Apologies for the delay in writing this week’s blog. It has been incredibly hectic but now I have found a quiet moment during my day off I can finally begin writing a post which is slightly different to the normal content. The focus of this blog is on Lisa my first official student, the brave mother of two kids who changed my life and everything I thought I knew about being an instructor. When I met her in 2014, I wasn’t quite sure who I would be teaching. At the time, my system was in the final stages of being perfected and got the tick of approval from my CQC training partner Jeremy. I then knew this was ready to teach the masses.
I was working at a newly refurbished training facility in Ringwood, which was designed by former Defence Personnel respite with camouflage paint sprayed on the concrete walls inside, and climbing ropes, weights area, basketball hoops, running track and hyperbaric chamber. It was a real bloke’s gym and the main clientele were ex-footballers, former soldiers, body builders and stereotypical gym junkies clad in tight fitting muscle shirts, tracksuits and fluorescent sneakers. The smell of sweat and determination, just emanated from the air.
I was given a Thursday night slot to teach a class once a week. At first nobody showed up the first few sessions, but an acquaintance of mine expressed interest in learning self-defence and travelled over an hour to train with me. I was humbled, and despite the glares and looks I was receiving from the other members of the gym and some of the trainers, I took pride in this as my student defied the stereotypes that normally frequent the gym. She had shoulder length dark hair, wore glasses, was of a very slim, but athletic build, in her 30s and had two young children. Far different from the other female trainers at the gym, who were tall, tanned and ripped with muscle with their bleached blonde hair and coloured lipstick, complete with their Lorna Jane active wear.
Her mother would drop her off to training, and truthfully, I could see that she was different to anyone I have ever taught before. I may not have had as many clients as the other trainers, but my student had something else. Purpose.
I respect Lisa, for stepping out of her comfort zone and training in a place that would make most women feel uncomfortable. She could have joined her local Fernwood Gym and took up a Boxing Class. But, clearly she knew what I could teach her had substance.
Teaching her initially was difficult, due to repressed memories from abuse she had suffered, and we did take small steps covering the basics such as distancing and footwork, but as time went on Lisa began to see the merits of my teaching and began to understand my elaborate training methods. She began to flourish like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. From being unable to have me stand close to her, to her doing sit ups, push ups, skipping and completing a flash pad circuit without raising a sweat. Her reaction speed was impeccable to say the least. To reward her for her hard work, I gave her a custom embroidered pair of fight shorts complete with our rooster logo, her name and the nickname I gave her 'Arma Letale' which translates into Lethal Weapon in Italian. This made her incredibly happy, as the shorts were made of the finest green, white and red satin just like the Italian flag and now she truly looked the part with her training T-Shirt and fight shorts.
Often, I would recommend books for her to read, and each week she would complete the reading task I had set, and would ask for more books. I always like to think of her as my Maggie Fitzgerald (Played by Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby). I was training her like Frankie Dunn (Played by Clint Eastwood in the same movie), and as time went on she was no longer just my student she became my friend and the inspiration of why I teach the people I do. Personal Protection Training is designed around her, and women like Lisa. She is my muse, someone who inspires me to keep making this system better all the time. I wouldnt have accomplished what I have if it wasnt for Lisa.
She was the reason I looked forward to training, and even one of the bodybuilders could see the difference I made in her life in such a fleeting period, even he tried to steal my student so he could teach her. With much defiance Lisa declined his offer and stuck with me, till the day she couldn’t train anymore due to her medical diagnosis. As upsetting as this was for me, it laid the groundwork for the business as it stands today.
Now you have heard my side of the story I would like Lisa, to tell her side of it and read for yourself how she let go of her fears and became a martial artist. She ignored ridicule from her peers and persisted with the training, despite being told 'A mother of two kids, has no place on the mats' by a so called "friend"
My journey into the martial art world began the day I found out that someone I used to know on many levels was getting released from jail for a crime that they committed against me when I was just a high school student. At the time, I was only 17 years of age and this was my first experience into the world of domestic violence. I have felt fear since the time it had occurred, and I wasn’t quite sure how to cope with the events that unfurled all those years ago.
I would like to fast forward to late 2014, which was when I first contacted my fellow trainer Simon and spoke to him about trying Self Defence Session. I had been previously participating in roller derby (competitive rollerblading) and had a major knee injury that I had to recover from before even starting my first ever training session with Simon.
When I first met Simon, I was very unsure where I'd be taken on this martial art journey. I found his training ignited my passion to dream again and get my freedom back. While training with him I found that not only did I learn impressive, easy to use techniques but also read a lot of useful educational material that I have kept on reading many times over regarding self-defence as well as self-development.
As time went on I kept to my training regime with Simon. I also did other activities to fill the gaps, which gave me much enjoyment such as running, swimming and netball. Every time I trained with Simon I was always told anything you learn on the mats stays on the mats.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen medical circumstances I have had to change martial art styles due to being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Simon had suggested while I recover I learn Tai Chi, to help me heal. This diagnosis has not stopped me from training or even stop my affinity and fascination with the martial art world. I have learnt things from both Simon, and Charles my Tai Chi instructor. I have the respect for both and I hold them in high regard on and of the mats.