I always say that a martial art is not just about the
combat skills it teaches, it's a whole life improvement program that
benefits you in ways that you would not have thought possible until
you look back and reflect.
Recently I had a telephone conversation with an old student
of mine which left me in an emotional state. It confirmed that I had
been saying over the years was true and made it all seem that much more
At his request I shall not reveal his full name, let's
just call him Andy and here is his story.
I think it was around 1997 when
I enrolled in my first class with you at the David Lloyd sports club.
I then joined the class in St Stephens road church hall during the week,
as well as starting private lessons with you in your then garage on
Sunday mornings. Later, the class moved in to your garage. I did return
twice I think. The first time I was just so crazy busy that I wasn’t
able to devote the time and focus I needed on it although my enthusiasm
never weaned. The second time I returned was with my X girlfriend as
we thought it would be nice to do something together that we enjoyed.
However, commitment wasn’t there on her part.
I have never forgotten my teachings
in classes and my lessons, and the fun and sense of mutual respect amongst
fellow students and yourself.
I started learning because as a
family we had been through a tough time with a distant family member,
I was I believe 20 at the time. Hiding inside a house with the family
whilst another family member ransacked and mocked outside at all hours
of the day and night feeling totally helpless and useless not being
able to have the courage to stand up and face the “bully”.
This was why I started learning. However, a couple of years later I
did stand up to that “bully”, and the problem never returned
to our doorstep again. The best thing about this is that I didn’t
want or need to use any of my physical teachings to do this. Simply
having the courage to stand face to face was enough to stop it. So to
this day I have never used the physical skills acquired in class, but
the mental side of your teaching is what helped me through that situation.
Last year August 11th 2013, whilst
having a family barbeque I collapsed, was rushed to hospital and was
told I had a stroke at the age of 37. The following day in hospital
I had another one which was the shocker. I awoke in the middle of the
night not knowing what had happened. I could move my toes and hands
but had no voice. My vision was all over the place. For the next 14
days in hospital I came to the realisation of what had happened. After
4 hours of MRI scans, my family were taken aside and told that I probably
would not awake, and if I did I would most probably be bed ridden, non-responsive
and may need to be hand fed for the rest of my life. Over the next 14
days I had to learn how to walk again, I had major balance issues amongst
many things. I had constant hiccups day and night for 7 days. When I
came home 14 days later I had my lounge made into a bed room for me.
Care workers coming in 4 times a day, physiotherapy once a day etc.
All this whilst seeing my little 3 year old girl coming back from pre-school
with my then girlfriend (Now Fiancée). I missed her first day
at pre-school during this time amongst other things.
Anyway, the reason I called you
was to let you know that during the critical first 6 months of my rehab,
I was pretty much laid up in bed not being able to do much at all. My
right side was very week. Lots of things went through my mind at this
time, and one of those things was your teaching. Even my family do not
know this yet. When I was alone, I would remember certain things in
the Sil Nim Tao form. Over the months I would circle the wrists, practice
the bent write energy straight push and pull. I would then remember
the angles etc. of the centre line. So I was in the end able to do the
completed form whilst lying in bed. This I did when I was on my own.
There is not a doubt in my mind that this was a major part of my recovery.
How I am now? I cannot drive anymore,
I cannot walk outside on my own as I have balance issues due to a little
brain damage which effects my eye coordination, and I also suffer from
erratic fatigue. However, I have full movement of all of my arms, legs
etc. In fact, I am very lucky to say that if you didn’t know what
I had been through, you probably wouldn’t think I had any problems.
I would just sincerely like to
offer my up most respect and thanks for all that you have taught me
over those years.
And to any students currently training
for their own reasons I would like to say this….
You are training under the right system and the right teacher. If you
think about what you learn from your classes you will realise that you
gain much, much more than just the physical aspects of the forms etc.
Friendship, fitness, respect, self-belief and possessiveness to name
just a few.
I started learning to stand up
and fight the “bully”. It turned out that I never needed
to fight him at all, I just needed the confidence and self-belief to
stand up to him.
But little did I know that what I was learning wasn’t to provide
me with tools for the fight of my life, it was the tools to help me
fight FOR my life.
Hopefully I can come and see you
at some point, it would be really great to catch up.
Well, there you have it, a sad story hopefully with a
happy ending. So whatever martial art you train if your teachers only
focus is on becomming a better fighter maybe it's time to start asking