My interest in the Martial Arts began way back in 1973 when the legendary Bruce Lee burst onto the movie scene with Enter The Dragon. I was mesmerised by him and couldn't believe my luck when the first Kung Fu school in Bristol opened up soon after.
I stayed for about 3 years and was about to be graded for blue belt when a bad knee injury put me out of action for quite a while.,I also took part in a couple of amateur tournaments during that time. On my return to training I found that most of my friends seemed to have left and it didn't seem the same so I drifted away.
Many years later I saw an article about Kevin O'Hagan in the Evening Post and as I wanted a more complete art for my son to train in I called him and visited him at home for some details.
From that time of around September 1998 I became hooked again and watched my son improve and asked if an 'Old Man' could still be involved at the adult classes.
I was 43 at the time and that was the start of a remarkable journey for me that resulted in a Ist Dan grading on 13th December 2009 with my training partner Rich Williams.
It had taken 9 months to get off the mark with my Red belt and I remember the day started with a 4 hour outdoor training session at a school near the Portway.
Even though I found that hard work I still went to the 4.30pm class on the same day for another 2 hours of training where I was awarded my Ist belt.
Gradually over the years I made steady progress through the comprehensive syllabus on the grades and was pleased to be the first Purple Belt in the new grading system and later, on 6th July 2008 achieved my Brown belt with colleagues Rich, Mike and Dave at a grading with Pete Dunn.
The Tuesday evening grappling sessions at 'Lifestyles' with the senior grades remain the most consistently hard sessions and I regularly dragged myself off of the mats. Other training days at Whitchurch sports centre and the many seminars attended have all contributed to a gradual rise up the grades which culminated in the award of the Ist Dan.
That day is etched on my mind as the hardest personal day of effort that I can remember.
The planned start time was 10.30am, I had thought about the grading many times and knew that I would be pushed to the limit. To conserve some energy I had planned to do a gentle but effective warm up.
At 10.10am the plan went out of the window as Sensei called Richard and myself in and started the grading with what seemed like the hardest warm up that I could remember.
I hadn't done one thing from the syllabus and already I felt tired. The focus and determination had kicked in thou and we started with our 25 throws or take downs.
Knife and Gun defence followed, then assisting a victim under attack and fighting from the floor against a standing opponent.
I know now that I can function while fatigued and I carry on with my seated chair defences. The pressure is cranked up as I have to defend against multiple attackers who are both armed and unarmed. The anatomy questions and striking atemi bring the pace down but then I see Sensei putting on some boxing gloves and when he says 'Its nothing personal' I know its going to get tough again .I manage to avoid the body shots that I have seen have a devastating effect on others but he lands one plum on my forehead which shudders me but I survive and time is called.
The tank is long since empty but I have to carry on and its ground grappling next with3rd Dan Tony Watt ,he is all over me like a rash but I keep moving and doing my best. I am exhausted now and at the end I am told just get to your feet and we will stop but every time that I push him away he jumps back on top of me. The mind is clear I can hear the encouragement from the watching class members but I cannot get up, I keep getting him off and he keeps coming back. I'm thinking how do I get him off without really kicking my training partner in the face but then I scramble to my feet.
I sit down and think ive done it but no, I'm called back onto the mat again for more throws and take downs. Now I think all right you want more effort and I get a buzz of energy from somewhere my mind has told me that I'm nearly there and even thou the throws seem to go on and on finally I really have done it.
I have found out that I can act in the T.CUP as Sir Clive Woodward put it; Thinking Clearly Under Pressure. People are always existing or achieving. today I achieved
Assisting with the childrens class for 12 years has been very rewarding and seeing my son achieve his Blue belt before he left the class at 16 years old was a proud moment. I passed 3 tests to qualify as a childrens martial arts assistant instructor in 2000 with the 'Mastaar' organisation and still enjoy helping them to progress.
I can honestly say that being involved in this training and knowing Sensei O'Hagan has been a very positive influence on me.
Kevin O'Hagan | Jake O'Hagan | Tom O'Hagan | Tony Watt | Pete Dunn | Dave Tanner | Oliver Kimberley