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From Taekwondo Champion To Hollywood Stuntman: Interview With Martial Artist Clayton Barber

Nexus: We have Clay Barber on the phone and Clay Barber is a former teammate of mine. He&37413;&27290; a former U.S. National team member, former U.S. National team captain; he&37413;&27290; won medals &37413;?multiple medals &37413;?around the world and today we&37413;&27289;e going to have a little interview with Clay. So, Clay, for today we&37413;&27289;e going to be focused a little bit on your career and what martial arts has meant to you and I just like to ask you a little bit about how if you wanted to talk about how you got started in martial arts and taekwondo.

Clayton Barber: Sure, no problem! Basically, when I was a young boy I used to watch those old Kung Fu flicks that Bruce Lee put out and drove my father mad basically. So but this is about it &37413;?I watched them every single day. So my dad used to work in a movie theater in downtown Dallas and that was his job; he was a policeman and he would take me on the weekends to watch those kung fu movies and they would play in those theaters. And one day I said, &37413;&28114;ad, you know, I want to take karate.&37413;?Of course, I don&37413;&27291; what it&37413;&27290; called at this time. You read here know, I just said karate or kung fu or whatever. And he&37413;&27290; like, &37413;&28149;eah, yeah, yeah. Whatever, son,&37413;?like that. &37413;&28138;ure, sure, sure.&37413;?So I bugged him and bugged him until he said, &37413;&28116;ine.&37413;?And then one day he dropped me off and we went down to the Taekwondo School and it happened to be Lee&37413;&27290; taekwondo in Mesquite, Texas and the rest is history. I walked in and on the spot signed a lifetime membership and I never looked back.

Nexus: Wow! So when you walked in, your dad walked you in; you guys went to the right school the first time which is, wow, what&37413;&27290; really some kind of divine providence there. And then on top of it you signed a lifetime&37413;&59097;igned up for a lifetime membership right on the spot.

Clayton Barber: Yeah, exactly. At that time&37413;&59087;t was quite a while ago; it was about 30 years ago. It was $500 and at the time I think that&37413;&27290; really saw the passion and what I was trying to do. I was doing other sports at the time. I was doing soccer and I had a lot of energy and I was trying to look for an outlet and when I walked in, Master Lee kind&37413;&27267; saw that. His name is Chang Sik Lee father of Dong Lee of Lee&37413;&27290; taekwondo. He saw that, so on the spot&37413;&59079;nd he was a small businessman trying to do an start-up kind of company and he said, &37413;&28127;ook, I&37413;&27282;l give you a lifetime membership for $500.&37413;?And we bought it hook-line and sinker and my dad really took to it and he said, &37413;&28116;ine.&37413;?And I never looked back. So, to put it this way it was a good investment for my father and a good investment for my life.

Nexus: And so how old were you when you signed up?

Clayton Barber: I was about 10 years old.

Nexus: And did you train with and &37413;&59086;ow old is Dong?

Clayton Barber: He&37413;&27290; the same age as me, we&37413;&27289;e both 42.

Nexus: So you signed up and Dong Lee was there and then you and Dong, you guys meet like right off the bat or how did it go?

Clayton Barber: Yes, we met right off the bat and he was there. It was funny, because I went into the office and while we were in the office meeting Master Lee and everything Dong was kicking the bag. And as they began to talk (Clayton&37413;&27290; father and Master Lee) and things like that, I kind of snuck out of the office and I went over there and Dong was kicking the bag and I started kicking the bag and I started kicking the bag with him. And it was funny because I had on these real baggy red soccer shorts and I was just a little pip squeak we just started kicking the bag. And from that point on, we really went from white belt to black belt together and we were about to leave the original two students of that school.

Nexus: Wow!

Clayton Barber: It was quite serendipitous to say the least and it was a great opportunity and I kind of knew but I didn&37413;&27291; know it at the time but there was something special about it and I remember from that day on I went there every single day for the rest of my life essentially.

Nexus: So that is just fantastic because Master Lee &37413;?Grand Master Lee, I should say &37413;?has built quite a dynasty there in Dallas, Texas, has so very good schools; it&37413;&27290; produced a number of very good athletes. So that&37413;&27290; interesting that you and Dong all kind of grew up together in the school because they&37413;&27289;e like brothers then huh?

Clayton Barber: Yes, we are. I always Master Lee my Korean Father. A lot of times I would sleep at school or ask to spend the night at Dong&37413;&27290; house and we would watch Bruce Lee movies and kind of memorized all the movies word for word. Master Lee would feed us Korean food and it was my first day with the kimchi and it was&37413;?He&37413;&27271; always tell me, he said, &37413;&28122;f you eat your kimchi you&37413;&27282;l become faster.&37413;?So I went out and bought a bunch of kimchi and started eating at home. If you have ever eaten kimchi is it quite has a smell and I brought it into my house and my dad was kind of blew a lid and eventually threw it out because it&37413;&27290; really smelly.

Nexus: [Laughter] Yeah.

Clayton Barber: So I kept telling my dad, I said, &37413;&28127;ook, if you eat this, dad, it&37413;&27290; going to make you faster.&37413;?He said, &37413;&28133;kay, sure. Here, eat an orange.&37413;?br />
Nexus: [Laughter] That&37413;&27290; funny! So let me ask you, Clay, I mean you&37413;&27293;e been training for a lifetime and martial arts Is definitely a part of your life and I usually tell my students that particularly when somebody joins, they join for one or two reasons and when they stay in it their reasons, go from 2 to 4, and 4 to 8 and 8 to 16, et cetera. Until there&37413;&27290; one part&37413;&59098;here&37413;&27290; a time in your life where a switch kind of happens where you can&37413;&27291; even remember your reasons anymore. I mean they become so multiplied and so numerous that it becomes part of you and you can&37413;&27291; separate yourself from the art. And so with that in mind, how do you feel&37413;&59082;o you remember that time where it became&37413;&59093;r taekwondo became all inclusive for you or became so much a part of you that it helped to define who you are?

Clayton Barber: Yeah, I did. I mean, obviously, when I walked in the door (Lee&37413;&27290; Taekwondo) like I said earlier, I mean it was&37413;?I knew that&37413;&27290; what I wanted to do. So I found something I couldn&37413;&27291; do. I was small&37413;&59084;or sort of the typical American sports like football and basketball and it was something that I can individually take away all my energies and put into, do you know what I mean? And at the time, I was just wanted to go full steam ahead; I didn&37413;&27291; really quite know that I would be there for the rest of my life at the time. But as it went on and went on and went on, I started to sort of take to it characteristic of my life, learning the very original sort of basic tenets of it: discipline, respect&37413;?Like there&37413;&27290; a plan to it and things like that. It really started to form the character of whom I was and that&37413;&27290; what I liked: a place like Master Lee&37413;&27290; and he was becoming a father-figure – I had two influential guys in my life &37413;?my regular father and then Master Lee; between those two men and with taekwo

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