Today, Coach Rodney King stands at the forefront of mindful leadership, certified as a nature therapy guide and ecopsychologist. At the School of Crazy Monkey, he masterfully blends these disciplines to craft a martial arts journey that equally prioritizes practical self-preservation skills and the cultivation of inner peace. This unique integration results in a modern martial arts experience that not only prepares students for physical confrontations but also equips them with the serenity and resilience needed to navigate life's complex terrains.
HOMELESS AT 17 TO WORLD RENOWNED MARTIAL ARTS TEACHER
Navigating the treacherous streets of Johannesburg’s South Side housing estates as a young man, Rodney faced challenges most of us can’t even imagine. But where many saw insurmountable hurdles, he saw opportunities for growth and learning
The streets weren’t Rodney’s only adversaries. As a youth, he endured daily challenges from neighbourhood gangs and relentless school bullies. However, the harshest tribulations came from within his own home, where he bore the brunt of both mental and physical torment from his mother. This tumultuous upbringing culminated in him being cast out into the urban jungle of Johannesburg at the tender age of 17. Finding himself homeless and sleeping on the inner city streets of Johannesburg, he found solace in the worlds of Viktor Frankl:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Despite the adversity, Rodney found a renewed sense of purpose and structure in the South African military during a time when service was obligatory. Here, his innate survival instincts were honed and refined. He rapidly rose through the ranks, serving with distinction as a platoon sergeant and leading hand-to-hand combat training within the military police’s prestigious close protection unit.
Post-military life brought new challenges. With no high school diploma, his prospects might have seemed bleak to the casual observer. However, Rodney parlayed his unique skill set into running security for some of Johannesburg’s most challenging nightclub doors. His dedication to personal growth took him to Thailand, where he trained under Muay Thai legend Apidej Sit Hirun. Recognizing Rodney’s prowess, Hirun did not just train him but granted him the rare honour of teaching under his esteemed name. All the while, and into his early 20s, Rodney trained under the watchful eye of South African boxing legend Willy Toweel.
This foundation led to the creation of Crazy Monkey Defense, a revolutionary martial art system that became a sensation in South Africa. As Rodney’s reputation grew, so did his skill set, earning him a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu from the renowned Rigan Machado, along with four subsequent degrees.
His unique survival-focused approach attracted international attention. From the US Army to Slovak and Thailand special forces, elite units sought his training. Corporate giants like Google, AirBnB, and Facebook, as well as companies like Singapore Airlines, brought him in to impart his insights. His expertise even lit up the stage at the 2019 DISPAX International Conference in London, emphasizing the critical role of mindfulness in airline security.
But Rodney’s journey is about more than physical defence. He’s a testament to internal resilience and growth. With determination, he delved into academia, securing degrees in psychology, health psychology, mindful-embodied leadership, and leading innovation and change. As a leading expert in ‘Mindful-Embodied Leadership’ (the focus of his PhD) and as an ‘Ecopsychologist’, Rodney brings a unique approach to martial artistry that integrates both academic rigour and cutting-edge science in human flourishing.
For over three decades, Rodney has committed himself to the noble endeavour of teaching genuine survival skills. Beyond physical combat, he emphasizes thriving in the adversities of daily life. At the heart of his teachings lies a profound message: equip yourself with the skills and mindset to not only face life’s challenges but to master them.
The outcome: You will master inner peace as well as the physical prowess of a warrior.
Coach Rodney has taught his programs to some of the worlds most preeminent real world warriors.