Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saying Goodbye

As a dojo owner, I see a lot of faces come and go. Some students come to our mats for a couple of months then move on. Other students find a love for what we do and stay for years. Then there are students who find the love in a very short time but, as a result of life circumstances, have to move on. We had to say goodbye to one such student last night at my Vancouver Jiu-jitsu dojo.

Ray, featured here with me in this photo, was only with us for 5 months but found a love for the dojo that many people take years to develop. He came to us this past January with a background of 9 months training in a different style of Jiu-jitsu in Singapore.

He was an eager student right from the beginning. He even asked to grapple me after class on his first class. Knowing that he was about the same size as me and far less experienced, I decided to take it easy on him, letting him try a few moves, but ultimately tapping him out when I got the opportunity. Ironically, he confessed to me recently that because I did this, he almost didn't join. He had thought, "I don't know about this Sensei, with her experience, shouldn't she be completely dominating me?" I couldn't help but find this cute and laugh in retrospect.

He did end up joining of course and in doing so threw himself completely into his training. Ray showed up early for almost every class and attended most open training sessions. Since he was a good size match for me, I even invited him to come train with me during my MMA sessions with my coach a number of times, which he also embraced. He would also box with my coach whenever invited, eager to learn whatever he could.

Ray is extremely friendly and positive and always brought this with him onto our mats. Everyone in the dojo enjoyed training with him. And even though he was only with us for 5 months and had only reached the rank of yellow belt in his time, he managed to be uke for 4 different students' belt tests, including one green belt test.

For Ray's last day of training, he came in early to train with me and my coach, taking every opportunity to spar and grapple that he could. During class, I went out of my way to use him as my demonstration uke. He threw himself into the role with gusto. He hurled himself at me at sprinting speed so I could demonstrate the defense for bear hug rushing, letting himself get kicked at this speed with a very accurate thrust kick to the solar plexus. At the end of class, I put Ray in the middle of a Jiu-jitsu circle having our students come at him with random attacks for 2 minutes. It was his first and last time doing a circle with us.

It was with a heavy heart that we all said goodbye to this great student and wonderful friend. Though he will be missed, we all expect to stay in touch.

Good luck doing your phd in Hamilton, Ray! You're always welcome back on our mats.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well written article. I have also seen these types of people. Its a shame that life stops them sometimes from doing what they love where they loved but what can you do. good luck to him!