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Unexpectedly, when he was at his lowest point, Au cried out for divine intervention. He had never been religious but he embraced Christianity. He says his faith helped him to pull through his depression without the need for medication.

Au repaired relations with his estranged wife and the couple renewed their vows in March this year. He says that in order to make sure he never got depressed again, he knew he had to change himself.

Au threw himself back into martial arts, something which he had practised since childhood. In 2007, Au won the championship in the Hong Kong Full Contact Karate Open Tournament for the heavyweight division. He was the oldest participant in this weight class ever. It was a dream come true. When he was 18, Au had participated in and lost a tournament due to insufficient practice. When he decided to enter the tournament, he gave himself a challenge. “I asked myself, ‘How much do you want to achieve? Are you sure you want to do it? If yes, then you should start your engine and put your full power in it.”

This time around, Au took his training seriously. Besides karate practice, Au was filming the TVB sitcom Best Selling Secret every day. He was also acting in three theatre dramas in the space of one and a half months. The schedule was tight, so he had to be very determined and disciplined in order to continue training.

“Full contact” means not wearing any protective gear. It is painful when you defend as well as when you attack. Therefore endurance is crucial. The tournament continues until there is a winner, which means it is also demanding on participants’ physical fitness.

Au explains his motivation this way: “I’m getting on, I want to prove to myself, I don’t want to have any regrets,” he says. “If I do something without being well-prepared, then I am being unfaithful to myself.”