It’s not until you start writing these things down that you start to realise how much you have done in your lifetime. I’ve packed quiet a bit in to my forty something years. And whats scary is, there is so much more to write about!
From the late 1980s to the mid 1990s I met a man who really changed my life. His name is Mac Robertson. Mac not just changed my life, he has changed a lot of people’s lives over more years than he probably wouldn’t want to count.
Mac Robertson is a Karate instructor who teaches in my home town of Bury St.Edmunds. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should really mention how and why I ended up at his dojo.
I have always loved a good action flick and when the Karate Kid came out I thought it was great. I wanted to do all that karate stuff! But I put it off. It wasn’t until I worked with a guy named Colin Streeter that I finally plucked up the courage to go. What persuaded me is that one day at work Colin got beaten up by a shoplifter and I thought, “oh hell no, that’s not happening to me.” Colin was none too pleased about it happening again so off we trotted to the first Karate school we could find.
Bury St.Edmunds Kyokushinkai Karate Club is and always has been a place that turned out strong disciplined students. Colin and I were not strong or disciplined but we were ready to be students. Were we ready for Karate? most certainly not. But then Karate was not ready for us either!
We trained hard. we trained really hard! If there was a bead of sweat on our brows there was never any point is wiping it away as there would just be more there in a few seconds. As our training grew and we got more involved I came to the conclusion that all the movies I loved were just lame. I could kick Daniels ass! I wouldn’t though. I pride myself in the fact that I have never been in a street fight. I prefer to talk my way out of a fight, normally its far more entertaining!
Karate allowed me to travel to the most exotic places of the U.K. Llantrisant, Wales. (the hole with a mint in it), Perth, Scotland. Nottingham, England. (your roads system sucks) Leicester, England, (your football team sucks) Crystal Palace, London, England. (meh)
Oh the glamour.
One of the most fun things I did was Waterfall training. Colin, Steve List and I, each January would get up before the sun and drive in my crappy Ford Fiesta down the mountains of South Wales, stand under a freezing cold waterfall, go drink in a pub the still sells Double Diamond beer, and then home. Fifteen hours well spent. The best bit each year was watching Colin hit his head on a rock, or Steve trying to pick up one of the Welsh girls! People often asked me why I would do such a thing. The answer I often give is, “why not?” It seemed like a good idea at the time. Much the same as the people of Michigan run off and do the polar bear swim in freezing cold Lake Michigan, standing under a waterfall is a test of ones mind over matter. A I’ve survived mentality. Was it fun, yes. Would I do it again, probably. Was it worth it, you betcha!
I entered tournaments, and did quiet well, in both semi-contact (clicker) and full contact (knockdown). I even taught the pee-wee class which is where I started out my love of youth coaching! I came oh so close to making the England team. But what I loved the most was the feeling training gave me. When Sensei Robertson (as he was then) would put us through our paces, he would take us to the edge, throw us over, drag us back up and throw us over the edge again. Every session I would be thinking, “why the hell am I doing this?” And when the session ended I would remember why. That feeling of “I did it!” I would train hard, and Colin would try to out do me, so I would have to out do him. I think this made the rest of the class work harder, and we often heard groans from people when it came to sit ups! I could do sit ups for hours. I had a real six-pack! No one could beat me at sit ups, they came, they tried, they failed!
Shihan Robertson (as he is now) Still teaches in Bury St.Edmunds and you should check them out if you want a great work out. You will also get some great life lessons. Mac Robertson although he didn’t know it at the time was a great father figure for me. I’d lost my father in 81 as regular readers will know. Mac taught me how to carry myself with respect and honour. He tested my spirit three or four times a week, and created a solid young man. It was because of that concrete foundation he gave me that I had the courage to try out for the Parachute Regt. in the British Army.
A big thank you Mac, or should I just say Osu!