“A father holds his daughter’s hand for a short while, but he holds her heart forever."
For a dad, his daughter will always be the apple of his eye. Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Brown Belt, Charles Mak, definitely holds his own as a well-rounded martial artist, occasional competitor, and a tough but technical roll to all who partner him on the mats. However, when it comes to his daughter Therese, this is where you will see his soft and affectionate side emerge. Being able to introduce his daughter to BJJ has also been the icing on the cake, as it allows them to bond in a special way. In a continuation of our ‘FaMAly’ series, we talk to Charles about his background in martial arts, as well as his fond observations of his 7-year-old as she grapples through the practice of BJJ.
Charles was fortunate to be introduced to martial arts at a young age, and was exposed to BJJ long before it became “trendy”.
"Like many who were into martial arts in the 90’s, I learnt about how effective BJJ was from watching Royce Gracie in the early Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). However, there was almost a complete absence of BJJ instruction at the time, so I ended up doing Judo instead. I competed a bit for my university and enjoyed it, but what I really wanted to do was BJJ.”
"I eventually found a class in Manchester, under a Blue Belt. This was in around 2001. I also attended a seminar by Royce Gracie that year. We were all starstruck and asked him questions such as, “What do you eat for breakfast, Royce?”, but he was very accommodating.”
Due to work and school commitments, Charles put a pause on his training, only resuming regularly in 2010. In a growing local community filled with mostly young and upcoming BJJ practitioners, it is encouraging to be able to hear from those who have stood the test of time in their training over the years, in spite of the changing commitments in their lives.
Therese was enrolled into BJJ classes at another gym previously, but making the switch to FaMA was a choice that Charles did not regret. "FaMA ticked a lot of the boxes for what I thought would be a healthy place for my daughter to train at; a good mix of students from different cultures and age groups, Black Belt instructors with integrity and good character, a supportive family gym vibe, and an open-door policy.”
Not every child will like the sport the same way her parent does, and that’s okay. However, Therese finds joy in showing up for classes. “She enjoys the live rolling aspect of BJJ,” Charles shares, “She looks forward most to porrada (Brazilian slang for “hard training” or “brawling” - in this context, it refers to sparring)."
He also notes in amusement her own childlike views and approach to the martial art.
"Her favourite technique seems to be sprawling and taking the back, but has no guard and seems to think that a mount escape counts as a sweep. She also recently developed her own version of a collar drag and taught me how to do it.”
“At home, she takes my back if I’m not alert."
Charles describes his daughter Therese as a gift from God, named after Saint Therese of Lisieux. The affection he has for her is unmistakable in the way he shares this, but there is no surprise there. This is also felt whenever he watches her from the sides during her BJJ class.
“I have learned to stop pressuring her by trying to coach from the sidelines,” he confesses, “And let her learn the way we all do - by making her own mistakes on the mat.”
While the father and daughter duo continue to connect through this common interest, Charles is aware that eventually, she will have to grow to become her own person - including the possibility that she might not continue to pursue Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as she moves through life. However, he is just grateful for the present, and that she has fun and enjoys the process.
In any case, the legacy of his passion for the martial art won’t be ceasing quite yet.
"My (younger) son will probably start formal BJJ classes next year. Meanwhile, we (already) roll around a bit at home."
FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts Established in 2016, FaMA is a world-class martial arts academy located in the heart of the Central Business District in Singapore. Walking distance from Clarke Quay and Fort Canning MRT stations, FaMA’s main goal is to help people improve their lives through martial arts regardless of age or athletic capability. Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai Kickboxing, Kids Martial Arts and Fitness programs are led by experts in their respective fields. So, whether it is weight loss, a fun workout, camaraderie, competition training, or just to break a sweat, FaMA has something for the whole family.