A Fighter’s Life
In between training, Eugene also works as a stunt actor, performing in local television productions, and is a freelance martial arts instructor and personal trainer. His clientele includes working adults and schoolchildren, as some parents send their kids to be toughened up and learn martial arts, while Eugene also gets engaged by schools to conduct after-school classes.
One of his most memorable and gratifying experiences as an instructor came at the MINDS Woodlands Gardens School, where he taught wushu to autistic students and came away impressed and moved. “It was only a five-minute demonstration, but the students really wanted to learn and had the spirit to train,” he says.
“Despite having represented Singapore in Southeast Asian, Asian and world competitions, I’ve received little recognition. The sport is practically unknown here.” Reflecting on the physical demands of sanda – he previously missed a year of competition due to an irregular heartbeat – he noted that he had around nine or 10 years left in the sport, and that he hadn’t given up on making further breakthroughs. “Other fighters are usually taller than me – and they have a longer reach,” he says wistfully. “But then you need to counter that by being quicker and fitter.”
Imparting More Than Skills
Mindful that the odds are low, given the modest profile of the sport, Eugene is still hopeful of finding and nurturing dedicated disciples with a genuine passion for sanda. “That is the reason why I choose to become a martial arts coach. Not only can I inspire my students to train and compete, but also guide them with values to become better people like how martial arts did for me,” he says. “With values such as discipline and perseverance taught, I hope to impart my knowledge as a coach and athlete to my students, in hope that they learn the best of combat sport.” In time to come, he hopes to put his marketing degree to good use and embark on a mission to raise awareness of sanda on a larger scale. In the meantime, he is juggling training, teaching, stunt acting and dietary prudence.
“I haven’t had Hokkien mee for five months now,” he shares with a laugh, rueful about his little-known sacrifice in the pursuit of sporting success.