Jeet Kune Do Blog

Insights from Sifu Joel Ledlow

Why did you move to Winnipeg?

Why did you move to Winnipeg?

I was born in the United States. I grew up in a really small town in Oklahoma. Not even in the town. We lived in the country. After high school, I went to the University of Oklahoma, then on to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

After graduating, I stayed in Los Angeles. I’d done lots of movement up to that point, but after graduation was when my serious martial training began.

I started training with Ed Monaghan at Combative Arts Academy, and was introduced to and able to train with several world-class people in various martial arts.

In 2001 I moved to Tokyo, Japan to teach and train. After a year I returned to LA.

I continued my martial training and moved into security work in the Hollywood club scene.

I was also taken on as a student by Jerry Poteet, arguably the best JKD man after Bruce Lee.

How did you go from training with the likes of Jerry Poteet to living in Winnipeg?

To start, I met my wife, Catherine in 2009. (I’ll leave how we met and the impact she had on me for another blog. Or maybe even after class.)

Catherine and I both wanted a family and to build a life together. To make a “home”.

We decided to leave Los Angeles for life in my home state of Oklahoma.

It made sense on several levels.

In August 2010, I opened my first martial arts school in Oklahoma City. We had our son Elliot 10 days after my first class.

Catherine started Nursing school a year later.

In 2013, my wife graduated from nursing school and then gave birth to our daughter Quinn days later.

The martial arts school was doing great, we had two beautiful children and Catherine had a wide choice of Nursing jobs being offered to her.

So why move to Winnipeg?

Brain cancer.

My wife was diagnosed in June of 2013 with brain cancer.

Our son was two months short of 3 years old and our daughter was only 5 weeks old.

We were very lucky to have medical insurance to cover the treatments, and even luckier to have had such amazing medical staff in Oklahoma City.

Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy over the next year.

I can’t explain what that time was like. It was rough. But it was also uplifting.

It made us really evaluate our lives and what we wanted. For ourselves and for our children. One of the main things was my wife’s desire to move back to where she grew up to be near her family.

You guessed it. Despite having lived in the USA for a decade and even gaining her citizenship, my wife is a Canadian from Winnipeg.

And so, we made plans, jumped through several immigration hoops for me, and in June of 2014 (a year after her diagnosis) we moved to the River Heights area of Winnipeg.

We bought a house a short walk from her parents’ house, the house she grew up in, and we put down roots.

I opened my second school here in January of 2015.

And we have found ourselves “home”. We live in a great community filled with amazing people.

So what brought me to Winnipeg?


My wife (as of this blog) is stable, our children are healthy and happy, the school here (and in OKC) is thriving.

Catherine and I have found that dream of “home”. All because of love.