I was raised on a farm in the Dominican Republic. One of my earliest memories of the fighting arts was through my father’s fascination with boxing. I remember how he used to get excited every time his favorite boxer landed a punch. My father wanted me to be a boxer. He and some of his brothers were considered the strongest men on the farm. He noticed the same family traits in me and encouraged me to go into boxing. He saw at an early age that I had natural talent and power. He even offered to sponsor my career in it. Although I didn’t take the path of a boxer, my father respected the fact that despite my power, I was not a bully. Being exposed to boxing as a young child, I always knew that I wanted to be a fighter but I didn’t see the point of two people getting into the ring to fight for no reason. The mission behind my desire to be a fighter wasn’t about titles, trophies or glory. It was about self-defense and defense of others. It was about sticking up for the underdog. It was about survival.
As a kid, I was very creative and liked to entertain people in town by singing and dancing. I was also a very hard working farm boy and my family and neighbors took notice. So did my classmates who were very jealous of the attention I was getting in the neighborhood. I started having problems in school and knew that at some point, I was going to have to stand up for myself. I didn’t tell my parents what was going on and resolved to deal with the problems myself. While part of me was scared, another part of me was very excited. I had always identified with the underdog and was a defender of those who were picked on or unable to fight back.
I remember one day when I was ten years old, my father sent me downtown on a horse to pick up a 200-pound bag of rice. As made my way back home, I noticed a man insulting one of the women in my neighborhood. I yelled at him to leave her alone, but he yelled back “Listen little rabbit, you are too small to tell me what to do.” I jumped off the horse and went after this guy who was about three times my size and age. I fought as hard as I could. Finally someone broke up the fight. I thought I was going to choke him to death!! My father found out about it and told me never to do that again, especially against someone who had so much physical advantage. The woman never forgot what I did for her that day. That was the greatest reward.
It was at this time that I also realized the power that could be generated in the legs. I was milking one of our cows, which was in a particularly bad mood that day. So she kicked me! I got so angry that I got up, took a step back and kicked her in the stomach, knocking her down. My father saw what I had done and gave me a spanking. Even though I was being punished, I couldn’t believe what I had done.
To be continued…
Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness
507 Westport Ave, Norwalk CT 06851