Oliver Kai Lam-Watson

Athlete | Parafencer for Great Britain

Strength is perhaps the among those traits most defined by duality. Associated with the Guardians motif, both the Eastern and Western Lions can best be described by their dual states which together symbolize prosperity, success, and protection.

Strength is not in fact a show of sheer force but rather the discipline, grace, and mastery involved with showing restraint and temperance.

Oliver Kai Lam-Watson feels akin to the Guardians motif most authentically for the duality they portray. Lam-Watson is a British Parafencer and decorated athlete. Despite the precision and athleticism necessary to excel at his profession, it was his inner fire juxtaposed by a sense of refined softness that called Authorne’s Rachel Bu across the transatlantic journey in hopes of profiling Lam-Watson for Encounters.

...my mother’s passion and fierce Eastern character was always a huge inspiration for me.

“Fencing is combat — it is a martial art in a way— and combat is art,” states Lam-Watson. “I see fencing as a dialogue between distance, timing, technique, and power. Like a dance it takes two, and in a similar way there’s no destination either. It is a practice. A form of self-expression. I’m passionate about the process, the daily grind, honing my understanding and presence in the moments.”

The Guardians do, however, run blood-deep for the parafencer, whose own identity is steeped in Eastern-Western fusion:

“Since the passing of my mother — who was from Hong Kong — I’ve been trying to further connect with my Asian heritage. Although I was born and raised in the United Kingdom, my mother’s passion and fierce Eastern character was always a huge inspiration for me. She was very proud of her roots, and so am I…The two guardians really struck a cord with me…I am an eastern lion fighting as a western lion. When I put on the mask, when I take it off, the lines between the motif become blurred, and I’m honoured to carry both with me…This is perhaps more than just symbolic for me.”

Symbols like the Lion are a universal language that defy singular allusion and yet evoke strong resonance both personally and culturally for many. Authorne asserts that by wearing the motif, one can embody the grace and strength of the Guardian Lions knowing they provide you with a sense of protection and a shield against the uncertainties of the world.

Lam-Watson dons this motif both literally and proverbially:

“Honesty [is a guiding principle in my life]. It is important for me to be honest with myself and to portray myself in a way that I feel is genuine. The highs and the lows; I want to show the world both. I spent many years of my life lying about my leg and my disability and I know how damaging that can be. So honesty with myself is very important.”

I’ve not yet found my limit and I love the internal battles and games I play with myself...

In describing his formative years, and the personal challenges, opportunities, or milestones that came to define him, Lam-Watson states:

“I think for me my mother inspired me incredibly. She never shied away from challenges and always met them head on. In my early years growing up with a disability I was often told what I couldn’t do… ‘You’ll never be an athlete’ for example. Well, nothing is for sure and because of that very fact, anything can happen. And that’s exciting for me, so I embrace the journey, the uncertainty, and try to focus on pushing myself towards my limits at any opportunity. I feel as though this is when I am most alive.”

“I’ve not yet found my limit and I love the internal battles and games I play with myself, when I don’t think I’m good enough, or doubt my ability to overcome a challenge. I bet against myself frequently. It drives me to prove myself wrong. [I strive to] beat the guy looking back at me in the mirror each day to prove to myself that I can.”

And yet, despite the fire and the strength, there exists for Lam-Watson a sense of magic in the quiet moments:

“Beauty [is also a guiding principle.] I seek to find beauty in the small details of life: a sunrise, a wild flower by the side of a road, or even the sport that I compete in. I think there are beautiful moments all around us and it’s easy to miss them if you don’t look around every now and again.”

And so with this Encounter, Authorne finds its muse — its ambassador — in a resonant Guardian on multiple levels.

“Authorne has helped me take a step towards my Eastern roots and embrace the space between east and west in which I live.”

Written By:
Photography By:
Tom Shaw