What had been the spark that lit your fire for Martial Arts and Taekwondo especially?
Well I started martial arts at 15. Most think sooner because of my dad being a martial artist himself (Master Gary Gassor 8th Dan), but I wasn’t drawn to it before that and my dad never pushed me to do it either. I was always sporty and just eventually found my way to it from wanting to stay fit. After a few sessions, I was hooked and it swiftly became a passion. I have been training now for over 15 years and love martial arts more than ever.
Can you explain how you got into the flip/tricking side of things?
Well I just wanted to test my body limitations as I was doing the most advanced kicks in the syllabus and needed more of a challenge. I watched videos and just tried to emulate moves that I liked the look of with like minded friends. I am a martial artist first though and I'm not deluded to think that these moves are going to be used in a real fight. But what I do take from tricking and I enjoy, is that it's challenging for my body so if i can do advanced kicks or flip kicks with control, form and power, then obviously the basics are going to be up to scratch as well.
How did ‘Ginger Ninja Trickster’ and your popular YouTube channel come about?
People called me the ‘Ginger Ninja’ from training in martial arts and having ginger hair. I just added trickster to play on words withtricking, the flipping side and someone who plays tricks. I probably would have thought of something better in hindsight but it is what it is (laugh). As for it getting popular, I made a video just to show the level I had got to and to inspire my students to work hard to become better than myself. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got from people all over the world and many of them requested if I could make tutorials to help them achieve moves I was doing. So I did… and it just progressed from there. So I guess you can say it just felt like the right thing to do and happened, but with a lot of hard work along the way.
What are your favorite styles and what is a Martial Arts Style that you never felt in love with?
My favourite styles are ITF Taekwon-Do and Kickboxing. I do enjoy a variety of other martial arts though, as it’s nice to understand different ways of doing things and to be more adaptable to different situations. I’m going to be diplomatic and say that I think all martial arts have a place for someone, and for different reasons, so it would be unfair to put someone off because of my own opinions.
What had been the circumstances to become a Stunt Performer for the movie industry and what was your first movie?
After training with Scott Adkins and becoming good friends, he got me in to be part of the movie ‘Eliminators’. I was involved in two fights and really enjoyed it. Soon after, I was brought in as a specialist for ‘Wonder Woman’ by the stunt coordinator and good friend, Marcus Shakesheff. I mention that one too as this was more of the full experience of being a stunt performer.
What has been the biggest success in your career so far?
I’ve been blessed to have success in many different ways so it’s hard to narrow it down. YouTube is what triggered and brought about a lot of opportunities for me, so achieving the 1 Million subscriber milestone on my YouTube channel, ‘Ginger Ninja Trickster’ was a big achievement and meant a lot. My favourite martial arts action star, Scott Adkins, messaging me to train with him and then becoming good friends was and still is insane to me. Doing the opening performance at a Jean Claude Van Damme event. Doubling Sir Elton John in Kingsman 2 was unreal and crazy fun. Becoming the first global ambassador for Century Martial Arts after using BOB religiously over the years. There are plenty more I’m missing but the stand out one for me is being inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame the same time as my dad and sharing that moment with him.
What was your most memorable fight in your career so far and who is the biggest martial arts star you had been working with?
In terms of fighting in competition, it was when I was in a final match against the current world champion. I was winning after the first round but lost after the second. It was memorable for me as I was more skilled ability wise, but his tactics and experience trumped that. Afterwards, It really made me think more and to analyse everything to the finest detail to get the most out of my performance. I think that it’s really cool that something that seemed so negative at first, made me a better fighter and coach. As for on screen fighting, I would have to say there are two. The first is the fight scene I did with Scott. It felt unreal. I watched and idolised him for years, then I’m fighting him in a movie. Crazy! The second was doubling Sir Elton John in Kingsman 2. It was the craziest outfit, I had platforms, feather suit, a diamond cap and glasses. I got my trademark flying side kick in the movie and was shocked when people recognized it was mine before I even announced I was involved. I guess the most known martial arts star I have worked with is Van Damme. I did an opening performance for him at an event.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
That would be my dad (Master Gary Gassor 8th Dan). He’s just the perfect role model and a fount of knowledge. He’s 60 years young now, he can still do splits, cool kicks and he trains more than I do. (laughs) I hope that I can be half the instructor my father is and be able to do the things that he can do when I’m his age. I also respect the journey he has had so far and the way he and my mother have built up something really special out of absolutely nothing. He’s always been the biggest inspiration for me and has moulded me into the man that I am today. So for me, who could I possibly compare him to or say that comes close to that…
Do you run your own martial arts school?
Yes, we have a family run martial arts academy. My dad, my mum (Kay Gassor), myself and my two sisters Leanne and Emma are all involved. My dad is an 8th Dan as previously mentioned, my sister Leanne Gassor-Jones is a 5th Dan and I'm a 3rd Dan. My mum and sister Emma work at the reception.
Do you think, that the recent COVID-19 situation will change the way of how Martial Arts schools/gyms will offer classes longterm and what could be the biggest challenge?
I think people who didn’t want to adapt to online teaching have in some way had to. I think that this will also continue to some extent after we return to normal. The main challenge for most is remaining openuntil this situation improves. After that, I think that there will be many restrictions that will have to be addressed so it is safe for our staff and students to return. I believe that being taught in person cannot be best though, so I have no doubt that people will return when they can.
It seem to be that Racism is taking a bigger part in the world again – what is your experience in the Martial Arts World, when it comes to this topic?
Thankfully, I haven’t experienced anybody being racist in the martial arts community. If I did, it would definitely be something that I would challenge, as I’ve always felt strongly about it. Even more so now, as my girlfriend and children are of colour. I think that judging someone by the color of their skin is absolutely ludicrous.
You had been on the first official Martial Arts SuperShow in Europe 2018 in Dortmund and got the Social Media Award/BOBscar. This year the MA SuperShow in Las Vegas had to be changed into a Virtual Summit. Are you involved in it and what are you doing for it?
Yeah, it was a fantastic event and was honored to receive an award too. It’s a shame we can’t all meet up in person in Las Vegas due to current events but hopefully next year. As for this year, I was asked to take a 45 minute slot for the online event and gladly accepted. I will be teaching some advanced kicks, breaking them down into stages so all levels can follow along and hopefully have a lot of fun.
What is your future plan in combination of Martial Arts and Media Industry? Is there a role that you would like to be casted for?
On the social media side, I will continue doing what I’m doing, having fun making various types of video and offering free teaching content on YouTube. But I will be offering courses soon that will be even more professional and more specific for what people want. In terms of stunt performing and acting, I’m always up for new challenges and relish the opportunity for new exciting experiences. As for a movie part, nothing specific, I just want to be involved in more action and fight scenes, whether that be as a stunt performer or actor.
You have a lot of fans. Do you see yourself as a role model and if so, how have you tried to adjust your behavior?
I do, it's quite crazy to actually have fans, still feels weird now. I try to be a good person, most importantly for myself and family. But I do try extra hard in videos or when I’m around fans to stay professional and to influence them in a positive way.
What advice would you give to those who would like to emulate your success?
Be open to advice, however listen to your heart. Be prepared to work hard for what you believe in and want to achieve. If something knocks you back, be resilient and use that experience to adjust your path and keep building to where you want to be. If you succeed with your micro goals and main goal, good on you. But, you now have to be even more motivated to aim for the next step or challenge.