Becoming a Karate World Champion with Rhys Linnett

In this Interview In Depth lesson, we’re going to study a portion of the episode: AE 427 – Interview: Becoming a Karate World Champion & Traveling the World with Rhys Linnett.

Read and listen to the full interview here.

How to complete this lesson:

  1. Listen & read
  2. Complete the quizzes

AE 427 – Interview: Becoming a Karate Champion & Travelling the World with Rhys Linnett

Difficulty: Intermediate

Red text – Slang

Blue text – Lesson vocab

Awesome, awesome, man. We should just quickly switch onto Karate, I guess. So, Rhys, can you tell me how on earth did you end up as a black belt in karate world champion, who is about to move to Dubai for, potentially, two years being a sensei over there? In your own dojo, is it? So, just give me the story and talk to me about what’s about to happen.

So, I’ve got this job in Dubai teaching kids that like after school care, so basically, is for a lot of expats that are working long hours and, you know, their kids are over there, you know, doing school and they just don’t have, you know… they’re going to put them into daycare, they want them to get something out whether it be sort of soccer, swimming, just general sports or for my aspect, karate. So, we’re going over there doing that and then with the opportunity to open up my own club within the company that I’m working for.

I got the job through a mate of mine that I met travelling overseas and competing from England and I just sort of put my name down and, you know, I had to go through all these interview processes and I actually didn’t think it was going to get the job and then, yeah, eventually, you know, three, four weeks ago, I found out I got the job. So, that’s just sort of fell in my lap a little bit, and it was just sort of fortunate that my mate was… obviously had the job there because it made it a lot easier, ’cause I’m quite good friends with him so, you know, he probably would have put in a good word for me, I’m assuming.

I mean, I suppose starting karate was probably from getting bullied at school. My mum was just, you know, sort of fed up with me coming home and, you know, kids generally are cruel to each other. So, having some sort of escape and somewhere that you feel confident within yourself, I suppose, is, you know, is quite good, and karate, I think every kid in their life and at least tries karate, you know, it’s one of those things that I think it’s like a… especially in any of the Westernised countries where it’s such a big thing, you know what I mean? And all the movies that you see and stuff like, everyone wants to sort of try it. So, I think it was bound for me to try it eventually, and, yeah, I just fell in love with it when I started, started competing, got really into it, was training like every day. I started doing, you know, Vic (Victoria) State Championships, started doing well in them, started doing National Championships, started doing well at them, then started going overseas, starting doing well in them, and then basically, yeah, just progression, and just working really hard for, you know, for big tournaments and just doing lots of preparation and, yeah, end up going to big tournaments and doing pretty well.

So, it’s been a long process. It didn’t just happen overnight. I mean, I’ve been doing Karate for nearly 13 years now, and it would have been probably four years were like the golden years for me, like, where I was winning lots of tournaments, going overseas, travelling for karate, going… you know, several different tournaments overseas and missing school and stuff like that. So, it was always really awesome for me, you know, being 15, going overseas, training with people and competing, and while my friends were at school, like, you know, doing exams and stuff like that and I would just get sort of pardoned for it and didn’t have to do them. So, it was always really cool for that aspect.

But, yeah, it just sort of… it sort of just, yeah, from bullying, I suppose, yeah, I just got involved in that, and it did really make me so much more confident in myself, and dealing with bullies in not just a physical way. You know, a lot of people think we learn karate to defend yourself and physically, you know, block a punch and punch someone back, but it’s more… I wouldn’t ever try to fight somebody with my hands and stuff like that, I fight them by, you know, I calm the situation down, walk away, because, I mean, I’ve been injured so many times and, you know, this is a big thing in Australia remember this this ‘one punch‘, you know, people can die, and it’s just… it’s not worth it, you know, to me. I do fighting for sport. I don’t need to do it when if I’m out at a bar with my friends, you know?

So, what is the ‘one punch’ thing exactly? Can you talk about that?

So, it’s basically a king hit where they punch someone from behind at the back of the head, and generally what happens is when you get knocked out, your brain hits your skull and then, after that, when you get hit again, so your head hitting the ground, is really, really bad for your brain. And a lot of people will wake up, feel fine, go to sleep, and never wake up again.


And it’s been a big thing they’ve cracked down… and I know in Sydney it’s really a big thing they‘ve cracked down on. That… you know, they’re really trying to get that one punch out of, you know… for people doing it, and they’re really trying to crack down on people doing it. I know if you… if anybody’s a boxing fan, if they see the boxer from Australia, Danny Green he’s a big supporter of (getting rid of) the one punch, where they’re really trying to eradicate it, and he speaks a lot about it after his fights and previously before his fights about it.

So, why do you think that is so common in like Australian, I guess, pub culture with guys in their, say, 20s, probably? It’s become sort of… not necessarily popular, but like a common thing that people seem to be punching strangers or getting into fights purposefully, but then, yeah, hitting someone once, them hitting the ground, hitting concrete, and then dying.

I think it’s because as well the drinking culture in Australia, and especially with younger men, I mean, I’m sure I’ve done it several times. Your eyes are a lot bigger than your stomach. You think you drink a lot more than you can. You drink way too much and, you know, somebody says something that’s probably… it’s probably not even that insulting to you at all. It’s probably just something that they’ve, you know, he said and you’ve just taken to the complete wrong context, let it sort of go, it‘s stewed in your head, and then you just go up and try and hit him. I know for me and all my friends, you know, I’ve spoken to a lot of the times, because I have been knocked out cold, and I’ve told them about how dangerous it is when you get knocked out and you hit your head again.

Was that in one of these instances or was that only in competing?

Sorry, from competing, not in a bar or anything else like that. From competing. And it just basically my coach telling me that, you know, if you’re ever in a tournament and you do knock somebody out that you really want to try to make sure you catch them before they hit the ground, because it’s not the knockout that is bad for you, it’s when you hit your head again.

But the trouble is, I think too, people don’t realise and I’ve learnt this from being surrounded by MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters, you probably have two or three of those that you can experience in your life before you have significant brain damage. One of them can potentially lead to noticeable brain damage, but if you get knocked out cold three times, I think like in the UFC some of those guys… they won’t, like, let them fight again or they’ll tell them, you know, if you keep doing this, you’re going to end up with some significant mental issues.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I know it’s, it’s… I mean, there’s so many studies they do with NFL (National Football League) players, they do with MMA fighters, you know, kickboxers, Muay Thai fighters, karate full contact fighters, you know, like, I’m sure rugby players in Australia, in other countries… they’ve done so many studies about it and the effects it does. You know, I know heaps of people, like, I’ve got a kick boxing coach, I’ve known him for ages, and then sometimes he forgets my name. You know, and I know him quite well, and he’s really punch-drunk all the time. Like, he’s such a great guy, but he just sounds really dopey when you talk to him and it’s because he’s been hit in the head too many times, he’s been knocked out too many times.

Yeah. So, what’s ‘punch drunk’ for those who don’t know that term or expression means?

So, punch-drunk is basically when it’s… you’ve been hit in the head too many times from other like a contact sport, whether it be, you know, martial arts or footy or NFL or rugby, and basically you just sort of speak with a bit of a slurred, sometimes a big characteristic or you forget things like, just really basic things, you know, like people’s names is a big one that you’ve just met. You know, you might have just met them and then 5 minutes later you can’t remember their name. You know? Or, yeah, slurring your words, forgetting things, like, you know, we forget just really basic things, like, you know, you’ll go to… you’ll go out for dinner and you forget your wallet. Things like that. It just basically means that, you know, you run a bit slower than normal… the normal person at your age, I suppose.


ST = something

SW = somewhere

SO = someone

A bar – a counter in a pub, restaurant, or café across which drinks or refreshments are served
A big characteristic (of ST) – a large/obvious example of ST typical about a person, place, or thing
A big supporter (of ST) – a person who really approves of and encourages a public figure, political party, policy, etc.
A big thing – a serious issue; very popular
A boxing fan – a person who follows and supports the sport of boxing
A club – an association dedicated to a particular interest or activity
A contact sport – a sport in which the participants necessarily come into bodily contact with one another
A dojo – a room or hall in which judo and other martial arts are practised
A king hit – a sudden knockout blow/punch
A sensei – (in martial arts) a teacher
A skull – a bone framework enclosing the brain of a vertebrate
A stranger – an unknown person
A wallet – a pocket-sized flat folding case for holding money and plastic cards
A Westernised country – a country that is from the Western or has adopted Western cultural influences
After school care – care that children receive after school has finished, usually until their parents finish work and can pick them up
An expat – an expatriate – a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than their native country
An instance – a moment; a time where ST occurred
Be about to… – be very close to… (doing ST)
Be fed up with ST – be annoyed, unhappy, or bored, especially with a situation that has existed for a long time
Be knocked out cold – be hit in the head by ST and go completely unconscious
Block a punch – prevent a punch from hitting you by using a body part as a shield to stop or deflect it
Bound for SO to… – Certain for SO to (do ST)
Brain damage – injury to the brain that impairs its functions, especially permanently
Bully (SO) – use superior strength or influence to intimidate (SO), typically to force them to do ST
Calm the situation down – cause a situation to become quieter or calmer
Concrete – a building material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water
Confident – feeling or showing confidence in oneself and one’s abilities or qualities
Crack down on ST – for an authority, e.g. the police, to work harder to reduce ST, e.g. a crime
Cruel – wilfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it
Daycare – daytime care for young children
Deal with ST – organise or resolve ST
Dopey – stupefied by ST, e.g. a sleep or drug
Drinking culture – the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of people who drink alcohol
End up – finally do (ST)
Eradicate ST – completely get rid of ST
Fall in love with ST – become very passionate about ST
Fall in SO’s lap – (for ST good) come to a person suddenly in an unexpected way even though he or she didn’t try to get it
Feel fine – feel ok/alright
Find out (about ST) – discover (ST)
Get involved in ST – Start to take part in ST
Give SO the story – Tell SO the information about ST
Happen overnight – (for ST) to happen suddenly or very quickly
Have eyes bigger than your stomach – attempt to do ST that is too much or too big for you to achieve
How on earth… – used as emphasis when you are extremely surprised, confused, or angry about ST
I suppose… – I guess; my opinion is that
Injure SO – harm or hurt SO
It’s not worth it – it is not good or important enough to justify doing
Knock (SO) out – hit (SO) in the head and cause them to lose consciousness
Man – used as friendly emphasis, like, “mate”, “buddy”, “dude”
Mental issues – (for SO to have) problems of the mind, whether literal, i.e. depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or figurative, i.e. anger, weird thought processes
My aspect – the particular part or feature of ST related to me
One punch – the phenomenon of usually young and drunk Australian men getting into fights with strangers, hitting them once and unexpectedly
Pardon (SO) for ST – forgive (SO) for ST
Preparation – the action of getting ready for ST
Progression – the process of developing or moving gradually towards a more advanced state
Pub culture – the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of people who go to pubs (establishments that sell alcohol and food)
Punch-drunk – the state of temporarily or permanently being dazed or stupefied by or as if by a series of heavy blows to the head
Purposefully – done on purpose; done with intent
Put in a good word for SO – say ST positive about SO, usually to SO who is thinking of hiring them for a job, etc.
Put my name down (for ST) – lit. write one’s name down on a list of people (to be included in ST), fig. agree to do (ST)
Significant – sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy
Slur your words – speak without pronouncing words clearly or separately, e.g. because tired or drunk
Slurred – speak (words) indistinctly so that the sounds run into one another
Stew in your head – (for an issue, idea, or problem to) be thought about in one’s head over and over again
Stuff like that – used to refer to things that are similar or related to the subject you’re talking about but without needing to specifically list them all
Surrounded by ST – have many things around you in all directions, encircling you
Switch onto ST – change onto ST, e.g. a different topic of discussion
The golden years (for SO) – the time of life when ST was going particularly well for SO; often the retirement years for people
The trouble is… – the problem or issue is…