Life is not a Dress Rehearsal

English novelist Rose Tremain famously said this quote “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

It’s a great reminder that in the grander scheme of things, there are no second chances and we only get one shot at it, so why not try? We only have a limited period of time on this planet and we’re not practicing for something else.The lights are on, the curtain is up and the audience has bought their tickets. This is the real thing. The time is now!

And so we have some critical questions to answer and decisions to make.

Do we potter away at meaningless activities or do we live with purpose?

Do we choose to be controlled by our fears or do we act with boldness?

Do we squander our talents or do we maximise our potential?

Do we spend our days complaining about life or do we identify a multitude of reasons to be grateful?

Do we wait to be chosen or do we choose ourselves?

Do we live on a treadmill or do we make progress towards meaningful goals?

Do we keep saying, “One day I will” or do we make today the day that we do?

Do we become self centred or do we make a positive difference in the lives of others?

Do we wait for something to happen or do we make it happen?

Do we criticise the efforts of others or do we become the person in the arena?

Because this isn’t a dress rehearsal. There are no second chances.The stakes are high.

How will you live your life? If you aren't sure then I would like to introduce to a man I met recently at the AMAHOF convention held in Liverpool NSW the other week. AMAHOF or the Australian Martial Art Hall Of Fame convention is where martial artists and instructors from across the country gather to partake in workshops, learning new styles of martial arts, network with others and attend a ceremony in which AMAHOF recognises the achievements of instructors who have dedicated their lives to the Martial Arts Industry, and their students. It is also awarded to those who have achieved greatness in the martial arts.

I had the pleasure of meeting this man pictured below. His name is John Marrable, AMAHOF inductee for 2017. I watched him perform a self defence demonstration. What amazed me was despite being confined to a wheelchair he has studied Karate for almost 50 years, and was able to defend himself from an able bodied individual. I filmed a video to prove that anyone can learn martial arts regardless of their circumstances. After connecting with John, I asked if he could do an interview with me, which he happily agreed upon.

However, due to our busy schedules we couldnt arrange a live interview. He has graciously answered some of my questions via email written in bold italics so we can learn more about him. Please read them below.

How did you become involved with training and who were your biggest influences?

Prior to my accident, I broke my back when I was 11, I was often picked on and liked the idea of being able to defend myself. I had been interested in unarmed combat from growing up after the war in the UK having had my father and Uncles in the armed forces and was keen to learn a martial art. In the early 70’s along came Bruce Lee and the TV series Kung Fu these strengthened my desire to become a martial arts student.

What books were influential to you when you began to study martial arts by yourself?

I read and studied from a variety of books on Kung-fu and karate as there was quite a few available in the early 70’s following the kung-fu movies that were around. One book I still have is Bruce Tegner’s “Complete Book of Jukado Self Defence” The first books I bought when starting to train at a dojo were by Don Dreager, Classical Bujitsu, Classical Budo and Modern Bujitsu and Budo. Also as I first started to train in Kyokushinkai another book was Mas Oyama's Essentials of Karate. This was a special book as it featured Sensei John Jarvis (the head of our organisation in New Zealand, the Rembuden Institute of Martial Arts and Ways). Later books where those by Sensei Morio Higaonna, the head of the style of karate I do, Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate, being the 4 volumes on Traditiona Karatedo Okinawan Goju Ryu

Describe your first experience travelling to Japan and the reception you received from Sensei Hiagonna as well as the Japanese for your efforts in Karate?

My first trip to Japan was to the 1981 Budosai in Naha Okinawa. I had already met Sensei Higaonna when he was first in New Zealand at the invite of Sensei John Jarvis. The next time was in 1980 when he graded me to shodan. When in Naha Higaonna Sensei asked me to do a demonstration and I was interviewed by local TV and paper. At that time I was told that I was only one of five people known to have gained their black belt while in a wheelchair. I was unable to ascertain where the others were at that time. Everyone I met on my trip were supportive as has been each subsequent trip.

Has there been many instances where your Karate training has saved you from a possible altercation?

There have been occasions on my travels overseas where I have been approached by unsavoury characters but my training has enabled me to defuse the situation without having to physical use my training.

What are your thoughts about the promotion of wheelchair sports within Australia and is there a community of people who train in martial arts like yourself?

Sport for everyone is important and it is well documented that prior to the late Sir Ludwig Guttmann introducing recreation to spinal cord patients their expected life span was 12 weeks after injury. I believe that it is important that everyone do some form of sport or recreation whether they have a disability or not. There is an increasing number of persons with various disabilities training in a martial art in the world in main stream dojos and some similar to one a close friend of mine, Lee Hart started in 2008. Lee started up Budo Culture for Disabled which trains in Dunedin New Zealand.

What benefits have you gained from taking up martial arts?

The martial arts training has enabled me to keep myself fit and healthy for a paraplegic of 50 years. It has also given me self-confidence to travel overseas on myself. It has allowed me to become involved in motivational speaking, teaching personal security to both able bodied and persons with various disabilities in New Zealand and overseas.

What are your other interests besides martial arts?

I have competed in Paralympic sports representing New Zealand in the 1977 FESPIC games held in Paramata Sydney. I still play table tennis both able bodied and Para table tennis.

Is there any specific quotes or affirmations you live by?

My motto is “Live Life to The Fullest”.

Thanks John for giving me this opportunity to interview you and congratulations are in order for John, as he received a lifetime achievement award into AMAHOF for his conribution to Goju Ryu Karate and the promotion of wheelchair self defence for disabled people around the world.

If you would like to learn more about John visit his website

It has been a privilege to have met him and I endeavour to keep in touch with this inspirational man who clearly demonstrates the very notion of determination and persistance.

So, tell me then what is your reason for not training? Food for thought..

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