bio03 bio04 Malaysia Welcomes Dave Lea bio06 bio009 Dave with the Camden Warriors The HKD Warriors Madness band members Suggs (Graham McPherson) and Chas Smash (Cathal Smyth) scan0002150

Dave Lea grew up in North London in a world filled with excitement and adventure. At a young age, as an outlet for his energy, he attended a local karate school. On learning some basic moves, he went round to his sister Sandra’s home and made her stand still while he zapped untrained and uncontrolled kicks and punches at her.

From the karate school, he moved on to learn kung–fu and tae kwon–do in the north and south of England. Still not content, he boarded a plane to Malaysia to further his studies. He served his time well in Malaysia under a very special teacher — Master Leong Swee Lun.

While most of the UK martial artists were studying one style, Dave went to learn all he could, be it in the temples of Penang with the monks at 5:00am or the jungles in the surrounding area with the Animalistic fighting Silat groups. It all added to his early days of learning.

He met guru Dan Inosanto (student of the late Bruce Lee) in London, who invited him to Los Angeles to train at his famous Inosanto Academy where he was further inspired. After many years of travelling and learning from the top masters of all styles in combat (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Sian), his years of Wing–Chun under Joseph Cheng, Shaolin under Leong Swee Lun and a very unique and undiluted style with Sifu Leung (from China) it all came together for Dave after his visit to Dan Inosanto’s Academy, where he was given a real education in fighting — they just beat him up. Respectfully, of course. They were trained in various styles, and so the choice not to spend his time to master one style, but to learn as many as he could, paid off.

While in Malaysia he was taught to use a formidable array of weapons and learned the culture well. On his return to London he branched out with his schools from Camden Town Headquarters to Manor House, Walthamstow and Gants Hill. That was a long time after he got tired of teaching in back alleys, climbing school yard fences on weekends and parks where he gathered with a close group of students.

His first celebrity students were the nutty boys from Camden: Suggs, Chaz and Lee of Madness, who introduced him to the world of television through Just Amazing and their pop video Wings of a Dove and an appearance on Top Of The Pops with Driving In My Car.

Some of the other interesting students/visitors who came to his academy included Constables from the local police station, United States Marines (who were stationed at the London US embassy), cast member of the Blackadder television show, Hugh Laurie, Jimmy Sommerville, Bronski Beat and a multitude of top martial artists from many schools and styles.

Dave’s first television role was playing a karate instructor on a BBC show called Salt On A Snakes Tale. From there he entered into bodyguard/minding work with a then famous Page 3 model, and also some other high profile people, who encouraged him to get a theatrical agent. He auditioned and got a recurring role on EastEnders playing Gaz at the Dagmar Pub. He then landed the prestigious role in the first Batman movie when his long time friend, Phil Tan, recommended him to the producer, Jon Peters, where he ended up being the stunt fight double for Michael Keaton. That role led him to Hollywood, where he did his first action movie with his screen idol Sly Stallone. Hired as Sly’s fight trainer, and to choreograph the moves, Dave had made a dream come true to work with his Rocky hero.

Though not content to help double for Kurt Russell, train Sly and choreograph his fight moves, Dave wanted to be in the movie, so he suggested to Sly that they both have a fight at the end scene of Tango & Cash. Dave took a serious beating from him — one of many to come!

Since then Dave has gone on to sharpen his camera/fighting skills in Hollywood. He continues to teach stunt fighting classes in Hollywood on weekends. He has worked with the ‘A’ list of the big screen actors, while his passion for creating unique fighting styles for each actor/actress is continually challenged as the level of action is demanded for realism by the audience.

His early time in Los Angeles was spent going to acting classes, improving his speech and learning various accents to improve his own performances as an action actor. He learned the finer points of action choreography from legendary stunt people like James Arnett (director/2nd unit director who stunt doubled Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy) and from Charles Picerni (director/2nd unit director of some of the biggest action movies).

Dave continues to stay motivated and searches for new and innovative ways to enhance the action. No two actors are the same, and Dave creates different styles of action for every film, whether it’s a low budget Indie or a high end studio budget. Dave said: “When your passion is in the action, the fights and stunts will be true and real. I have learned from some of the best teachers out there. The least I can do is hold on to what they taught me. More so, I learned from all the students who have trained under me. In many ways they were my best teachers.”

Dave added: “My mother had a tremendous influence on my physical and stretching abilities. She would do the splits and kick above her head, just because she could. She was so amazing. So really she was the greatest inspiration of all, and continues to be.”

Dave continues to train himself. He said: “It becomes a lifestyle and a wonderful challenge to keep the physical ability of kicking, stretching and keeping finely tuned to what works.”

When it comes to movie fighting, he researches and creates the more unusual styles of fighting. He also took up Latin dancing to improve his choreography. Dave develops unique and explosive moves that even the most uncoordinated actor can perform to give a sense of reality to their performance and action scenes.

Guru Dan Inosanto The late Master Leung Dave Lea in Malaysia, Trophies never did pay the bills! HKD Gants Hill Class HKD Walthamstow Dave's Camden School Even the local police visited for training "By the way Dave you have 3 parking tickets." Dave with the Marines outside the US Embassy in London "That's close enough." Dave teaches the US Marines a thing or two. "See no wires."