Dave Briggs: So going back a bit more towards your training, over the years you’ve had the distinct honour of training with some of the most impressive and talented martial artists in the world, who have had the biggest impressions on you personally?
Geoff Thompson: I would say, when I was in America teaching with Chuck Norris, I met Benny ‘The Jet’ and he had a profound effect on me, and I never really expected him to, as I never really followed the kickboxing, and because when I went over to America I was initially more excited about meeting the Gracies and the Machados than anything else. When they said Benny was going to be teaching as well I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t think that much of it, but when I met him he had a profound effect on me because he was such a humble man. I watched and studied him while I was there and he had time for everybody, he’s legendary for giving, and that truly inspired me. Your influences are very important and he was a very strong influence on me, almost inadvertently. I watched how he was with high grades and low grades and it was the same, whoever stopped him he would stand and talk to them, he would have time for them and he gave so much. I just loved that about him, I really admired him. I met the Machados out there, who were kind enough to do some private work with me, and I was also really impressed by their humility, they were really great as well. Rick Young has had a massive effect on me, because he is such a high ability, but also very humble and very giving. I admire that more than anything in people, if people say someone can have a fight, that doesn’t impress me fighters grow on trees, but when can have a fight and be humble, that’s a great polarisation, it takes a lot of ability to develop that. So these people have inspired me to do the same. Peter Consterdine has obviously had a great effect on me. Peter picked up on my stuff when nobody else was really taking any notice and took me up to the British scene. He didn’t really care what people thought and I believe he lost a couple of friends by associating with me, because of what some people mistakenly thought about me. I’ve grown to love Peter very much and I admire the fact that he speaks his mind without fear of reprisal, he doesn’t worry about what people think so Peter’s had a great effect on me. I’ve trained with Neil Adams, again its like a stuck record really, but Neil Adams was the same. He’s probably the greatest grappler on the planet, but I’ve never met anyone so humble. I go in there, he’s at the kettle, he’s making me a cup of tea, he’s running round. I trained a year full time with Neil with his international classes and he never took a penny off me, and its just when I see him, he’s just an awesome man and he’s had a great effect on me. Dave Turton also has a great effect, because Dave is Mr Knowledge, or Mr Pepperoni as Sharon calls him ’cause he’s a bit of an animal, and he’s helped me tremendously. He’s helped me to become a more holistic martial artist. I love meeting people like Matthew Clempner, who is a giant in Martial Arts. People like the very charismatic Trevor Roberts. Trevor and his son Brendon are lovely people again much more experienced than me, they’ve done much more than me. People think I’ve done a lot, I’ve done nothing compared to someone like Trevor Roberts, they’re awesome characters, hardly anybody knows them, and that’s a shame because they are just incredible people and there is a lot of people like that.
I met Chuck Norris this year. I was invited back over to teach for Chuck Norris at their Annual Seminar. I spent some time with him and he was the same, he was really nice, a lovely bloke, very gentle – brilliant at what he does, obviously. I did an interview with him over there, and I sat with him for about half an hour doing this interview and someone brought in his dinner. All the while he’s being interviewed he never once looked at his chips, he never once looked at his dinner. You know when you are starving and you kind of look at your chips and hint that its time to go, he never once did. I think if I’d have stayed there all day, he would have happily stayed there too. I looked at him and I thought this is how I want to be. I aspire to be like someone like Chuck Norris, not that I want to be an actor, but I want to be a gentle person and a giving person and become legendary for giving, not legendary for kicking people’s heads in because that’s pretty ugly and its not how I want to express myself or be defined. Its about being gentle, so yes, he had a massive effect on me. There are numerous others, I hope I haven’t forgotten anybody, if I have I apologise, there are lots of other people like John Johnson who was my instructor. My own students inspire me because they are of such a high standard, they are all really great martial artists they are all very gentle people. There are so many, I’ve been lucky to meet some giants. I was in Las Vegas doing the Chuck Norris seminar, I was over there with a friend of mine called Ian McLean and we walked down Las Vegas strip and I remember thinking ‘what the f**k are we doing here?’ You know, two Coventry kids walking down the Las Vegas strip to have a cup of tea with Chuck Norris, and I was just thinking ‘it doesn’t get much better than this’. Its ironic that I never got any of this until I renounced violence and moved away from it. I’m also aware that I’ve got one or two critics and people that think I’m only saying this, but anybody that knows me knows that is what I believe. I’m not saying I don’t trip up now and again, I don’t make mistakes, but even superman trips up on his cape, you know, even monkeys fall out of trees. I do make mistakes but I am trying hard to become a better person. But walking down that Las Vegas strip, me and Sharon went to the Grand Canyon, a very spiritual place, and you’re just thinking, this is what I wanna do, I don’t wanna be stuck in some shit hole in Coventry. You sit by someone like Chuck Norris and you look at him, and what I love about him is the fact that he’ll say ‘you can do this Geoff’. Its not like he’s saying I’m special, if you look at the interview I did with him, he’s not saying he’s special – he’s saying he’s a hard worker with a dream, he focuses on something and does it.
This is your world, you can do what you want, you’re the only person out there that actually looks out your eyes. Have you ever sat there and thought that you are the only person out there looking through your eyes. What that tells me is its your world, or its my world, so if I want to change something or I want to do something then I will. I’ll just do it, and I’ve done that. I’ve been in the West End with my plays working with the Royal Corps. I’ve just got the development money for my first film. I’m doing the fight choreography on a West End play. I’m writing for several mainstream magazines, I travel the world, I get invited all over the world to teach. My book is going to be a number one best seller, I know this because its my world and its what I want, so I’ll make it happen, when you’re with people like Chuck Norris they allow you that, they say to you ‘you can do this’. He said to me when he went into acting that he was a shit actor, but you know, his heart was there and he had a dream and he just kept pushing and he made it happen. Everything was against him, there was something like 4000 actors out of work in Hollywood, the average actor was getting something like $5000 a year, and he was going in against people with vast amounts of experience, more than him and he still beat them all to the top, and it was because he believed it was his world and he could have it if he wanted it. He just had to keep knocking on doors until somebody said ‘yes’ and that’s what he did, and that’s why he’s the person he is now, he is more humble now than he was when he started. It didn’t matter what job they gave him on set, if they gave him a job sweeping the floor he was grateful for it, and people loved him for that and he got on. So what I’m saying is that I’ve realised that I can have whatever I want, and I intend to get it and part of what I want is helping other people get what they want too. When people ring me for advice I always try to give them advice. I try to get other people to get there as well because there is room at the top for everybody, its not a select few, anybody can get there, you’ve just got to believe it.