Robert McInnes, the prominent Pattaya businessman and self-styled kung fu master, recently released on Bt100,000 bail after being arrested on firearms charges, may not be all that he represented himself as being, recent evidence suggests.
The evidence from the investigation into the background of Robert ‘Sifu’ McInnes by the New Zealand Sunday Newspaper, NZ Herald, reveals that McInnes’ supposedly exalted kung fu credentials, specifically having been Shaolin-trained, may not actually be true. Instead, McInnes joins the ranks of the Pattaya ‘Walter Mitties’, fabricating exalted martial arts’ credentials for himself.
To have undergone the rigorous martial arts training at the Shaolin Temple, renowned fifteen hundred-year-old home of kung fu, would be sufficient to establish the credentials of any aspirant kung fu master, which is what McInnes claimed for himself. He maintains that he had penetrated deep into Northern China in the 1960s, to learn the ways of Sir Dorr (Way of the Snake) from Shaolin warrior monks, but evidence at his 1989 firearms trial, proves instead that he was studying maths and English at Wesley and De La Salle Colleges, Auckland, at the time. Rick Littlewood, a Judo “sensei” who has known McInnes for 25 years, said he was “all talk”. Another bona fide martial arts expert, Nigel Hay, chief instructor for the New Zealand Karate Association said of McInnes “He wanted to be Rambo. He was too young to be ‘the master’,” he claimed to be.”
In Auckland, New Zealand in the late 1980s, McInnes inevitably attracted thousands of like-minded souls, who, mesmerized by the media glorification of kung fu, flocked to his grandiose-sounding extreme ‘Sir Dorr’ brand of kung fu. He apparently insisted his acolytes shave off their hair and swear allegiance to him, even beating their heads bloody against the floor to improve their chi, and self-discipline. These “head-banger” acolytes, with signature scars on their foreheads, were then contracted out as bouncers. Karate expert Hay asserts ”He was trying to be a guru to those young lads.”
McInnes also tried to impress his own kung fu instructors and peers at the New Zealand Karate Association. Chief instructor Nigel Hay recalls “I remember one day we were walking to the pub after training and he started trying to walk up walls, it was just bizarre … I think he made up a lot of the stuff he claimed to have done, ” the NZ Herald on Sunday reported.
In common with many self-proclaimed experts, McInnes adopted a heavy-handed approach to his training, sometimes going way beyond safety conventions. At his trial it was recounted how, in July 1989, he once used live-fire exercises to toughen up his trainees in their “adrenalin training, shooting .22 rifle bullets, some as near as 40cm, from the water-filled ditch where three trainees were almost immersed. Following this, he forced the three to attempt to swim across the flooded Waiwera River, but, due to the inclement weather and strong current, one of the trainees, 17-year-old Jason Dooley, was swept away and drowned. “Although he was never charged over the drowning, McInnes was sentenced to 10-months’ periodic detention for discharging a weapon likely to endanger the life of his students,” the NZ Herald on Sunday reported.
Evidently, as his notorious trip around Pattaya shows, tooled up as if for urban guerilla warfare, McInnes is still suffering from severe delusions of grandeur as a ‘super’, but highly dangerous, ‘martial arts warrior’.