Dr. Rodney King
Mindfulness & Embodiment Researcher | Inner Fitness Strategist |
Challenge Play Maestro | Systems Thinker | Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
"I was homeless at 17 &
sleeping on the streets"
Until my late 20s, I felt like I had been fighting my whole life. Brought up on the south side of Johannesburg, in South African government housing (similar to “the projects” in the USA), I learned early on that what really mattered was how tough you were. Growing up as I did, I often felt trapped in a really bad nightmare — and I wanted to wake up.
I was determined to survive the school bullies and the gangsters on the streets of my neighbourhood. Yet, even though I barely survived the violence outside of my home, my home wasn’t safe either. Things turned rough in my teens. My abusive, alcoholic mother kicked me out of the house at 17, and as a result, I never finished high school.
Destitute and homeless, I found myself sleeping on the inner city streets of Johannesburg. With less than $20 in my pocket, I decided then and there, to change the trajectory of my life. I realized in my darkest moments of my despair that success comes down to what you do on the inside, no matter what’s happening to you on the outside.
Turning Everything Around
truth is, I realized that the only narrative that really mattered was my own. As with any story, my life’s story could have any kind of ending I chose. On my journey to healing and self-discovery I decided not only what my story would ultimately become, but how it would play out. The final ending as they say, still remains unwritten, but hopeful.
What got me through this incredibly tough time in my life?
This may surprise you, but it was the inner resiliency fitness tools I learned as a martial artist.
My martial arts practice taught me to be resilient, to be composed and calm in difficult situations that life threw at me. The inner fitness tools I developed as a martial artist taught me how to embrace my fears, to develop laser like focus, and to never give up. Having developed these qualities, I went back to school, put myself through college. I did my undergraduate work in psychology, completing my masters degree in Leading Innovation and Change. I earned my Doctorate in 2019 from the University of Leicester’s School of Business.
In the past two decades I have coached Army Special Forces all around the world, both on developing high-performance inner fitness, and self-preservation skills to survive on the modern battlefield. I have instructed law enforcement officers both in the United States, Canada, Germany and Australia on how to protect themselves when all else fails.
I have worked closely with corporate executives, emerging leaders, artists and CEOs how to purposefully choose to become fully attuned to the present moment with clarity, poise and equanimity.
Over the past several years I have coached, consulted and offered training to high profile companies, such as Google, AirBnB and Singapore Airlines. In addition I created two modern martial arts lifestyle brands that are now taught in over 15-countries around the world.
My Approach to Life Performance Coaching
I'll show you how to survive hostile mind-sets, and ensure that you are physically and mentally resilient to fight against all of life’s challenges.
For the past several years my research area of interest has focused on mindfulness from an embodied perspective and its role in enhancing leadership performance (My Doctoral research was in Mindful-Leadership). My formative training in embodiment as a tool for personal transformation comes from my extensive background in martial arts – whilst my academic rigor in delivering sound research based embodied solutions, comes from my several years of research as a social scientist, and doctoral researcher.
My approach is pragmatic, grounded in research, but experienced in action.
I have learned that in order to be successful in the really tough things in life one requires a practice space. It is in this practice space that you get to learn, fail, and try again different ways of being that may be contrary to how you typically show up in life. My practice of martial arts has always been that opportunity to ‘practice’ the tools, strategies and tactics that I later positively brought to bare in all aspects of my life.
As such, I have taken the best inner fitness lessons from my more than three decades of martial arts and somatic (a fancy way of saying the body) practice, along with my research as a social scientist and developed it into a system of personal practice that anyone can engage in. What makes my approach unique is that I believe that true, lasting success has to be experienced through the body-in-action first.
I believe that the MindBody connection in life and especially in the business world is misunderstood and under valued. For so much of our life we have been told that success can only be achieved through our ‘head’ smarts, and relying on rationality. While the ‘thinking’ part of our experience is important in achieving success, it is also that part of us that stops us from becoming our best. We often self-sabotage our own success with the way we think.
As obvious as it sounds, without a body there is no life — no success, no business — and no organizations. And as obvious as this may sound, little or no attention is given to how to actually train one’s inner fitness, the MindBody as one, for sustained personal success. I encourage my students to go beyond reason and rationality, and to connect with their entire self in a way that brings their natural intelligence to life. The underlying premise behind my coaching approach is that who you are on the inside (not just in your head, but all of you) determines your success in life. ‘Mind’ then is more than what lies within your skull, mind is all of you, from your head to the tips of your fingers, toes and beyond.
Allow me the opportunity to coach you...
I will take you on a personal inner fitness journey through a combination of martial art based drills and other inner fitness embodied strategies. This will be scaffolded further with the art and science of mindfulness. The goal, is to help you discover full-bodied creative solutions to obstacles that have always stood in your way.
I don’t say this lightly. You will be challenged, sometimes physically, at other times emotionally and mentally. But, it is only through challenge that we grow.
I am likely going to challenge some of the paradigms society has imposed upon you too.
For example, we are told failure is a bad thing, when in fact, there is no success without embracing failure.
We have been told that perfection is the key to success, when in reality it is the acceptance of impermanence that will allow us to flourish in life.
We are told that to succeed it’s survival of the fittest, when in fact competition with others creates competition within ourselves. This in turn invariably leads to stress, and at worst depression.
We spend so much of our lives trying to outdo others, that in the end we end up disconnected from our true potential and alienated from our selves. Coming back to our inner self, by developing inner fitness, is a tool set that can aid us in flourishing in all aspects of our lives, from work, to play.
I call this process OF BEING: Embodiedfulness!
It’s more than learning to be mindful (as important as that is), but rather how to reintegrate your entire self as a coherent force for good, both in your own life and in others. Embodiedfulness is the best of ‘you’ in the very moment life throws you another curve ball.
Honestly I am nothing special. This is not me trying to be modest. Rather, as an introvert, and someone who was constantly told growing up they wouldn’t amount to anything — I have figured out a way to manage my inner fitness, enabling me to put myself out their in the world and achieve my goals. I have taught this same system to hundreds of people around the world who have gone on to succeed despite the odds they have had to face in their own lives.