Anthony Kelly – 29 Times World Record Holder

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Those who know Anthony Kelly, the Arrow Catcher, would describe him as a very high achiever. With 29 world records behind him (and 3 still pending), Anthony is a proud Armidalian and ambassador for our region.

How is your New England Martial Arts Centre (NEMAC) going?

Excellent! We now have over 200 students training 5 days a week and 6 government accredited coaches instructing. I must say, I couldn’t do it without the help of my wife, Christine, and my son, Taylor.

Last year we competed in 3 state and a national competition, with the students performing very well. Although we are not a competition club, it’s good to see that our students can win against clubs that only train for comps. Tournaments are one way of testing a martial arts ability, but the main goal for myself and my instructors at NEMAC is to teach good offensive and defensive fighting skills (both armed and unarmed), but also and more importantly is to teach students how to have pride and respect in themselves, their families, their community and country.

The bonus for me in travelling the world is to constantly see and then relate back to the students that we live in the BEST country in the world, and that we should be grateful we are here and to work hard in keeping it that way. Some of my students may not be the best fighters in the world, but guaranteed they are some of the nicest, most well mannered and behaved children in the district.

This brings me to an important message that I would like to get across to people: martial arts is a life long pursuit in self improvement, constantly training yourself to be mentally and physically stronger. It is not about getting into a cage and belting another human senseless, but about learning how to defend themselves both mentally and physically against an unprovoked attack. Being a good citizen is an important attribute that a real martial artist should have.

Tell us about your history in martial arts.

I started training in 1978 in Judo and have never looked back. The reason I started was to learn how to fight like my idols, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali.  During the ’80s, I practiced Zen Chi Ryu, Kempo, Fencing, Boxing, Karate, and Taekwondo. I enjoyed Taekwondo and opened clubs in Armidale, Uralla and Tamworth. In 1990 I opened the New England Martial Arts Centre. At the time, I was studying Go Ju Ryu Karate and Kung Fu intensively with many renowned instructors. It was at this stage that my father-in-law, Jackie Shing, and other Chinese family members encouraged me to concentrate fully on doing Hung Kuen Kung Fu. I will never forget one day when Jackie said to me that if I fully focus on training hard, after 20 years I would reap the rewards of my hard work. He was right … Kung Fu translates simply to work hard, and that is my club motto: ‘practice is the key to success’. Now after 30 years of hard training, I am a Grandmaster, I have black belts in 10 different styles and I’m a level 3 (Australia’s highest level) government accredited martial arts coach.

How long did it take you to master the art of arrow catching?

I started catching arrows in 2000 as a demonstration at my annual martial arts night, and then soon was in Madrid, Spain doing it live on TV to millions of people. From this appearance, I was asked by Guinness World Records to do many other shows around the world – and in fact, have been one of their leading acts for the past 10 years and have done Guinness shows in most countries.

I have appeared in other major shows such as MythBusters, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Stan Lee’s Superhumans, Time Warp and more importantly to me, have had many major international TV shows come to Armidale to film me performing my skills – and in doing so have exposed our city to the world. Nationally, I have been on many Australian shows lately, such as the TODAY show and have also featured in many international and national magazines and books.

What’s your most recent entry into the book of Guinness World Records?

In December alone, I appeared on the TODAY TV show again and broke the record for ‘the most chopsticks thrown in 1 minute’, I also set the record for ‘the most tennis balls caught in 1 hour’ at the Bowling Club and attempted to break my chopstick throwing record in Beijing,China.

Exactly how many world records have you broken?

29 world records, with three pending.

Always aiming so high, what do you feel has been your greatest achievement?

Being the Armidale Citizen of the year in ’09 was a great achievement. I am a fifth generation Armidalian, and when I grew up all I used to hear about is what a great man my father Sam was, and what big shoes I would have to fill if I was to be as good a man as him. Well, I’m trying and hope that in some small way that I have contributed not only to the Kelly family name, but the Armidale and world community as well. As far as my world record achievements go, I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to travel the globe and see some of the most fantastic sights and meet the most unusual people. But in saying that, I do not think people really understand the amount of hard training and stress that goes into an overseas appearance.

Fielding international calls at all hours of the night, writing emails, negotiating with the TV producers, travelling for days, eating unusual foods and waiting around the TV studios for hours and sometimes days waiting to appear and then be expected to perform at your best; it’s very demanding on the mind and body. In saying that, the reward for performing in front of millions of people and breaking a record live is a great feeling.

What’s next?

Keep building NEMAC up and run more Kung Fu and Reaction Training workshops, locally and nationally. As far as TV goes, last year I broke the billion viewer mark, and I hope to do that again. I’m in the planning for a Discovery TV show from England that wants to do a feature on me – part of the filming will be here in Armidale.

Thanks FOCUS, and Happy Year of the Dragon.

Thanks Anthony.

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