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The Inspiration in Karate

I was having a little think the other day about the people who inspired me on my journey in Karate and to be honest, when I stepped back and thought about it, there were an awful lot of great people who have helped me on a journey that with the passing of this new year saw me continue on a path that started 44 years ago.

So, when I reflected on the long list of people who helped me on that journey, I realised that actually there were many of them, all of whom played a part at very different stages of life.

When I started Karate, I was, like everybody else at the time, captured by the amazing skills of Bruce Lee. It is hard now to understand the real effect that this incredible martial artist had around the world. We all wanted to be like him, and he was not alone. I used to enjoy watching David Carradin in the long running TV show Kung Fu, which followed his journey across the USA as a former Shaolin Monk with all the skills taught to him. Mind you, I was somewhat dismayed to discover that he never actually was ever taught martial arts and that others actually did the business.

So rather than publish a very long list of names, the vast majority of which will mean nothing to anyone, I have decided that it would be much more interesting to blog about who inspired me and why.

So the first person is a man I regard as a friend of mine who I reckon I have known for about 10 years or so.

I first met this chap when he joined one of the dojos in Birmingham. He was clearly a very fit man, as was apparent. He was also a very earnest

and intense student; as I taught him, he tried really hard with his face telling every emotion. Mostly frustration, as he tried his best to learn the basics and kata. Interestingly, because he was so intense, it actually acted a barrier as he was very stiff in movement which then caused more frustration. But, and here is the thing, that man never stopped trying; he always gave his best and took all instruction on board and applied it.

Week by week, month by month, this guy kept going and before long, he was on the grading path guided by the great man himself, my and his Shihan Cyril Cummins, 8th Dan (many future blogs are yet to be written about the great man, so watch this space).

Another instrumental influence on this chap's amazing journey was another truly inspiring Sensei, namely Sue Hessian, 4th Dan. She guided him and many others at her excellent dojo at Weoley Castle, and now since Shihan passed away, at Birmingham and Halesowen SKC.

Sue has trained many good karateka over the years, and she played a key part in shaping this man’s karate.

Training regularly, he kept up his effort and diligence and before long, he was making great progress learning to relax his movement became relaxed, fluid and strong a Karate-ka in the making.

Fast forward a few years, and there he was a fully-fledged first Kyu, ready and waiting for the Dan grading.

And then, as it often does, life got in the way. A combination of changing work patterns and other factors meant that training was harder to attend, and over the course of weeks and months it ended, as often happens. But I know that this mans journey is not over and there is unfinished business to be done, which I will make sure that he completes, because he deserves it.

The definition of inspire is to “create a feeling, especially a positive one, in a person”. This man does this on a daily basis with the people that he works with, I know because I have watched him at work.

But, and here is the sting in the tail, for all my years of friendship both inside the dojo and out, I found out to my complete surprise that this man spent his childhood years confined to a wheelchair.

Step by step he overcame all of that pain and adversity and through sheer hard work, effort and dedication he got himself fit and well. Agatha Christie once said: “Find the motive and you will find the murderer". So whenever I watched this man train with such intensity on his face, I then realised why. I could not begin to imagine what life must have been like, but this modest, humble and decent man never said a single word about it.

That is what black belts are all about. He knows who he is, but typically he would not want to be named. That is not what he is about.

Oss,

Sensei Austin