Wohlen is a typical provincial village. The mentality of its inhabitants and the village life that is lived out in houses, shops and pubs, formed a fabric with its own order and with rules that youngsters have to obey. Everyone knows everyone else and is part of a network of relationships that characterizes several generations. There is no talk of hierarchy, but it exists as a reflection of the social structure of the village population. Andy and his brother and sister belonged without doubt to a social class that had very little say. For this reason, people later gave him the image of an underdog who wanted to assert himself over his social betters.
Very early on it turned out that Andy was a definite talent at sport. As a six-year-old, he started playing football. Only a few years later, he was picked for the 'U-16' (under sixteen-year-olds) for the Canton of Argovia and eventually nominated to play for Switzerland. At eleven, he was permitted to accompany a neighbour's son to karate practice for the first time. Despite strong opposition from his grandfather, he began to train in this Far-Eastern martial art. When he asked for a permit to train in karate, his grandmother became aware that there was more to it than just youthful enthusiasm. She employed all her skill and eventually managed to obtain his grandfather's agreement.
Andy's astounding development into a karate fighter was certainly with one reason in mind, namely that he would be better able to assert himself. At the same time though, it also had the consequence that other boys made fun of him, provoked him and tried to put him down. Though Andy suffered from this treatment, at the same time it fostered his independence and in time he learnt to hold his own against stronger boys. The karate training helped him achieve more self-confidence and enabled him to develop talents.
At thirteen, Andy already stood out as an exceptional talent and won many beginners' competitions. At this time his strength lay more in theoretical competition than in single combat. A year later he already counted as Switzerland's best trainee exponent. Under pressure from his grandparents, he had finally to decide between football and karate, since they were no longer in a position to pay for both. For Andy it was clear that he was going to devote himself in future to the Far Eastern art. He followed a strong inner motivation and no longer wanted to be successful just in the technical discipline but rather in future to gauge his strength at tournaments in single combat with others, and to win.
At the age of fifteen, his extraordinary combat talent was revealed and for the first time he won the national 'Oyama Cup'. At seventeen, he became joint founder of a new karate school in Bremgarten. At this time, he had already been a member of the elite national Kyokushinkai karate team for a year. Since the minimum age for full-contact fights was twenty, the up-and-coming young sportsman had to present the written permission of his grandparents. Three years later, he had established himself countrywide as a unique fighter with outstanding technical and mental abilities.
As a schoolboy, he dreamed of training as a sports teacher at a later date. Though his marks enabled him to go to the secondary school, there were limits to his interest in learning. Since no one gave him additional support or urged him on, his achievements at school remained average. During the final school year, his grandfather obtained an apprenticeship for him as a butcher in the same business where his brother was already working. Under pressure from his grandmother Fridy, he started his apprenticeship. However, right to the end of his apprenticeship, he was only interested in karate and he invested every spare moment in training.
Towards the end of his time at school, Andy hung around regularly with gangs of youths, who threatened to lead him astray. He sensed the urge to rebel against the prescribed order, but it did not really satisfy him. Fortunately, he thought better of it one day and changed course at the last moment. In Karate, he had found a path that enabled him to develop the required abilities to overcome his bad habits. He recognized that a successful fighter does not act with passion and violence, but rather from an inner conviction and determination that knows no defeat. He learnt quite naturally to accept the experiences of the street and to cope with their consequences. He succeeded in coming to terms with them, without suffering psychological damage.
In his training community, Andy had finally found friends, who had let themselves be infected and transported by his fire and his tireless commitment. They had become fellow travellers who demanded everything from one another during training. With his enduring dedication he had given them a lot and spurred them on again and again. Conversely, he had found partners in them that he needed in order to achieve his aims.