Frank Kyle first picked up on martial arts seven years ago, when the Bluffton resident was in need of a sports outlet as he got older.
"I live here by myself in this area," he said. "I've always been sports-oriented in high school and college and stuff, and I really wanted to find something as an adult to satisfy my needs."
It wasn't Bruce Lee movies or Carl Douglas songs which led Kyle to kung fu, but instead the peace and tranquility that surrounds what is otherwise an intense, physical sport.
"With kung fu, it's not about the fighting and techniques," he said. "It's about inner peace and finding yourself in inner peace. It's a whole different level of sports. You don't train to learn how to fight, you train how not to fight."
For the last seven years, Kyle has worked on mastering the art in his spare time. He trains extensively every day at the Sun and Moon Martial Arts Studio, despite his work obligations.
But Kyle has begun to see the rewards of his work in recent weeks. He made his way to the World Games of Martial Arts last week in Charleston, only after winning several tournaments in order to qualify, and came away with a pair of first-place honors.
He took first in both point fighting and creative form while placing third in traditional form and fourth in weapons.
"It's one of the bigger tournaments," he said. " ... So I prepared myself all year long."
Point fighting consists of two-minute rounds against an opponent where participants are awarded on kicks and punches above the belt. The winner eventually moves his way up the bracket, which Kyle managed to do with relative ease.
He entered creative form at a disadvantage, he said, due to his expertise in kung fu, a style not as common in such settings. And yet, he managed to claim the highest score in front of the five judges, who awarded points based on a contestant's balance, footwork, punching, kicks and technique.
Kyle has expectations on returning to the World Games again this year, provided he keeps up the practice level he maintained in anticipation of the event in 2013.
That shouldn't be too hard, however. After all, it's a sport which, despite its unfamiliarity to him at first, has grown to be a part of him over the last seven years.
"It's really weird how it works, but it's so cool," he said. "It's so amazing."