I was teaching Martial Arts one day. Had a school in Tujunga, maybe ten or twelve students in the class, and this old guy walks in. Not tremendously old, maybe fifty. And he had his arms filled with martial arts equipment. A couple of uniforms, a few colored belts, focus glove, kicking bag, some pads. I think he even had a couple of martial arts books.
I introduced myself and asked what I could do for him, and I was curious. He didn’t look like a martial artist.
“I thought maybe you could use this stuff.”
I couldn’t, but there was a sadness coming out of the guy that told me to take it and be grateful. “Sure,” I said. “We can certainly use this, and thank you.”
And he said: “My son died, you see. Couple of years ago. This stuff was sitting in the garage, and he loved to do the martial arts more than anything. I looked at it the other day, and I realized what he wouldn’t want it to go to waste.”
I took the stuff and placed it on a desk and shook his hand. He told me briefly about his son, and I could see that he had gone through the worst pain a man could go through. For a father, you could lose a limb, catch a dread disease, suffer agonizing pain, but not the son…no. Not the son. That hurts more.
So we chatted, I tried to be very upbeat, got him to the point where I could quip, “We’ll use the heck out of it, then enshrine it.”
He laughed, a good laugh that actually bypassed the pain in his soul. “You don’t have to shrine it…just use it. Use it good.”
We shook hands and he left.
Now, I don’t like to dwell on death and despair, but I wanted to tell you this story for a reason: that fellows son died and won’t do martial arts again. The thing that he loved the most…no more.
When I was running schools I would get a visitor every single month that wanted to tell me about when he was young, how he loved the martial arts, and how he still had his uniform hanging in the closet. Didn’t fit anymore, but that uniform was pressed and ready to go.
The message is this: do what you want to do, or your life is wasted. Don’t buy an excuse; don’t buy old age as an excuse.
I suppose what made me think of all this is that my wife and I were talking about my instructor the other day, and I mentioned that he quit the martial arts when he was about forty-five. I remember him always saying that he always had a cold. I remember him slowly stopping teaching the classes, and relying on his black belts to teach, and one day he went out and bought bar…and he sold the school to one of his students.
I went through that ‘got a cold’ thing. But I went through it, now I’m 63, and I do martial arts every day, really feel like I’ve cheated myself if I don’t work out enough.
So, whatever you have to go through, go through it, and keep doing the martial arts. And if you’re reading this and you want to do the martial arts but never did…why are you wasting your life.
Enough for now. You guys have fun.