I recall another incident where a friend of mine was being picked on and he was too afraid to stick up for himself. Again, here was someone larger than me, but I didn’t care. Some of my friends wanted to help me fight him because we were so unevenly matched, but I wanted to take him on myself. I used my legs, kicking him relentlessly. When my father heard that I was yet again in another fight, he was angry until he heard that I won the fight!!
One of my first unofficial students was my little brother. He was being challenged to fight by one of the local bullies. I told him to drop back after the kid started fighting and punch him with all his might. He did just what I told him and knocked the guy out. All the work with the cows taught me not only the power of the legs, but also the advantages of a powerful and speedy counterattack. I incorporated this philosophy into my system, which is largely based on effective deflecting blows and followed with counterattacking techniques.
While my father did not approve of the fights I would get into, understand that I was never the aggressor. I didn’t start fights needlessly, nor was I a bully. When I fought, it was to defend another or myself and in some instances, to prove a point. Where I grew up, it was part of the male culture to be strong and not back down from a fight. So while my father didn’t’ condone fighting, he admired my skill and courage.
I left my family farm and went to Santiago to continue my academic studies. It was there that I was first exposed to the martial arts after seeing a karate demonstration, lead by a man named Rafael Martinez, who would later become my good friend and teacher. I took my first class where I was taught high, middle and low blocks, reverse punch, and a front, side and roundhouse kick. I took these few movements and practiced them for three months straight before I went back to the school again. It was during this time that I focused on developing my power. Three months later, I returned. With just the few techniques that I had mastered, I was able to successfully spar my classmates and gain their respect despite the fact that I was three times smaller than anyone else and that most of them were black belts. These were not your average karate practitioners; they were killers. While martial arts today are more of a recreational sport, back then, you had to fight for your life. There was no referee, no rules, and no pads.
I also learned something about myself in the course of my three months of training. I knew that I had a natural talent for the martial arts. I believe that when you are given a natural talent, no matter what it is, that you should pursue it. I was determined to take the gift that I was given and develop it to the best of my ability. I also knew that I could not abuse my talents and that I would only put them to good use. That is one of the reasons why I decided to make martial arts my business.
to be continued…
Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness
507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851