Peter Skillen was born in Loughborough
in the summer of 1970. Currently studying TV & Film production at
Brooksby Melton College Peter is fast becoming a writer with some
presence in the market. Peter's first short film 'SHED' was made and
released in 2011. Since the release of Shed Peter has been asked to
script edit and write several other short films and a feature film.
Peter's next project 'Jackpot' is currently in production with Peter's
very own production house Circus Media in conjunction with Storm Maker Pictures.
Peter is also an accomplished Martial
Artist holding multiple black belts, he continues to study and coach
various different forms of martial arts to the general public as well
as national, world, and Olympic champions of various sports. Peter
sites his Martial Arts training alongside his own personal beliefs as
the axis on which his success in life depends.
Peter has in the past lived on the dark
side of life and has much to offer by the way of life experience, he has
written a book 'The Twelve Step Warrior' about these experiences. In
the book Peter gives an account of his life past, how he shed his old
skin, and how he continues to grow into, in his words, "a better man".
Testimonial from Al Peasland:
When Stuart asked me to pen a few words
about my good friend Peter, I jumped at the chance.
For me, a big part of being a Martial
Artist is how we translate everything we learn in the dojo, to other areas
of our lives. How we can take the confidence the arts gives us and go on
to lead courageous and fulfilling lives. For the years I've known Peter, I've
seen how he exemplifies this trait and it's something that inspires me
massively about him.
Peter has gone through extremely challenging
times in his life, and I think it's a testimony to his strength of character
and his attitude born from honest Martial Arts Training, that still sees
him continue to face adversity and obstacles with bravery and commitment. From setting up his own gyms and academies,
to taking himself back to university to study new skills, to writing his
own inspiring books and films. Peter demonstrates how we can all follow
our dreams if we have the strong desire and determination to do so.
As a martial artist, Peter is a fantastic
coach and, most importantly, a truthful one. Always keen to have lots of fun, which,
for me, is one of the most important elements an instructor can bring to
the classs, he offers a wealth of experience few others can. Leading by example, he is prepared to
don the white belt and continue to grow as a martial artist himself, which,
again, in my opinion, is our duty as instructors, to continue to seek
what is new and what is current.
I've had the pleasure of training alongside
Peter, teaching his classes, and had Peter teach my own classes, and it's
always a huge pleasure and privilege to share the mat with him.
If you want to know how it is, with no punches
pulled and nothing wrapped up in kid gloves, Peter is most definitely
Big Love and Much Respect
Al Peasland - 5th Dan BCA
It was a real pleasure to be present in Coventry recently,
Peter, when Geoff awarded you your third dan on one of his
Masterclass sessions. Many congratulations on that, and thanks loads
for taking the time for this chat. Can you tell us something about
your new film, and how you got into film making in the first place?
Was it always an ambition, or something that grew
Peter: I always loved film, as a
kid the cinema was my escape. I would often skip school to go to the
cinema and always dreamed of becoming a film maker. But, I was a
council estate kid, and people like me don't become film makers do
they? At least, that's how I used to think.
So, how did you make it happen, from a base of it supposedly being
Peter: First I had to sort out the real problems in my life before I
could go anywhere. It wasn't until I got rid of the other Me's that I realised the real me was a person who could achieve
that a matter of perception, or, are we talking actual identities
Peter: I believe that as we grow up through life we collect many
different masks (persona's) through our life experiences. We can
change these masks at will. Look at when you walk into the dojo, the
moment your foot steps over that threshold you put on a different
mask. You meet your new girlfriend's parents for the first time,
another mask. The job interview, another mask. But the thing is,
Stuart, we can only wear the masks we pick up through life. Our life
experiences determine what masks we have to wear.
our lives are different, so some people have more masks than others.
Some people have so many masks they forget which one they are
wearing. Addiction brings you many life experiences that most people
will never have, and therefore more masks.
addictions, which were many, inundated me with masks, so much so that
I did forget which one I was wearing, and when. It was only when I
learnt how to de-mask myself that I realised that although in our
young lives we may not have a choice of what masks we pick and put
on, we always have a choice of what masks we take off! The more masks
we take off the more we reveal our true selves - so much so that life
recognises us, and presents us with the opportunities we should have
Imagine a person reading this, and thinking to them self,
all well and good, but how do I de-mask myself when I don't even know
for sure I'm wearing one, or how to recognise it if I am?"
What would you say to that person?
Peter: Everyone knows when they put a mask on, its just whether or
not they will admit it, you've just got to look around you. The
steroid abuser in the gym Mask-wearer, The guy that claims to be a
great boxer but can't box any more because he's injured (he's not,
that's his mask). Take these two for instance. The steroid abuser
should go to his mates and his friends and say
“listen, I am
taking steroids, but I'm not going to any more. I took them because I
felt weak - I felt like I didn't fit in. I wanted to look good. I was
unhappy with myself so I took them, but now I want to stop taking
His friends (who incidentally already knew
and could see right through his mask) love him dearly now - more so
than ever - because the mask is gone and his true self is now shining
through. The good boxer (with the fake injury) goes to the boxing gym
and tells the trainer:
“I'm sorry but I'm a little scared to
train as I have been lying for years about an injury I haven't got. I
was just scared really”.
I can tell you now without a shadow of
a doubt that when either of these two take their masks off and admit
they were wearing them they will feel the love flow for them, they
will become stronger than ever. Admitting your faults (removing your
mask) isn't weak it's pure strength.
What I'm saying, Stuart,
is, it isn't easy to de-mask - it's really fucking hard because these
masks hide what we consider to be weak about ourselves; but in
reality what we have covered is dynamite strength and power - it is
our true selves, and our true selves have the power to achieve
Stu: So, is
the starting point, for someone who realises they are hiding away like
this, to simply admit to their self that they want to get out from behind the
masks? And, then what happens? Is there a case for getting
professional help, or do we just willpower our way forward by taking
Peter: Whether we need to, or not,
depends on how many masks we wear, or have been wearing. I had become
so engulfed in a world of hiding from myself I had been taken over by
addiction. My addiction was alcohol. Alcoholism is a sneaky disease,
as, like many addictions, it constantly tells us we do not suffer
I got professional help, and it was that professional
help which allowed and encouraged me to take my masks off. But, let
me warn you now, it isn't easy being laid bare to the world - and
being yourself, after years of pretending to be something you're not,
will produce many deep emotions. Some for me were so deep that many a
night I found myself crying myself to sleep. I knew that I had to
build a new Me, based on new ethics and morals, and of course I had
to strengthen my will and build armour that would allow me to face
these new-found emotions head on, without having to hide again. I had
to reforge myself, and this is where my martial arts training came
sort of Martial Arts experience did you have when you reached this
point, Peter, and where did you go to next with your training?
Peter: I Had been brought up as the youngest
of seven, with five older brothers that knew how to look after
themselves, and a father who was a flyweight boxer and a very very
handy street fighter, so it was inevitable that I had to learn how to
fight. I had been taught a lot of pugilism but no Martial Arts
until I was around 13, when I took up Lau Gar Kung Fu, under Steve
Faulkner, God rest his soul. Then I was taught by my brothers, John
and Sam, in what was an awesome kick boxing class.
I first met
Geoff Thompson in the early 1990's when My brother and his friend Ken
invited him to teach us. Geoff did a couple of animal day sessions
with us which were awesome, and the brutality shocked a few, except
for those that trained regularly under my brothers. To be honest our
kick boxing sessions were full-on, and many a broken nose and black
eye was experienced in that class. I did a little competing and won a
few trophies, but nothing massive, all our training was really geared
towards keeping fit and fighting.
When my addiction took it's
grip my training was very sporadic.
How did writing the book came about, Peter?
After being in rehab, more than ten years ago, one of the many things
I learnt was to write my problems down. A problem shared is a problem
halved. Even if you have no one to share the problem with, the
writing down of it simulates the sharing and takes the power out of
those problems, allowing you to understand that no matter what the
problem is you can overcome it. There is always a way.
I am experiencing a massive loss in my life. I could choose to use
this as an excuse to drink again. I could use it as an excuse not to
train. Not to work. Not to achieve my goals. But, instead, I am using
the power of this loss as fuel to energise all the projects I am
I am on my way to achieving a degree, my book is
done, I have done a self defence manual, made a short film, and I am
starting production on another film in 2012. I have just achieved my
3rd dan from Geoff Thompson, been invited to teach some classes for
some world-class instructors, and I teach my own class - as well as
coaching Olympic hopefuls and appearing on the BBC for doing so.
Underlining this all the time I have been experiencing a heart
breaking trial of events that has come to a head. I had an option to
give in, but I couldn't, because I knew I could achieve great things
and these things would enable me to provide the things in life I
always aimed at doing.
So the point of the book is to share
the things in my life that sometimes still haunt me, but, more so, to
pass a message on to others who may suffer from great sadness, to let
them know that out of great depression and darkness can come great
I have a daily mantra, something I tell myself
"The war is constant and the battles are
daily but I shall never give up.”
My aim in life is to
help people understand that what is now, is not what has to be.
How can we achieve greatness even while tragedy is unfolding in our
How do we define greatness? All I want to do is be a good man. What would a good man be? In my eyes he would be a grateful,
humble, loving, kind individual, who would work with what god has
given him, and make use of whatever that may be to the best of his
ability. I am human, I make many mistakes - that you can be sure of –
but we must learn from those mistakes, and, if possible, put them
right the first chance we get. Greatness is doing all these things
naturally. I am not there yet, but I am trying.
I also think
that everything any good always comes out of the darkness. The old
saying that the darkest hour comes before the dawn is so true. I have
recognised, in my life, that change for the better always comes after
I have experienced turmoil. I see this as life's way of testing me
for the next level. Take the martial arts grading of any system - for
you to get to the next level you have to have been challenged
physical and mentally. If you aren't being challenged then you need
to find a new club.
What's the single most important thing to look for when finding a
club or style for training?
single most important thing is without doubt honesty! By that I mean
that the style is honest and works for the situation you want it to
work in. If you want relaxation and style try tai chi, if you want a
traditional art try kung fu, if you want competition fighting try
kick boxing, if you want discipline try karate, if you want self
defence go to someone who teaches proven techniques. All these
techniques are fantastic for their purpose, but you need to ask
yourself, what is the purpose I want it for - and no club should
be all about the money.
Do we all have different levels we should train at, or should we
just train everyday and stop thinking about it?
You should train for the level you want to achieve. You can't get
full time results on part time hours, and you can't become a
professional champion training like an amateur.
Why is it that we usually know exactly what we're doing wrong in our
lives but keep doing it anyway, even though we say we just want to be
It can take a big shock or a slow realisation to understand that what
we are wanting is not what we are doing. Happiness comes through
love, love of ourselves, our surroundings, our work, our friendships,
what we eat and how we keep ourselves. No one else can make us happy
- we have to do that through our own actions - so if you are not
happy then change what is making you unhappy. Sometimes it is not
easy to do this as it can mean a sacrifice that results in short term
pain, but ultimately leads to long term happiness. Time is a very
When and where are we going to be able to see your film?
My first short film, Shed, is out to a few festivals at the minute, so cannot be shown
publicly yet. In 2012 I am organising a short film festival with some
very big names from the independent film scene in attendance - keep
an eye on my website, or add me on Facebook to keep updated about
this. My book is currently being considered by a couple of publishers
and the same applies, but I am sure it will be available very soon
As we begin to realise how successful we can be, the fear of failure
recedes and can be replaced by fear of success - it's not always easy
to tell them apart - have you had similar experience?
I am fearful everyday and it is that that keeps me going - it is
fuel. My great friend and coach Geoff Thompson taught me this, and it
is one of the greatest pieces of information I ever ingested. As he
points out, fear is your friend not your enemy. Fear is the acid
test. without the fear there would be no progression.
Stu: Thanks so much for this chat, there's much to think on in it. If anyone wants to get in touch with you now how do they do that?
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