sensitivity to Qi and the ability to control and generate Qi. The feeling of internal arts is much deeper and harder to achieve than just about all external styles. It is a very unique and rewarding feeling because the only way to experience it is through diligent practice, and it keeps evolving into something much more the deeper you get. I enjoy the depth of this feeling very much. It is very deep, profound, and endless in knowledge, feeling, and creativity.

    Nowadays, Internal arts is definitely my favorite form of exercise, because it helps me maintain some level of my physical strength. I believe regular physical movements are the key to slowing down the aging process, staying healthy, and keeping away from sicknesses. As my body continues to age, I will gradually be concentrating more and more on developing a deeper and more refined practice in internal styles only.

    Do you really read all your email, and if so do you reply to any of it?

    Pretty much, yeah. I try to respond to all of it, but it’s gotten a lot harder lately. Sometimes, on a whim, I’ll write back immediately. But most emails go straight into a folder that has swelled way beyond a thousand. I maybe sift through a dozen or so each day.

    What are you the most proud of all of your accomplishment?

    I am particularly proud of my students and disciples for being a true pioneers and fighters of the professional sports of Lei Tai fighting and getting it done when no one thought it was possible. For those who allow themselves to cop out by using excuses to not come to training need only to meet them and witness their example of perseverance.

    You have received many awards. Of all your achievements, is there one which you cherish the most?

    As you mentioned, I have received many different awards from several different organizations and I certainly cherish them all. If I had to pick out one, I would have to say that becoming the Chairman of the Board of Pro Lei Tai and the sport is the biggest honor, because I accept the position on behalf of all of those who work behind the scene so hard to promote the Lei Tai Fighting. I am proud to promote and carry the legacy of Lei Tai Fighting on for generation to come.

    Can you recall one moment in your life where you sit back and think, “Wow, I cannot believe I put myself through such mental or physical pain?” and why it sticks out in your mind as a defining moment?

    Honestly, there were a lot of painful or harrowing adventures. But because it is your real life and not a movie, there is never a definite start or end point for any event in your life. So, when these things are happening, they sometimes seem less epic than when you retell them. In my book, Enter Francombat, I talked a lot about how dirty Shaolin was and how unhygienic it was living there. In Taiwan we trained from 5:30am till about 6:00pm. That is a brutal workout day, but you just do it. Afterwards it looks like a lot. At the time, you just get through as best you can.

    Do you have any advice for martial artist reading this?

    The first advice I give is: it is true that it is important to have a dream and to believe, but it’s even more important to be realistic. When one chooses to become a professional fighter, be aware that there are few chosen. One can dream for years to be a prize fighter but it may never happen. However, this young woman who dreamed of fighting may become a great coach. This young man who wanted to make films could become a great promoter. You have to have a passion, and do everything to achieve your goal but always staying open to other things. Life often reserve beautiful surprises.

    I can only say, as the Master told me, just keep training. If you honestly apply yourself with full vigor you will reach the highest levels of training. Masters are born from students who never quit. Everyone has their own talents and their own skills, and this just comes with hard work and training. I will end with a quote from the Master This is the best advice I know: “You should not try to be the best but the best you can be.”

    You are self-made man and claim one does not need to work hard, but work smart. Sounds simple, but please give us some details.

    I like to encourage people to hone in on their clients needs and focus on what exactly it is that they are looking to buy. It all goes back to listening. I learned early on that the approach of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks is a really futile exercise and a waste of precious time. Instead, focus on a more tactical approach. Learn what works and what doesn’t by trial and error and adjust your strategy until you hit pay dirt. Once you have a formula that helps you find success and become more productive at work, stick to it until it needs more adjusting. The world changes every day and what worked yesterday might not work in three days. There are good days and bad days; everyone has them.

    Remember that the rate of change is never constant, don’t be discouraged in down days, instead eat some comfort food and think about what you could do to make your work easier on you. Meditate in the morning while you are laying in bed between snoozes and visualize yourself accomplishing your goals. If it worked for me I believe it can work for anyone.

    If someone desires a career in the business world, do you think a college degree is a must or is learning by doing the way to go?

    I chose a path that became more treacherous as time went on and many doors were closed on me for the simple fact that I did not graduate. I would encourage everyone to research the school they are planning to attend before signing up. In theory College prepares you for the real world you will face once you graduate and will prevent you from making costly mistakes. I encourage everyone looking at finance or business to sign up for a good school and finding a mentor. The world becomes more competitive every day and I know of many places that pile resumes based on grades and throw out anything under a 3.5 GPA because there is such a wide pool of talent to pick from. Go to school and get good grades.

    What’s the greatest lesson a human being should learn?

    That since day one, He/she’s already had everything she/he needs within himself/herself. It’s the world that convinced her/him he/she did not.

    Men especially seem to suffer from burn out syndrome in their late thirties, early forties. It seems many have the goal just to make it big as fast as possible and then to be done with work in their mid forties. Is that aligned with your life philosophy or do you believe in a life that is always full of a balance of work ( that should be enjoyed ) and play?

    This really goes back to my work smart not hard philosophy. Although it is hard to balance work and life because finance is so demanding,  you have to be on call 24/7 to make something happen, you need to take vacations and enjoy the world that is here today. Taking a vacation and changing your environment is important to decompress. Bad stress usually comes from the downs in the cycles of markets or industries. Shifting your focus to new ideas helps decompress. The people that get into business to only focus on making money and become greedy are the people that burn out. I don’t think I could ever be just done with work. I enjoy what I do and I make sure what I do adds some type of value to society. The business world brings different challenges every day and always keeps things interesting.

    At the age of 17, you promised yourself to become a millionaire and you are now?

    In fact, I always wanted to play. Around 4 or 5 years, I had heard my oncle, that he was a millionaire. It had struck me. I knew he started from nothing and I told myself that everything was possible and that I would do the same. So I told myself that one day I would be rich enough to be free of my time and have the money to do whatever I liked in life, and I succeeded.

    Are you rich enough to be able to retire now?

    I could do it because I am able to invest and grow my money. I ‘m already a multi-millionaire I don’t need much more. However, I do not want to stop. My ultimate goal is to make the most money to reinvest in causes dear to my heart. To have a healthy society, we must invest to young people, and I want to help young entrepreneurs start businesses. I am also interested in the culture. I want to change the current business model for Quebec culture to survive, it is profitable and we can also live.

    What is your ultimate goal?

    Succeeding my teacher is a great honor, but it carries a great burden. My ultimate goal is to continue to learn, because there is no end in learning until we die. Learning is limitless, so I simply look forward each day to learning more and enjoying what I have learned so far. As for goals I would have to say it is to improve myself as a person and to perfect all that I have learned. As I mentioned earlier, I hope to find more committed students for the upcoming 5-year training program. Before I retire, I want to teach as many sincerely dedicated and committed students as I can to the highest level possible, through this program and the environment at the center. My goal is to provide as much as I can to these students such that they can continue developing their training and techniques independently on their own after they finish. My goal is to train a group of masters instead of students. In order to become a master, one must have a deep feeling of the art. This can only be achieved through experience, experience obtained through a rigorous and strict training regimen. The graduates of the center must have knowledge that is beyond the understanding of the average martial arts instructor. Only then, can they be a creator of new skills. Remember, arts are creative, and this creative capability can only come from a deeply rooted feeling, history, and experience with them. I also want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say “because of you, I didn’t give up.

    It sounds like you have the fire in your belly. Where do you get all your energy from?

    I don’t know really, I guess I have this hunger inside of me. I go without sleep sometimes and don’t eat, I work 16–18 hours a day. I always been like this.

    Why are you really giving your money away—what’s in it for you?

    On one level, I think the answer is obviously no. It’s not because I think about how I’ll be remembered.

    There are two reasons to do something like this. One is that it’s meaningful work. I think that’s a basic responsibility of anyone with a lot of money. Once you’ve taken care of yourself and your children, the best use of extra wealth is to give it back to society. I come from families that believed in leaving the world better than you found it. My parents made sure my siblings and I took the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church to heart. Bill’s mom was known, and his dad still is known, for showing up to advocate for a dizzying number of important causes and support more local organizations than you can count.

    The other reason is that I have fun doing it. It’s rare to have a job where you get to have both a big impact and a lot of fun. I had it with Francombat, and I have it with the foundation. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the bulk of my time. Of course, these values are not unique to the three of us. Millions of people give back by volunteering their time and donating money to help others. We are, however, in the more unusual position of having a lot of money to donate. Our goal is to do what our parents taught us and do our part to make the world better. I have been doing this work, more or less full-time, for 18 years. That’s half of my life. It’s almost the entirety of our children’s lives. By now the foundation’s work has become inseparable from who I am. I do the work because it’s my life. I’ve tried to pass on values to my children by talking with them about the foundation’s work, and, as they’ve gotten older, taking them with us on trips so they can see it for themselves. This is who we chose to be.

    Did you have anything like a big American dream?

    As a child I would watch the movie Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and day dream about walking in the streets of New York and working in the trading pits, there was something about the motion creating emotion. When I moved to the United States I mentioned my dreams to friends and they would laugh at me.

    What does make you mad in this world?

    When people don’t realize their true potential it really p!sses me off! and when people don’t understand that they can achieve everything they put their focus and energy on, no matter how big a dream is.

    How would you like to be remember?

    Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream. I would like to be remembered as somebody who envisioned a different world, reshaped the world in that image and loved living in it until the end,” he once said. I want people to say, ‘He was smart; he had his own style. He can’t be compared to others. He set the tone and pace for his own destiny. I’m a kid who dreamed the dreams and made them come true.”

    What does the future hold for Franco Richard?

    I believe in less talk and more action. Over the past few years I have not been able to promote Lei Tai Seminar as much as I would like due to my duties with Pro Lei Tai™. I have traveled and met many famous people and earned their respect by doing more and talking less. I plan to continue training, studying, teaching in my schools and doing seminars around the world. My upbringing has made me appreciate, and not take for granted, everything that is happening to me. When I was younger, I just wished somebody would show me how to accomplish everything I wanted. Today I am glad to be sharing my stories and showing people how I live so they can accomplish their own goals and dreams.

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