Terry O'Neill (martial artist)
27 February 1948 |
Terry O'Neill was born in Liverpool, England on 27 February 1948, the son of a police officer. From an early age he had always been fascinated by stories of people with great physical strength – the "super-heroes", which quickly led to an interest in martial arts.
His first job was working as a security-man at various venues where such acts as the Rolling Stones and the Walker Brothers were performing. He then worked at the Cavern Club and continued to be employed in security work for the next 17 years. Co-workers at the time would often comment that watching O'Neill in an altercation was like watching a martial arts movie as he was inclined to use impressive high kicks and other athletic techniques.  Local folklore has it that Terry could knock a trouble-causer over with his first kick, kick him again to keep him upright, and finish him off with a third.
His introduction to Kumite was in the 1967 KUGB National Championships, where, he says, he was soundly beaten in the Individual event due to inexperience. This state of affairs didn't last long, as he won the KUGB National Championships Individual Kumite Kata title in 1972, 73, 74, 75, 77, and 1978. He was three times the KUGB Grand Champion and from 1967 to 1981, he was a member of the Red Triangle Team who were KUGB National Team Champions on no less than 13 occasions.
A member of the KUGB International Squad from 1968 till 1982, he was also Captain of the highly successful British All-Styles Squad who defeated Japan to win the 1975 World Championships held in Los Angeles, USA. It is not generally known that he was joint third in the 1974 World Championships that were held in Japan.
At his fighting peak in the early '70s, he was recognized as one of the World's most fearsome competitors. A master of innovation and tactical surprise, he had a dynamic and flamboyant fighting style that few could beat.
He always considered himself as a kicking specialist, but many opponents have fallen prey to his exceptionally fast Uraken/Empi combination and he out-punched Danny Bryceland to win the 1969 KUGB Individual Championships.
Whenever he fought, the audience followed his every move, expecting the unexpected. Few were ever disappointed – for example – the unique rolling Kakato Geri that he used to defeat Steve Cattle in the 1977 KUGB finals was one of the most spectacular and innovative techniques ever witnessed at a championship.
Tragically, his run as a competition fighter came to an abrupt end in 1982, when he seriously damaged the ligaments of his knee in an International match against Italy.
In 1972, he founded the premier UK Martial Arts magazine "Fighting Arts International", which had a worldwide reputation as one of the few really serious and influential magazines on the subject and ran successfully until 1997.
A senior member of the KUGB, he is also an International Referee and a KUGB Grading Examiner. he has been a member of the KUGB since its inception, and he says, "that it is one of the great organizations", and he hopes that it will continue to develop along the same lines as it has grown and developed over the last 30 years. In 2006 the premier US martial arts magazine "Black Belt" published an unordered list of the "deadliest fighters on the planet" – the criteria was no deceased fighters and no mixed-martial artists, and attempted to subjectively rate the men according to how skilled they were in their prime, with Terry O'Neill listed No.1 .
Another aspect of Terry O'Neill's life is his work as an actor. He has appeared with such well-known names as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Caine and Sean Connery. He has also appeared on British Television in "Civvies" (1992), "Comics" (1993), and "The Governor" (1995), and more recently "The Commander: Windows of the Soul" (2007), "Giri" (2008) and "Above Suspicion" (2009). He has also acted as martial arts consultant on many other films.
O'Neill's film appearances include roles in:
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
- Gangs of New York (2002)
- Quills (2000)
- Entrapment (1999)
- Kull the Conqueror (1997)
- The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)
- Dragonheart (1996)
- In the Name of the Father (1993)
- Conan the Destroyer (1984)
- The 51st State
- Clarke, Jeremy (6 December 1998). "End of story". Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-08-21.
- KUGB Instructor Profile
- Dragon Associates page about 'FAI'
- "Toughest Men on Planet Earth: Black Belt Ranks the 20 Best Street Fighters in the Martial Arts World.".
- Terry O'Neill at the Internet Movie Database
- Terry O'Neill is portrayed extensively in the book Working with Warriors