“Aggression has always been a part of my life,” says Neil Axe and it is not difficult to see why.
A victim of child abuse, Neil was just a five-year-old boy when he was first struck by his father.
It was a blow but nothing that compared to the ‘life changing’ one dealt to him when his sister, Susan, died in 1993, when he was 28.
Seven years his elder, Ms Axe’s death was a complicated matter. After breaking up with her boyfriend in July 1992, Susan’s lodger became infatuated with her, leading to him allegedly stabbing her.
While she survived the incident, Ms Axe was left in permanent fear and prior to the case going to court in January 1993, she hung herself.
Neil said: “We had a nice Christmas but she had obviously made her mind up that was what she would do.”
However, Ms Axe was revived following the at`tempt on her own life and it was Neil who had to make the decision to ‘pull the plug’ after little sign that she would recover.
“It was life changing,” he said.
“It either drags you down and kills you or it makes you who you are. I took it one way initially.
“Everything about me totally changed overnight. I was not the nicest of people. However, after a few years I bounced back.”
Bouncing back for Neil has seen him now launch Master Axe Foundation, a place which helps deal with misbehaving and violent pupils by teaching them self-discipline through martial arts and further studies.
Despite being locally known, it was in the years proceeding Susan’s death that Neil was at his most recognisable.
Having spent the years prior to Susan’s death desperately trying to become noticed, Neil eventually had a video game based on his own life, released in 1993.
Entitled Master Axe and released by Amega, Neil acted out the moves for the game which were then encoded for it.
Despite the success Neil said it just felt as if he was on ‘auto-pilot’.
“It was a very black time. On the front of it I wanted to project I was bulletproof. But nothing really felt relevant.”
Just as Aylesbury had allowed him to start ‘afresh’ when he first moved to the Vale at 17, so it did again when he relocated back to the town with his wife and two sons in 2002.
With his sons, Neil released BBC show Masters of Combat to considerable yet short lived success.
However, his true passion lay in helping children avoid the violence and bullying he had encountered, leading to the development of the foundation.
Earlier this year, the charity was recognised as the community company of the year in the Pride in Aylesbury Awards.
It was only a year after the business had officially launched.
“It was overnight success which took eight years to get there,” quips Neil.
The foundation operates as a basis of the pupil referral unit, where troublesome students go throughout their school week to learn self-disciplines.
“The trick is trying to convince schools that martial arts can be good for bad boys.”
It is a bold move but the charity is growing rapidly with help from throughout the community.
While Neil could have followed his father’s abusive example it is something he has battled against.
“It’s like I tell all of these kids, don’t let life beat you down.”
For more information on the foundation visit www.masteraxe.org