Tulum, Mexico 2011 Photo credit - Fonze

45, 20, 25


Today we celebrate what would have been Sensei Cameron’s 45th Birthday. It’s hard to imagine what he would have thought about being 45. He didn’t really like the focus and attention on him, and liked to keep his birthdays very low key, but he always seemed younger than his age. He credited the energy the kids gave him for this, but thinking about all that he achieved in his life, he kind of aged in reverse. 

At 40, he lived like he was 20. By then he was 6 years into the brain cancer diagnosis that was supposed to give him 6 months to a year, and still finding ways to squeeze as much life and adventure into whatever time he had left (which was, incidentally, a year). He was travelling like he was 20. He was taking risks like he was 20. He’d given up the mortgage and was living in the rented bachelor pad in the city. He’d shed the shackles that had been his young hopes and dreams of the happy house, family, kids and a dog, when he accepted that he wasn’t going to live into his forties and fifties. But he didn’t give up. He shifted gears. He was working like a younger man with nothing but time to burn, running his superhero school, working at his paediatric clinic, running the Bullying Revolution, writing books, speaking at conferences, and establishing the foundation that he called Impossible Co. He worked bloody hard until he couldn’t. But he was also having fun like there was no tomorrow, because he knew there wasn’t. 

And at 20 he was probably more like 45.


He was settled, in a long term relationship, with a happy home and a very clear view of his future. He’d had his midlife career change at 19, switching degrees away from design engineering to physiotherapy. At 45, people tend to reach a point where they have the experience to draw on and demonstrate the expertise in their chosen field. Sensei Cameron had that at 20. By then he had 15 years experience in martial arts, and was ready to take a stand against the inequities and toxic culture he saw in the industry to embark on a reimagined school, karate but better, a school that didn’t foster talent and ego, but nurtured and created superheroes out of ordinary kids and the most vulnerable underdogs. His lived experience as a kid who’d experienced bullying and health issues throughout his young life was behind his driving passion to make a difference. 

Sensei Cameron founded Paragon at age 20.

That means that this year, we at Paragon will be celebrating our 25th year of creating superheroes. Every time we celebrate a Paragon milestone, it is impossible not to think of Sensei Cameron as that 20 year old man, still a boy really, when we look around at the young people carrying on his legacy, or maybe they just seem so young because we are ageing too. He was 20, with bold dreams and vision way beyond his years, with courage to take the risk of leaving something he knew, because he believed he could create something better.

He did.


Celebrating Sensei Cameron’s 45th birthday this week marks the start of our celebration of 25 years of Paragon. A quarter of a century of creating superheroes.

Sensei Cameron wanted to make as big a positive impact on the world as possible. He showed that his determination and dedication well outpaced the expected level of physical fitness that is considered the norm. The phrase “You are not in your twenties anymore!” did not apply to Sensei Cameron. He became a superhero early in his life, constantly defying the expectations of others.

We have previously shared the stories of how doctors doubted his ability to recover from a broken back and continue karate. And how he decided to not only prove them wrong and earn a black belt in a new style of martial arts (having already achieved black belt in Karate), but also to take up weight-lifting. He must have thought, “How else can I prove these doctors wrong? I know! I’ll compete in weight-lifting and not only show that I can put weight through my back but I can win a weight-lifting tournament!”  Wild impossibilities were just ‘normal’ with Sensei Cameron.

He taught us that normal is a matter of perspective. Which, incidentally is the approach he also took on the perspective of a Paragon Black Belt. The Black Belt gradings of Paragon always aimed at showing the individual’s Black Belt version of themselves. We loved that about Paragon Black Belt graduations, and that still continues today. No single Black Belt grading is the same; every one gives the opportunity for each individual to push themselves to their own Black Belt level.

He achieved several black belt levels, demonstrating physical superhero powers. At Paragon, he took on the title of Sensei, demonstrating a shift from focus on himself to focus on others. He was no longer a multi-degree Black Belt; he was simply a Teacher, the Japanese term – Sensei.

He became a paediatric physio to help kids with additional needs achieve their goals using his unique kindness and skill. He then focused more and more on what else he could do to make a positive impact on the world. He realised that he was just one person, but if he could help others become superheroes, then the impact they could make together was limitless. So the Superhero School idea was born. 

Creating Superheroes

Sensei Cameron went beyond the scope of teaching people to be martial artists, and towards creating superheroes. You will see this in the curriculum of Paragon – each student not only learns karate; they learn to be a superhero with topics like Super Mind, Super Body, Super Action. 

Give a person a fish and they will eat for a day; teach a person to fish and they will eat for a lifetime. Actually, Sensei would prefer the phrase, “Give a person a carrot and they will eat for a day; teach a person to garden and they will eat for a lifetime.”  

Sensei Cameron also focused on creating creators of superheroes – he called them Superneers (Engineers of Superheroes). They are our Paragon Teaching Team. They carry on the legacy of creating Superheroes.

When we think about the 25 years of Paragon, we see the thousands of superheroes that Sensei Cameron created. All of the thousands of students he worked with are a part of Paragon’s legacy, Sensei Cameron’s legacy. His decades of years of teaching, the number of new students who join us every year, the natural attrition as some kids move on to another activity, or outgrow karate, or leave the area. The teens who move away to go to uni or work, and the new kids joining every year. The ones who stay beyond their achievement of black belt, and the second generation families now bringing their own kids.

All of them are Sensei Cameron’s Paragon Superheroes, spreading their super out in the world. Think of the power of that! Thousands of superheroes making thousands of positive impacts in the world everyday! Sensei Cameron would be so proud of them all.


Photo Credit – Fontaine Dunstan (Thank you Fonze <3 )

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