Morné Swanepoel's
Johan van heerden
Coach Morne, Adelle & Johan van Heerden
Johan van Heerden Vice President

My functional martial arts journey with Morné Swanepoel started roundabout the year 2000.  I had several years of traditional martial arts training under the belt back then, but after an encounter with violent crime I realized that traditional martial arts, despite being an excellent form of exercise and discipline, in my opinion did not quite address the situations I might face in the real world.

Understandably, after the incident mentioned above, my focus shifted towards security type training, but I was still looking for a functional approach to close quarters combat to complement this with.  I read about Morné and his approach to training in a magazine article, and since I have long been a fan of Bruce Lee and the functional approach to the JKD concept, my then fiancé and I decided to join the association.


We started one of the first official training groups of the association in Potchefstroom back then; training in mixed martial arts with a street emphasis long before the term MMA even existed.  Through Morné, I have been exposed to the cutting edge of functional mixed martial arts training, as well as to some of the leading functional martial art and reality based coaches in the world.  Most importantly, I have grown with the association and learned about the importance of aliveness and resistance when training and when pressure testing techniques, which remain the acid test for everything we do. 


Over the years, through our training group, we were able to share with many people the benefits that training in realistic functional martial arts have on self confidence and self esteem, and assist people becoming harder targets for criminals.  To be able to do this is a huge privilege in itself.


My personal quest now is not so much to compete, but to combine the alive training methods, foundation and athleticism of MMA with the mindset, tactics, principles and economy of modern combatives, in order to develop the most direct, functional and efficient approach to reality based training in a setting where there is absolutely no certainties – the ultimate expression of the JKD philosophy.  Through the guidance and education I receive from, I will strive to continuously grow as a reality based self defense athlete and instructor, and by doing this, I aim to bring my students the most realistic, functional and efficient approach to training possible, assisting them in reaching their full potential!

Some personal experiences include:

1.    1. This kind of training, if done correctly, will keep you humble.  One day you might 
    be on top of your game and the very next day someone might catch you out in 

          training, no matter how long you have been doing this.  You realize that you are 

          not as invincible as you thought, and this humbleness carries over to your

          everyday life;

2.    2. In training, you have to prioritize your thoughts and responses to deal with the 

          most pressing problem at hand first.  This helps you to forget about problems at

          work etc. and help to manage stress levels.  Consequently, you also learn to

          prioritize matters that require your attention in everyday life better;

3.    3. Having to deal with people trying their very best to choke you out or punch you

          in the face in training, make other problems in life just seem a little less


4.    4. The same way you cannot just quit in training when you are confined with

         seemingly no way out, you also learn that in life you cannot just quit, and that

         most of the times there actually IS a way out, you just might have to work a bit

         harder and with more determination to make it realize;

5.    5. One important aspect of this type of training is that you develop the ability to

         adapt to whatever an opponent, that resists your efforts 100% in a variety of

         different situations, throws at you.  This ability is as important in training as it is

         in life because you learn that no matter what curve balls life throws at you, you

         will probably be OK and be able to handle it;

6.    6. You make peace with the fact that you can only know what you have been

         exposed to, and that you can only do your best with what you have learned.  And

         as long as you did your best, you did well;

7.    7. As you mature and train regularly, you reach a point where you have nothing to

         prove to no-one, inside or outside the gym.  You just do your best, and that is

         enough.  I used to have a pretty bad temper, but I’m happy to say these days I

         can manage it much better;

8.    8. You realize and make peace with the fact that, for the rest of your life, you are

         only going the be the unique person that God created you to be, and that you

         really are in fact pretty awesome;

9.    9. All of the above boosts your confidence in yourself and your abilities.  You learn

         what you are capable of, and just as important, that sometimes - despite your

         best efforts - some situations are just impossible to change;

1010.On a physical level, although additional training time is limited due to a hectic

         work schedule, at least my regular training sessions are functional and fun!

I will never regret the day I decided to join – it has been a life changing experience!

Johan van Heerden Potchefstroom