Rodney grew up on the South Side of Johannesburg in government housing (similar to the Projects in the USA). Surrounded by violence, he had to navigate both the gangs in his neighbourhood and the bullies at school. He took up martial arts as a way to protect himself, but knew even at a very young age, that he wanted to pursue martial arts as a living. Growing up in an abusive household, with an single parent, his Mother was prone to fits of rage when drunk. Suffering the torment of growing up with an alcoholic, he was kicked out of the house at age 17, finding himself sleeping on a park bench. This was the same park he escaped to as a kid to avoid the thugs in his neighbourhood and his abusive Mother.
Never finishing high school, and with no prospects for the future, he enrolled into the South African Military before his 18th birthday, forging his Mothers signature to get in early. In those days military service was compulsory. Rodney served his national service in the VIP Protection Wing of the South African Military Police, before moving to Counter Insurgents Operations. He rose to the rank of Platoon Sergeant during his service, and was the lead hand to hand combat instructor for his unit. After military service, with no high school diploma, and skill sets no one would employ, he began working as a doorman outside some of Johannesburg’s roughest nightclubs. He would work outside the door for several years, where he became the head doorman of several clubs, and had over seventy doorman working for him, before deciding to pack it in and begin coaching martial arts full-time in 1999.
Rodney spent years training in different forms of martial arts, from becoming a black belt in karate, several years under olympic bronze medalist Willie Toweel, to a decade of training in Muay Thai under the watchful eye of his coach Apidej Sit Hirun, who was then the head coach at Fairtex, Bangkok. It was during this time that Rodney began to put his own programs, and approach to dealing with interpersonal violence together. Combining his knowledge of interpersonal violence outside some of the roughest nightclubs in Johannesburg, with surviving the mean, unforgiving, violent streets of the South Side of Johannesburg growing up, and with his years of sparring experience in and outside of the ring, Crazy Monkey Defense was born. During this same time Rodney focused on his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. He is now a 4th degree black belt under Master Rigan Machado.
Rodney went back to school in his 30’s, doing his undergraduate work in psychology, and earned his Masters in Leading Innovation and Change from York St John University’s School of Business. He is currently enrolled as an MSc student at the University of Essex pursuing a 2nd graduate degree in Criminology and Criminal Psychology. He is in addition in his final months of completing his PhD at the University of Leicester’s School of Business, where his research focus is in Mindful-Leadership. He is also a certified Positive Psychology Coach, along with several other qualifications.
Over the past decade Coach Rodney’s programs have been taught to special force military operators, law enforcement officers, and close protection teams. He has trained world champion combat athletes, along with thousands of people who have attended one of his seminars somewhere in the world. In addition Rodney has also recently begun teaching airline security, working with cabin crew on how to restrain unruly passengers and other threats. Rodney’s programs have even crossed over to the corporate world, where companies such as Google and AirBnB among others have been recipients of his expertise. He is the author of two books, Full Contact Living and Shugyo-Fit.
Rodney’s programs are now taught and applied all over the world, from full time gyms and academies, to garages, on the battlefield, by law enforcement officers on the street, to the corporate world.