THE only British member of the performing Shaolin monks, who broke his leg last week, has pledged to train future generations for martial arts Olympic glory.
Matthew Ahmet, one of a troupe of “kung fu monks” who wow audiences across the world with their implausible feats, says he wants to set up a training school for children, but needs help.
For the past five months Mr Ahmet, 20, originally of Edmonton, has been holding classes at the Grundy Park Leisure Centre in some of the arts he learned over three years at the Shaolin temple in China.
He and a band of children from six upwards recently finished a gruelling schedule of 27 performances at schools and open days in and around Enfield.
The performances combine traditional animal movements with dazzling sequences of mid-air twists and backflips, some of which involve springing off the head.
Mr Ahmet said: “I want to help the kids make something out of their lives. When they get to a certain level they can make money, it becomes a career choice for them. I have already applied for Britain’s Got Talent in 2010, with about 20 kids, and to make a show. I’m thinking some of these kids could train to be in the Olympics.”
Mum Angela Anderson, of Cheshunt, whose daughter Iyanu, 11 and son Oni 8 are part of the troupe said the experience had taught them discipline and confidence.
She said: “I really think what he has done for my children is unbelievable. They were complete beginners six months ago, now Oni is flipping out of bed every morning.“ Last week disaster struck in the last stages of the final performance, when Mr Ahmet caught his toe on a clump of grass, broke his leg and dislocated his foot. None of the children were hurt.
It has left him unable to perform for the rest of the year, forcing him to drop the Shaolin Monks’ Wheel of Life tour, planned for the autumn, in which he has appeared for the past few years.
Mr Ahmet, who maintains that he develops children’s strength and flexibility to minimise the risk of them getting injured, says now that he wants to raise money for a set of gym mats, a van and the hire of a proper venue and create a training school to realise his dream and to prevent this from happening again.
He said: “What I want to prove – and of course I am very young – is that if you dedicate yourself to something you can make something of it. I am not some amazing guy, I am training hard and training them properly. And we have been blowing people away like nobody’s business.“ Anyone willing to provide help with fundraising, promotion, or free transport should email him on firstname.lastname@example.org