Carl van Roon

Carl van Roon is the founder and head coach of Van Roon Martial Arts. He is an eleven times martial arts world champion in taekwon-do and karate and a former captain of the WAKO Kickboxing NZ national team. He has also worked as a stuntman in multiple high profile film productions.

When Carl Van Roon began his martial arts training in karate at the age of 10, he quickly knew it was the beginning of a lifelong association with the martial arts as a way of life.

Graduating to taekwon-do and kickboxing in his mid-teens, Carl even proposed to his parents that he wanted to do a degree in martial arts when he finished school.

With nothing available in that particular field, the closest on offer was sports science which made for an easy decision.

The Japanese have a concept called ikigai that combines the terms iki, meaning alive or life, and gai, meaning benefit or worth. When combined, these terms mean ‘that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose’. It’s similar to the French term raison d'etre or reason for being.

For Carl, ikigai describes his journey in the martial arts.

“I’ve always been curious about the idea of whether we choose a vocation or a life purpose or it chooses us. For me martial arts has been a natural fit with who I am as a person and what I’m seeking from life.”

Carl completed his masters degree in Sport & Exercise Science specialising in mindset/mental skills. During his degree he designed a testing method on mental skills development with a particular focus on the power of mindset and the role it plays in sporting success. He now incorporates this into his own training programmes and the unique coaching style he uses to train a new generation of world champions.

“Merging direct experience with sports science has been invaluable and a real point of difference for our team.”

Beyond winning world titles in taekwon-do and karate, Carl has recently begun competing in the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), making his debut on the Eternal MMA 50 card in 2020, but outside of combat sports competition, Carl’s involvement in martial arts has also led to an unexpected series of opportunities in film.

While completing his university studies, Carl met a group of martial artists working in the film/TV industry as stunt performers. This led to a chance to try out for his first role on the Power Rangers TV show working with renowned stunt coordinator Mark Harris.

“My background in martial arts formed a foundation for the work I do in the industry now, including more recently working as a fight choreographer on several productions. My real passion in this field lies in showcasing the craft of martial arts not just as a sport but also as a performance art.”

Other stunt roles followed including being involved in multiple high-profile productions such as The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and more recently The Panthers.

Having already achieved a lot in a short time, Carl says there’s almost a symmetry to the way in which his career has evolved.

“I’m now moving into more work as a fight choreographer in the film/TV industry, which originally inspired me to take up the martial arts in the first place, so it feels like I’ve completed the circle.

“But empowering the next generation of competitors to extend themselves beyond their limits and compete against the world’s best is what really gets me out of bed in the morning.”

Take 10 podcast: Carl van Roon; From the Classroom to the Dojo: The Wisdom and Practice of Modern Mixed Martial Arts

University of Auckland 40 Under 40: Performer Carl Van Roon shares his success in martial arts, how scholarship and martial arts can be combined to fuel innovation and resilience and his dedication to living the values of the continuous improvement or what the Japanese term “Kaizen”.