True story; At the age of fifteen on my way to class, confidence already shattered I felt something hit the back of my head. I ignored it. After all, that is what I did best, ignored the things that shattered me.
Then I felt something else hit me and I heard my ‘pals’ laughing as they walked behind me. And then the pelts started. One splat, two splat, more splats.
I suddenly realised what said splats were. I was being spat at, spat upon, my shattered confidence finally broken in a hail of phlegm.
When they saw I realised what was happening I was given a warning. Tell others and I’d be battered. My pals were great.
As I washed the spit of my blazer in the lonely toilet I realised something had to be done. I’d taken too many beatings, endured too much abuse, been frightened more times than I had a right to be. Imagine if you will. Guys you thought of as friends using you as a spit board. Getting their kicks out of hurling phlegm at you, covering you with their foul spit. And for what? Because I was a quiet, polite, eager to please kid? A decent fucking child. Splat. Something had to be done.
Confidence can come from anywhere. There is water in the desert. If you are thirsty enough you’ll find it. I was thirsty. I found it.
Karate saved me. It took me weeks to find my courage. The courage needed to enter the dojo. The courage needed to don a white suit and ‘join in’.
37 years later and I’m still here. Roads travelled, fights fought, wrestlers wrestled. I’m still here.
If you think your child is being bullied, if you see he or she is nervous for no apparent reason then look for the truth. My parents, they pretty much lived in denial. Didn’t happen to their kid, why would it? They were people about town, no one would mess with their kid. But they did. Splat.
Seek out the truth for your child if you see the signs. Seek out the answer. You may find it lies in your local Martial Art gym. You may find it lies elsewhere, maybe music, art, dance, singing. Anything your child wants to do but is frightened of doing then encourage them to do it. It will bring them confidence.
It will bring them the confidence to turn around the the spitters and say “What the hell do you think you are doing, who the hell do you think you are doing it to?”
Give your child confidence, give them hope.
Many years later my tormentors turned out to be false prophets. I see them from time to time, now and again. I see them around. They now look at me in a different way. They look at me as the kid who came good, a fighter of repute. A fighter but still a gentleman.
They don’t spit at me anymore. Not anymore. Splat. It doesn’t happen nowadays.
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Would you like fries with your roundhouse kick?
A debate that has raged through Martial Arts for many a decade (and I suspect, will do so for many more) is the matter of the McDojo and the ‘giving away’ of belts but I am of the opinion that this is a two edged sword.
My own experience is that students want the best training, facilities etc but at rock bottom prices but this is as unrealistic and as feasible as a 15 year old Tae Kwon Do yellow bet winning the professional Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World. Let me explain from personal experience (and without trying to sound big headed).
I have trained for over 36 years now, fought all over the country and have been successful in many aspects of Martial Arts/Personal Security, winning multiple awards and authoring six books. My work is featured worldwide and so if you wish to train with me and learn from me it comes as a cost. The amount of time and money we have invested in my journey have decreed that this is now my full time profession.
In keeping with that profession and my skills, we run a first class facility in North Wales. Fight Fortress has two training areas, each equipped with high quality training aids (punchbags, attack dummies, focus pads, strike shields etc). We have changing facilities, a spectators lounge, shop and car park with easy access from the main expressway not North Wales.
Just a few mile away. There is a young gentleman whose skills I am sure are on par with his years in training. He is a low grade Black Belt and teaches once a week in a church hall. No facilities as such, no equipment and no real time experience.
An Apology and Forgiveness
From the age of five I was bullied and beaten right up until my early twenties. All manner of boy and man would, could and did hit me at will but by far the worst of the bunch was a skinhead I’ll call Joe.
Joe had the works. Bad attitude, grudge, chip on his shoulder, the lot. But what Joe had most importantly was a knife. A gleaming, sharp, shiny life ender hidden in the coats of his jacket.
He didn’t need it at first. Why would he? My frightened, skinny frame and gentle nature was no match for his aggressive, muscular being and so when I dated his long gone ex-girlfriend then I became fair prey in his eyes.
His first ‘go around’ was to ambush me and slam me against a wall with a warning; “I’m stronger than you Morrell, you should know that.” But of course I already did. Me weak, him strong, no doubts.
Watching a camera crew arrive at our hotel in Orlando was surreal; surreal in a good way. We had travelled over ten thousand physical miles to this but in terms of emotions, experience, adversity and triumph it felt more like ten million. I had been the victim of bullies for most of my childhood and teen years; as I grew into a man the bullying became violent assaults. Mostly I had endured alone until my salvation arrived in the form of my wife. With her support, I became serious about learning to stand up for myself and serious about Martial Arts. Serious enough to become a 5th Dan Black Belt and kicking my ever increasing agoraphobia into touch, serious enough to write a book about my experiences…little did I know that writing that book would lead me to this, a swanky hotel lobby in the U.S.A. sitting with my family waiting for the Film Crew to set up and begin the journey of the movie ‘From Bullied To Black Belt’…you couldn’t make it up.