The Green Dragon had a huge heart and gave so much of it away that he had none left for himself.
He taught little dragons to roar, larger dragons to roll and older dragons how to stand strong and mighty, even when they were weak and frail.
He taught senior dragons the secrets of sharing their hearts.
He did everything for his family and would help anyone in need.
Today is the funeral of a senior sensei, someone I knew from the day I began my journey. He was a brown belt then. One a few good men who helped fill the void I had from losing my brother, father and grandfathers. Known as Big Dave, a name that the kids called him was a father figure to ALL in our martial arts family.
He was one of 3 men who helped fill my father’s role, in different ways. The third man, Mr T who I am second to in his club, is one of Big Dave’s closest friends and was brought to the club and trained by him and with him. Before Mr T it was always another good friend Mr P that he trained with. They were brothers in arms. Later on literally as they progressed to weapons.
Many a Wednesday night after class me, my friend K, Big Dave and Mr P bonded learning extra curricular break falls. Two guys training two girls to get up to their standard, and having a great laugh. K and Big Dave often discussing tattoos, he had many and some were being transformed and blended into the green dragon that went from the back of his neck, down his arms around his back and the tail wound all down one leg to his ankle.
We trained like this for many years and they were our training partners in class as well as after class, and they got us to brown belt just before they got their blacks. Sometimes his wife would join us, sometimes his kids were there too.
Once they were Dan they had to share their teaching around so we saw less of them and the Wednesday club had to move so no more extra curricular learning for us. Things changed quite a lot at this point.
He helped many many women to punch and get through their fears of hurting people, by showing them what they were doing wasn’t hurting him. As he was a big solid builder.
We thought were going to lose him about five years ago, when he had several successive heart attacks at the end of one of our classes. The readiness of all the students present was electric, waiting for instructions, anything to help such a trusted teacher. Mr T and our Chief were there all the way to the hospital with Big Dave. The rest of us waited on tenterhooks and us higher grades passed on any info to concerned students and parents.
He was strong, stronger than any of us could have imagined and pulled through. Almost back to perfect health, well the appearance of it. He didn’t stop, he was our first aid trainer and started his own clubs in both karate and tai chi. He had well researched self defence classes for all types of people.
Grief does strange things to people, I should know. Some people do whatever they can to control things. His wife in her grief has stated that no female student and Mr T are not welcome at the funeral. We will respect that as Big Dave loved his wife very much. So tonight the club will be run in tribute and I will be there instead.
He is a devastating loss to the club and leaves a fantastic legacy. With any luck we will have learnt his strength and generosity of heart, to pass on to others, so that he will live on forever. As every great sensei should.