In July, of this year, I will have been a student in the martial arts for 24 years. You may be asking, "A student? Why aren't you teaching?" Well, as Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the martial art, aikido, used to say, "One never truly stops learning".
In the world of the martial arts, this statement is very true. The martial arts keep growing and changing for our benefit. No matter how young or old you are, there is a martial art to study.
As best I recall, in May of 1982, I made a conscious decision to sit in the back seat of our school bus, before our ride home. I always wanted to and, besides, my friends wanted to as well. Most of us were in the eighth grade and high school was around the corner. At that time, our junior high school shared buses with the local Catholic school. After school, students from the Catholic school would board after us. No problem, right?
There were two seventh grade boys, who boarded the bus that afternoon, who weren't too happy that we took 'their' seats. And me being smaller (and fatter) than the other boys, well, I was easy pickings. Both kids were much taller than I and built like football players. They asked me to leave their seat. I knew trouble was coming and as I got up, I was forcefully pushed back down into it.
That's when the beatings began. One would hold me against the seat while the other punched. Then they would switch. For what seemed like hours, amidst the name calling and my friends watching helplessly, I was punched from top to bottom. Through the attack, the bus driver never stopped to help. I guess she feared she couldn't control the situation by herself. To this day, I still don't know why.
When their stop came, they immediately stopped hitting me, gathered their backpacks and left. Everyone on the bus was silent except for the sounds of my weeping. I had blood dripping from my lips and numerous bruises on my face. As I walked off the bus that day, no one said a word of condolence to me. No one.
As I walked into the front door of my home, my mother instantly knew what happened. She did the best she could by cleaning my wounds and comforting my tears. This was not the first time I had been bullied, but it was the first time I was badly beaten.
In previous bullying accounts, my parents would go to the Principal and complain. At each school I had previously attended, the Principal would say the same thing, "This is not a matter of the school's. Deal with it yourselves."
This time, however, my parents knew that the end of the school year was rapidly approaching and nothing would be done. No punishment would ever take place.
For a long time afterward, I chose to sit in the front seat of the bus, always behind the driver. Summer was coming and I looked forward to my freedom.
It was the last time I would ever be bullied.
It was the last time that a person would ever harm me again.
Tomorrow, My Martial Arts Journey - Part 2: The Training Begins.
P.S. When you pray tonight, please include all the children who are bullied with no one to rescue them. May God grant them comfort and peace.