Phil Norman initially began training at the age of 17 in traditional Kung Fu and at 18, attended a 4 day training seminar led by Guru Dan Inosanto in London at Nino Bernardo's Basement Gym. It was a 'life changing' experience after which Phil and his training partner Colin Sherred followed Inosanto and attended his seminars in the UK and in Europe. Regular visits to the Inosanto Academy in California followed.
In 1989 Phil became the first UK based student to pass Ajarn Surachai Sirisute’s Thai test and he also received his Initiateur (Instructor) in Boxe Francais Savate under Professeur Salem Assli.
In 1991 Phil became an apprentice instructor under Guru Dan Inosanto in the Filipino Martial Arts Kali/ Silat and in Jun Fan Martial Arts/ Jeet Kune Do.
Phil's athletic ability stood him in good stead in 1992 when he participated in a television programme called 'Gladiators'. He went on to win the season and represented the UK in the international programmes in the USA and in South Africa. It was from these TV shows that Phil picked up the fight name 'The Gladiator', a title he has never quite been able to shake off.
With most of Phil's instructors being based in the USA, it was difficult to get quality instruction for his personal training locally. This led him to start training with a close friend whom he had met through security work, namely Trevor Ambrose, a World Champion kick boxer (later winning 4 other World Title Belts!). Phil trained with Trevor privately almost on a daily basis and went with him to compete in France at a Kick Boxing event (both winning their fights, Trevor by KO, Phil by stoppage). It was shortly after this, that Phil suffered a severely prolapsed disc and his doctor told him that he would never be able to do martial arts again! Phil was laid up for 6 months and struggled to come to terms with the injury. "I realised I could not rely on my body to make an income, so I took pain killers and went to University and studied sport science". During this time Phil started to make a remarkable recovery and went back to training, at first very gently with specific back exercises, but it was not long before he was back training in the martial arts.
Another person who was to have a big influence on Phil's training in the UK was Dan Kavanagh, a 5th Dan in Judo, who was coaching the British Sport Ju Jitsu Team which included the likes of K1 Champion Gary Turner and Alex Reid. Phil was invited to join the team for a training weekend and subsequently asked to represent Great Britain in World Championships. In 1998, 2 years after being told he would never be able to compete in martial arts again, Phil won the middle weight Sport Ju Jitsu World Title, beating fighters from Japan, Canada and the USA. He continued to compete and fought on one of the early Mixed Martial Art shows held in the UK, 'Night of the Samurai', winning by KO and becoming the British Champion. In 2000 Phil took and passed the Shooto exam under Sensei Yorinaga Nakamura and became the first UK student to get a 100% pass rate. In the same year, he became one of only 5 Students in the UK to be awarded the honour of his Full Instructorship under Guru Dan Inosanto.
Phil completed his University studies passing with honours and then continued to develop his teaching trade working full time at a local college where he achieved his Post Graduate Certificate in Education and Assessor and Verifier Award.
At the age of 40 Phil fought one last time in MMA, breaking his hand and foot, securing a points win regardless after which he decided his body had had enough abuse and retiring from competition. This led to a time of reflection and the ‘bringing together’ of the elusive fighting system he has named Ghost™ elusive combat.
Phil would like to thank his senior instructors who were not specifically mentioned above:
Sifu Rick Faye
Sensei Erik Paulson and
UK JKD Instructors Rick Young, Bob Breen, Terry Barnett and Ralph Jones.
Phil would like give special thanks to Andy Norman for guiding him in the development of his system, Ghost™ elusive combat.