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Maria Rich (Gibilisco)
is a World champion for Kyokushin Full Contact Karate.
The first World Champion Australia was to produce. She has been training in Karate since she was eight years old and by the age of twelve was training five nights per week while other children were playing. Even as a child she took her karate seriously, traveling regularly on weeknights as far as Geelong to train from Moonee Ponds where she grew up. As a teenager she often defeated the boys in semi-contact championships and won numerous non-contact divisions until reaching the legal age for full contact fighting.
At fifteen years of age she became one of the youngest people to gain a Kyokushin Black Belt completing all of the forty fights at the end of a grueling five-hour grading. Maria debuted into full contact placing second in the South Australian State Championships and followed that with a second place in the National championships.
She then went on to win the interstate championships in '92 and fought undefeated through'93 with wins in the Victorian, South Australian and New South Wales championships and finished the year by defeating the National Champion to win the Australian Kyokushin Full Contact Championships.
She remains undefeated in Australia having won five National Championships since then plus the New Zealand International Tournament of 1996. In 1996 Maria traveled to New York to compete in the First Women's World Tournament where she was penalized for an alleged face punch and finished in 6th place.
The following year she fought in the World weight Category tournament in Tokyo Japan and was crowned World Champion.
Maria added to her long list of successes by dropping the weight to win in the middle weight division at the 1999 Nationals. Maria is a founding partner of the Fighting Arts Fitness Centre where she teaches other successful fighters . The Gibilisco name is well known throughout the Martial Arts community with her and her sister both continuously taking the trophies. Maria's teaching ability and knowledge of both Karate and Self Defense techniques has lead her to become a role model to both men and women who are striving to achieve a dream of only half of what Maria has already achieved.
As well as being ranked number one in the world after winning the ‘97 world tournament she has been decorated with prestigious awards such as the Blitz hall of fame award '95 and '97. Maria has appeared in magazines and newspapers such as Blitz magazine and Inside Sport, as well as radio, pay TV and television performing feats of strength and technique such as breaking a baseball bat with her shin.
A feat she incredibly performs with both lower and upper roundhouse kicks and doubled to break two at a time with a single kick
Maria is currently a 4th Dan teaching both children and adults at the FAFC
first walked into a Kyokushin Dojo in 1991. Classes were held in the Eltham Leisure centre Fridays and the Community hall on Mondays. It was a Friday night and Peter had given in to pressure by his older brother Andrew to just try it. With no previous Martial Arts experience besides teenage backyard brawling he really had no idea of what was involved. Sempai Elica Georgevski (now Sensei Elica Thompson) normally instructed classes but on Peters first night Sensei George Kolovos took the class and instantly captured Peters imagination.
"I was sure Sensei George was six and a half feet tall. He had this presence about him, of strength. "
The hard physical training and strong regimentation struck a nerve in Peter and he was surprised at how enjoyable all the hard work actually was. So Peter continued training under Sempai Elica but was an unreliable student and certainly not naturally gifted and after only six months training had a lay off while he traveled around Australia for several months. Shortly after his return he traveled with the group to watch the 1993 South Australian Championships and was so inspired that his training suddenly changed and he started training constantly in classes and at home.
It was around this time that Eltham Dojo moved into a factory in Brougham Street and more classes were available. Peters whole life became Karate with other training partners such as Andrew Perret and Dean Motschall to spur him on. Weekends and holidays meant a chance to escape to the bush of Panton Hill or the dead pine forest at Eildon.
In the bush they would smash logs ,kick the trees ,break the rocks and sprint to the mountain top to pump out basics in the rain. Peter was constantly trying to make up for his late start and poor flexibility with hard training always running the hill one more time after everyone else had stopped. His hard training was recognized by his instructors and they awarded him the 1994 Eltham Student of the Year.
Peter started to enter every tournament and was without a loss in full contact for his first twenty fights. Peter also became a valuable member in the Eltham Ippon team which managed to win four consecutive Teams Championships and the AKKA Ippon Shobu Teams Tournament.
Peter was no longer just training at Eltham but was traveling to Ascot Vale to train with Sempai Maria Gibilisco and to the city to train with Sensei George Kolovos. As a member of Sensei Georges Fighting Squad there were huge demands put on the fighters and a high dropout rate. As his experience and weight increased he moved through the divisions. In 1995 he moved up to the Open division and realised just how far there really was to go after getting knocked out in only ten seconds by a knee to the jaw by Simon Falzon in Griffith. He then went home again without a trophy after being defeated by a much more experienced David McGovern. In that same year he went to New York as coach to Sempai Maria Gibilisco in the 1st Womens World Tournament where she placed fourth.
In 1996 he entered the New Zealand International tournament and was pushed up into the Heavyweight division by changed cut off weights and had his eyes opened to the hard hits of the Heavyweights in the final by Richard Hood . He took second place but also won the Tamashiwari Division by breaking 21 boards in four strikes.
1996 also saw him win the Full Contact Karate Cup , place 3rd in the Ultimate Challenge and grade to Shodan (Black Belt). He narrowly missed selection for the World Weight Category Tournament but traveled as assistant coach for Maria Gibilisco who won the Womens Heavyweight division.
His teaching started as a Green Belt teaching the Eltham Kids and has seen him teach in Williamstown and Moonee Ponds including the B squad, a group of up and coming fighters from Sensei Kolovos' Dojos. In 1997 he had a slow year and although not having put in the work he entered the Australian Championships and was reminded of the need for preparation after being knocked out by a third dan from South Africa and defeated with thigh kicks by Peter Graham in the Gippsland Tournament .But the following year he entered the Nationals again and won the Gippsland tournament and the Canberra ring tournament.
1999 saw him open his own club with the Gibilisco sisters and this was the birth of the FAFC.
Peter traveled to Sydney to win the Australian Championships and graded to Nidan later that year.
1999 was also the start of the Glenroy Panthers Kickboxing. After training around with a few kickboxing instructors and learning from each of them Peter combined his previous experience with the new skills and created the Panthers style of Kickboxing. Peter has ensured the Panthers style while remaining realistic and effective also caters to beginners and those wishing to use the great workout kickboxing offers without the fear of injury and excessive contact.
He has continued to evolve the style as he continues to learn. The Panthers style has enabled Peter to produce many successful students in various kickboxing divisions from light kickboxing bouts to full contact kickboxing promotions as well as competing himself in the Kickboxing ring.
Peter has also been involved in numerous demonstrations performing tile and board breaks and has a hand in training fighters to national and international level and training alongside national and world champions. He has attended seminars with Martial Arts greats such as Shihan Bobby Lowe , Sensei Kenji Midori, Sensei Gary O'neil , Shihan Cameron Quinn , Sam Greco, Sensei Masuda ,Shihan Jim Phillips , Sensei Kazumi, Hanshi John Taylor , Royce Gracie , John Will ,Sensei Joe Thambu , Sensei Judd Reid and many more.
He has judged and refereed regularly since 1995 in both Karate and Kickboxing competitions.
Peter still has a burning desire to better himself and to pass on all the benefits that hard training has to offer as a fighter and for everyday living. It was this desire that led Peter to step out of the comfort zone and return to white belt in the dynamic style of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Amazed at the control the BJJ practitioners had once on the ground Peter spent any spare time he had to learning the new skills and in 2003 introduced BJJ to the FAFC. Peter has attained his Brown Belt in BJJ and after years under the Will-Machado banner changed affiliation to once again become the student training under BJJ Black Belt Ninos Dammo of the Australian Elite Team who at the time was running a single club and had only two other affilliates. AET has since grown with Ninos' own students starting clubs and other like minded clubs joining the family to make it the No.1 Team in Australia.
Peter has put the skills learnt in Kyokushin , Kickboxing, BJJ and all the other skills picked up from various instructors along the way to form Nexgen MMA teaching both children and adults.
Peter now a 4th Dan in Kyokushin continues to learn from whoever he can is sure this is only the beginning, the foundation, of a long and eventful life in the Martial Arts
started training in Kyokushin Karate 1984 under Sensei George Kolovos at the old Essendon Dojo in Bradshaw street Scout Hall. She gained her Black Belt in 1993 after sitting for years on a worn out Brown Belt.
Before her time as a contact fighter she placed in the top three in various non-contact divisions including wins at the NAS , Victorian Teams and in Kata . She competed in her first Full contact tournament run by Shihan Jim Phillips in 1996 in Sydney . With only one fight and one win under her belt she entered the Nationals that year to place second to her older sister Maria .
With all the political turmoil at the time Kyokushin was split into two main groups and with her Sensei's blessing she also entered the "other sides" nationals only to be defeated once again by her Sister placing second. This left no doubt that the Gibilisco sisters were a strong fighting force in the Australian women's divisions of the 90's.
In 1997 Antoinette turned to focus strongly on her grading work and obtained her 2nd Dan . In that same year she won the Gippsland Championships , The South Australian Championships, The Victorian Championships, The Canberra Championships and also placed third in the 97 Australian Championships.
In 1998 She again took out the Gippsland tournament and then travelled to Brisbane to compete in the Nationals and once again met her sister in the final. Again she took second place. In 1999 Maria dropped the weight to fight in the Middle weight division and Antoinette jumped at the chance to this time secure the place as National Heavy weight Champion.
Antoinette then again won the heavy weight division of the National Championships in 2000 as well as travelling to Japan to compete in an International Tournament.
She took up Kickboxing at the founding of the Panthers in 1999. She is currently a 3rd Dan in Kyokushin and holds a Panthers Kickboxing Black Singlet.