Interview with Chloe Bruce
Chloe has been a Martial Artist since the age of 8, gaining 12 World titles and numerous British and European titles in a competitive career which spanned over 20 years. She holds 3 Guinness World Records and has created her own Training Academy, so others can follow in her footsteps.
Chloe really has dedicated her life to the pursuit of success, she also is a very successful female Stunt Performer doubling some of Hollywood’s most famous actresses, and all this while being an awesome Mum of two. Fit for Films have been lucky enough to spend some time with Chloe to get some insights into this very successful and inspirational female, hopefully helping to show others what is possible if you set your mind to it.
Chloe what got you interested in Martial Arts and what style did you do first?
I originally started training, following the footsteps of my Dad and Brother. The style they were training in was Tang Soo Do, which is a Korean Martial art. I went along to spectate a few times, and soon after, I asked my parents if I could join also.
You won your first World Title at such a young age, how did that feel and how did that compare to winning the World Titles later in your life?
My ﬁrst World Title will always have a special place in my heart. I was a complete underdog, and went into the Worlds with no expectations, other than to perform to the full potential I knew I was capable of.
In the preliminary round I actually went through qualifying in 4th place, I think the pressure got to me, as I forgot my routine and free-styled it pretty much from the word go.
However, being the determined little girl I was, I now knew I had the potential to get a place on the podium. Over the next few days I dug deep within, and kept focused on the end goal. I performed my heart out. It was as if my body took over, I couldn’t hear anything other than my music, I couldn’t see anything and I ended up winning the Under 16’s World Championships at just 14 years old. That feeling of standing on the podium, listening to my National Anthem, whilst my parents were in the audience crying tears of happiness, was a memory I will never ever forget.
World Championships, after that year, (1996) were never the same. I was the one to beat, I had something to lose, I had no choice but to stay on top of the game. So training became harder, and competitions were a lot more stressful. I learned how to control my nerves and turn them into good energy, and from that moment onwards, I was addicted, I wanted to stay at the top.
How much training does it take to become a World Champion and did you ever feel before you retired about just giving it all up, why did you retire when you did?
I trained for 5 hours every week day, from 4pm straight after School, until 9pm. Saturdays were 3 hours 8am-11am and then Sundays were a day of rest.
When I was 17 years old, my Tang Soo Do School shut down. So from that moment onwards, my Dad became my full-time trainer. It was then that I lost focus a little. All my friends were turning 18 and started going out, started working and earning some money, and of course, like any other person of that age, I felt like I was missing out. I was questioning my Dad as to what the end goal was constantly, and I lost faith a little within myself. All of a sudden I felt confused as to where I was heading, or why I had committed my whole childhood to training.
Without the support from my Dad, and his belief in me and my talent, I deﬁnitely wouldn’t have got through that tough period like I did. I may have even thrown it all away. I needed to hear his words of encouragement and his belief that my career may take a lot longer to kick start than my friends outside training, but it will be worth it. To this day, he wasn’t wrong.
I decided to retire from competing when I did (2011) because my work was so busy, that I didn’t have the time needed to dedicate to training to be able to stay at the top. I wanted to ﬁnish as World Champion, I wanted to end my competitive career on a high as I was undefeated. So after winning the British Championships and Irish Open Championships in 2011, I called it a day.
Martial Arts is obviously a passion of yours but what has kept you focussed and driven to achieve such high accolades over such a long period of time. What recommendations could you give for staying focussed?
CHANGE. Some people hate it, but I love it.
For me changing up my training methods, changing path slightly, changing up my food intake, changing and moving my end goals, is all what keeps me motivated and driven. If not, I get too stagnant, and that doesn’t sit very well with me. I love learning and evolving within my studies. So anytime I lose focus for a moment, whether that be on a certain training plan, career path, or new study, I leave that where it is, and start a fresh with something new and exciting, then go back to the previous as and when I feel ready to, and when I have my full concentration back to do so. That has always been the way I avoid losing focus for too long. I love change, I embrace it, and it excites me.
Chloe talk to us about your mindset, did you have a mental routine that you went through before competition, how did you control the nerves/fears. Has that changed over the years and do you think that helped in your transition into stunts.
I just need to get in the “zone.”
It started when I was on the British Team, a young girl who had everyone chasing my tail. I would walk into the arena with conﬁdence, place my headphones on and I would just switch oﬀ, block everything and everyone out. I would listen to music that meant a lot to me, music that drove me, and just focus on what I needed to do. I wouldn’t even watch previous competitors in my division. Some people would say that is bad sportsmanship, but to me, I didn’t want to hear or see anything that would interfere with my positive headspace.
After my ﬁrst World Championships when I let my nerves and adrenaline get the better of me, I never allowed that to happen again.
I learned over the years how to control them, so that on competition day they enhanced my performance. So yes, that has deﬁnitely helped with my Stunt career too. I would go quiet, get in the zone, and only listen to the people I need to listen to, that being the Coordinator, Fight Coordinator or Head Rigger. The rest is all down to my chain of thought and knowing when to switch on, and perform.
I get so much reward from doing myself proud, for doing my team proud. The day I don’t get nervous, or a rush of adrenaline from my sport, or my career, is the day I will totally quit.
Flexibility question:- Who does a better scorpion kick you or Cynthia Rothrock? Do you believe there is a natural flexibility or can anyone achieve this range of flexibility, a 42 year old friend wants to know ☺.
HAHAHA so many people ask this question, so I am glad we are here!
So just to clarify, Cynthia Rothrock and myself both do the scorpion kick diﬀerently. My kick comes up from behind with my knee facing upwards, and extend that way over my head attacking with the ball of the foot. Cynthia, brings her kick up from behind, with her knee facing down to attack over her head with the heel of the foot. (Hope that makes sense) So I have to say we both do an AWESOME scorpion kick! 😛
I don’t believe you need a natural level of ﬂexibility to do this, however you do need to be able to do hyper split (Go past 180 degrees).
Natural ﬂexibility to me, is what you are born with. It is down to the individual as to how/if they use and develop this ﬂexibility or not. Which is still hard work. Even if you are born naturally ﬂexible, you will lose this ﬂexibility if you don’t use it.
So for a 42 year old to gain this level of ﬂexibility it will be down to his/her past, their history of sports, whether or not they had splits previously and how much strength work they have done over the years. Strength work without stretching will really decrease ﬂexibility. Same as if you do a lot of repetitive strength work with one muscle but do not work the opposing muscles. There will be an imbalance and lack of ﬂexibility also. So can’t really give a deﬁnite answer on here. Sorry! 🙂
How did you get into the film industry?
I got into the ﬁlm industry in 2010 when I heard through a friend of mine, Mike Lambert, (Stuntman and Fight Coordinator), that Disney’s John Carter of Mars, was auditioning for Martial Artists to be special extras doing some background sword action.
I auditioned, and got the part as a Special Extra. It was an amazing experience, and I met so many awesome people. From there, I then got asked to be a Stunt Double for Paul Jennings on Wrath of the Titans, and I literally haven’t looked back. It’s been an incredible journey, and one in which I am forever grateful.
Do you have a stand out moment in your career as a Stunt Performer, what film was it on and what were you doing?
I think being a Martial Artists, it had to be when I was asked to double Daisy Ridley on Star Wars the Force awakens. I will never forget how excited I was that I was going to be ﬁghting with a lightsaber and a bo staﬀ! My inner geek totally got the better of me. I did some awesome stunts on that job too, and travelled to some of the most amazing locations. Memories to last a lifetime!
High level Martial Artists seem to make the transition to screen fighting quite easy especially from an XMA background, several world class XMA fighters have gone on to become World Class Stunt Performers, why do you think that is?
Totally! Well for those of you that don’t know. XMA is a form or kata (performance) which is performed and choreographed to music. (A bit like a gymnastics ﬂoor routine) We also perform in front of large audiences, as a solo performer.
So the main thing that I have found with the transition is that we pick up and learn ﬁght choreography very quickly. Especially in situations where you only have 1 or 2 days to learn a long ﬁght, then perform it in front of a whole camera crew. You are used to doing this and don’t let your nerves or adrenaline get the better of you.
You are also used to adapting on the spot, so if the Director wants to take a section away, or add a section in at the last minute, that really doesn’t phase us as we are used to changing and adapting to our competitive surroundings.
What do you do to stay fit and healthy and how has that changed since becoming a Mum, how do you fit it all in?
I just love a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle. I ﬁnd that works best for me. My body doesn’t adapt well to diets. Over the years my weight has yoyoed, sometimes I have had to lose a lot of weight very quickly, and it hasn’t been good for me mentally or physically.
So the last time I did this, was ﬁlming Guardians of the Galaxy, and after that I promised myself I would never diet like that again.
Since then, I have eaten everything in moderation, and exercised regularly. I don’t need long training sessions, but hiit style sessions really work for me and I can now get toned very easily.
Since becoming a mum, I have had to focus a lot on the mental aspect of my health. Ways to stay focused and on track, but also be the best mum I can be. I had to learn how to slow down, even though I wanted to be running, I had to learn that small steps were ok.
My life changed drastically overnight, so that is why I decided to do my Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training course. I’ve always enjoyed Yoga and the feeling I had every time I had ﬁnished a class, so I wanted to do the course to ﬁnd out what it was that helped me, and how I can potentially help others unwind from the chaotic daily life that we all seem to live in the UK. It has helped in more ways than one, and I am now so much more aware of the importance of correct breathing patterns, and body imbalances. There is so much more to yoga than just the poses that you learn.
Chloe you have achieved so much in your life what advice can you give to young Dream Chasers?
I would say that the importance of small steady goals are so powerful.
Sometimes your end vision can get so overwhelming, that in doing so, it actually slows you down. Instead I would know what the end vision is, put that to the back of your mind, and attack it in daily or weekly small steps. That is how I have achieved all of my success and more.
The other thing is to believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone dim your light, and always know that continued small steps will keep you on the right path.
Life is totally what you make of it. Sometimes I have periods whereby I am so unproductive with my business, however I am being productive as a mother instead. So I think we just need to learn how to prioritise and realise that priorities change, and going back to my earlier answer. Change is GOOD. Embrace it.
Who has inspired you?
My inspiration comes from my parents. My rocks, and my hero’s. The 2 people who have believed in me when I have lost belief in myself. The 2 people I owe my whole career to. They inspired me so much growing up, and supported me every step of the way. They encouraged me to go out into the World and attack everything face on. They gave me the strength I needed to do just that, and they taught me the importance of trust, loyalty and faith. I am the women I am today because of them, and I can only hope to be the same inspiration to my children when they grow up.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
The main project I am working on is the Chloe Bruce Academy. Which is an Online Martial Arts and Flexibility Academy, with expert-led tuition for all levels.
I will soon be integrating my yoga into this, and developing programs so students can train and grade online with me within the Academy. This is also to include live classes and weapons programs too.
I owe so much to my sport and I love to inspire the next generation of students, so to me this project holds such a special place in my heart.
I have also been appointed Chief GB coach and head referee for Kata and forms, which is just incredible, and I am honored to be back on the competition scene, but seeing it from a whole new perspective. It is incredible. Watching the new generation grow and evolve is what it is all about!