You think I only watch martial arts movies on netflix.
You know I exercise nearly every day and love martial arts, all kinds.
But there have been times when I stopped training
As a ten-year-old I had heard a little about martial arts from television.
I went down to the local YMCA, watched a Judo class and became absolutely mesmerized. The breakfalls, the throwing the incredible technique, magic to a ten year old.
I went home and showed my mother how to do breakfalls on the carpet.
Somehow I was never able to attend a class but always pictured my self in a uniform in the deadly oriental art. Fortunately my first hands on experience came from my fifth grade teacher Mr. Pier. He was a professional boxer who loved all sports and especially loved bringing the best out in our class. Every season we played a different sport football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring with the exception on rainy days, when we boxed. In the back of our classroom we had a speed bag, focus mitts and boxing gear. All of us sparred often, sometimes boys versus girls and often together. I learned that I had some boxing skills when one day I dropped a fellow student in a sparring match. The next day when he came to school he said his mother forbade him to box. Wow, I thought, I must be something. That was until I went with Mr. Pier to the community center and boxed some kids a year or two older than me and learned a lesson in humility.
At age twelve, moving to a new town changed things. New friends and schools put boxing aside and unfortunately without my mentor I soon lost sight of anything athletic.
When I was sixteen years old I got into an argument and a fight with a buddy in my neighborhood. The fight involved a girl and one of my neighborhood friends. We yelled, screamed and pointed our fingers at each other and then out of the blue he whomped me good, giving me a big black eye, lots of remorse and a very broken spirit. After he felt he had sufficiently shown me his point of view I limped home only to have to face my parents with my big black eye and lots of humiliation.
They were supportive and loving although I knew I had failed to give much of a fight to defend myself (actually I put up no fight). This low feeling stuck with me for months and months. It wasn’t until a few months later I realized that this situation and experience gave me desire to change and put me on track for learning self-defense.
That fall after my incident I saw an ad for a martial arts demonstration and beginner classes. I nervously went to the demonstration, saw these experts of the martial arts and was emotionally hooked. This time I was involved for real, not just an excited observer.
Here I was thrilled to be a student but I couldn’t do even two pushups but I had a desire that wouldn’t let me quit. Now that I was officially a martial arts student I wanted a uniform so bad I couldn’t stand it. The challenge, no one knew where to get one. I went to a newsstand and couldn’t believe my eyes. Here was not only one karate magazine, but two. I scooped them both up and devoured them from cover to cover. I read those magazines so much I had almost memorized them word for word. In the ads I found a uniform company. I did my best to figure out the size chart and took a shot. I ordered a size three and sent a money order. When it came I realized I needed a size five. I had mistakedly ordered by height and not by weight. It was a little tight but I beamed in my new karate suit.
We worked out in a social club hall where functions were held on weekends. During class breaks we drank water out of a hose attached to the faucet in the sink and trained with very little heat. Sometimes my instructor would even open the windows in winter just to make us work harder generating body heat.
After being a student for three months I was put in charge of attendance and collecting dues. I think my instructor just wanted to focus on teaching and did not care for the financial aspects and bill collecting.
The following summer, while fixing my car I pinched a nerve in my back and decided to take a break from classes. The summer was flying by. I was a senior in love with my high school sweetheart and hadn’t given a thought to martial arts. One afternoon while shopping my, girlfriend and I bumped into my instructor in the local department store. He was glad to see me and mentioned, “When will you be back to class?” A little guilty I replied “Tuesday” and there I was right back in the swing of things.
This was to be the first of a few times my martial arts was interrupted.