By Brendan Rees
As a Cranbourne lad, Paul Cale decided he’d had enough of being bullied so he took up martial arts.
Little did he know at the time he would go on to become one of Australia’s toughest soldiers.
The former Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road resident attended Cranbourne Primary School in the late 70s.
He was also part of the first group of students to attend Cranbourne Meadows Technical School in 1980 which is now Lyndhurst Secondary College. “That was out in a paddock in the middle of nowhere, no housing or anything,” he said.
“I think for the first term the school wasn’t ready for us yet so they sent us to Doveton High School until the portables were put in.”
Paul said the moment he discovered martial arts it gave him a sense of confidence.
“I took up a class that was being run at the technical school,” he said. “Eventually I fought back (at the bullies) and that was the end of that.”
“They were pretty benign times compared to battlefield,” he added.
Paul, 50, joined the Australia Army in 1987 with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and posted to Townsville.
He became a Sergeant as a special-forces commando which saw him deployed five times in Afghanistan and Iraq. He now has eight black belts in martial arts.
Paul’s regiment saw some harrowing scenes in fighting terrorists.
There was a time, he says, he “made a judgement call” to fire at a Taliban fighter who was holding a mobile phone: “He was one of the fellows who were in the process of blowing us up.
“He was the only one there, he had a phone…pretty much everyone evacuated the town…so I made the call and it turned out to be right one which is a positive thing, you don’t want to make calls like that and be wrong,” he said.
Today, the former SAS soldier is the chief executive of Kinetic Fighting in New South Wales and oversees the delivery of a combative program which is used by all recruits and officer cadets in the Australian Defence Force.
Looking back from the days he used to work at Coles at Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre as a 15-year-old, to storming enemy compounds and now re-writing the army’s combat program, he says: “You never really know how you’re career’s going to go.”
“Sometimes I stop and go ‘S**t that’s not bad for a lad from Cranbourne.’”
Asked why he decided to leave the army as a soldier in 2013, he said “I just burnt out basically.”
“The amount of work and with the war on and with the counter terrorism responsibilities, reinforcements, stuff like that you just get to a point where you’re not saying ‘Oh it’s time to go.’ Your body, everything is telling you ‘You’re done.’
When away from martial arts, Paul says his passion is his three children – two sons aged 26 and four, and a daughter aged six.
But he ensures: “I’ll come back and visit Cranbourne sometime.”