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  • Writer's pictureJürgen Niit

Perth Martial Arts Academy resident photographer

There are two things in life that I feel confident at doing - photography and martial arts. And I think it's quite sad that I found both of them in the middle of my twenties and in Australia, BUT still, better late than never. And yet I had tried martial arts back home - Muay Thay and Taekwondo.

class in session


Perth Martial Arts combine all effective mixed martial arts methods of standing & ground-based striking, clinching, take-downs, joint locks, throws, wrestling & more. As a beginner, you start off with self-defense. More advanced you get more you are getting in mixed martial arts realm. They don't teach competition sports, they teach reality-based fighting.

Their trainers are highly qualified with martial arts experience. The head coach has more than 25 years of experience on- and off-shore. Also, he is a paramedic and can tell you exactly what happens to the human body when you do a certain technique. Another trainer is a lawyer, so he can tell more so what are legal consequences and how to handle a fight in public space.

The dedication of trainers is utterly impressive. All tough times they are going through and the time they are putting in. Especially now when public gatherings are restricted due to COVID-19 they still do online classes and lend out equipment for students for free.

Also, the students come from many walks of life and with different enriching backgrounds - from cops to designers. I have made many good friends amongst them and even some clients.

one is graphic designer and other is a cop - learning how to get up fast with leg switch

The simple reason I chose Perth Martial Arts Academy because they were the first one who wrote me back. I sent out a bunch of requests via e-mail or contact forms. They were the only ones who answered me the next morning and seemed that they take their school and teachings seriously. Others started emailing me back on the third day and I think the latest was two weeks.

proper knee ride

One huge thing that impresses me that they are open on most public holidays, the only exception is Christmas and New Year's Eve. That club is one of the reasons why I decided to land Perth when I came back to Australia.


To get the real essence of any group or movement you gotta build trust and it takes time. I remember when one press-photographer gave a lecture at our school. Stanislav Moshkov shared one of his projects in front of the class about the Russian Drama Theatre. How he got to know crew and building and after quite a few times in the theater, personnel and actors let their guard down. It took dedication to get genuine and on point photos. Another good photographer is Jérémie Jung who dedicated quite a few months through a few years to get the essence of a small island called Kihnu.

helping each other out

Same for me - it took time and dedication when I got photos of real action and proper technique. For my benefit, I'm one of the practitioners and know most of the students and teachers. It made building trust and communication part easier. Still, it takes time for people to get used to the camera in the room.


Another thing is to know the subject you are photographing. Quite often when I was working in media and we made persona stories I needed to know the story behind the person. So before I and journalist drove out I did little research about a person so at the meeting we could "connect" better. Like the story about Maarten Van Gent who was Dutch and Estonian national basketball team coach.

wooden shoes he likes and is proud of

The same thing applies to martial arts. You gotta know about a subject that you are photographing. Gotta know the moment, what could happen and sense the moves. Also gotta get a right shutter speed that shows movement and don't make subjects look like they are "frozen".

one of the top angle

Also, angles come in the count - most of the top angles don't give much information and make technique look kinda petty, so the safest way is to go low angles and close distance with a wider angle to fill up the frame....but sometimes nice correctly stretched armbar can look amazing from the top.

Same with striking, you wanna get nice and personal to give forward situation - usually long lenses come in handy there.


It is good and healthy to have a life after work and it's also good to join two of the things I like and feel confident to do. I remember when I got a call from the trainer related to my first upcoming grading and when I got my yellow belt. Currently, all the training I can do is in my garage but things should get better soon - restrictions are going easier and I think next week is full-contact sports allowed again. Hopefully gonna see you on matte or side of the matte. Everyone is welcome!

got our orange belt

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