Blog

Oct 5, 2017

Family Circle


Relative Values

Posted by: Dan

One time, when I was a little kid, my father said to me, "You are the oldest, s you are responsible for all your younger brothers and sisters. If anyone does anything wrong, you will be punished."

At Merrylee Convent School for boys and girls aged 5-8 years, Sister Mary Clare made me captain wearing a red ribbon over my shoulder. I was 5 years old. I have a wonderful daughter, but do you know how difficult it is to be in charge of Glasgow girls of 5-8 years?

In the summer holidays, after leaving school and waiting to start university, I was waiting in the car with my mother for brother John, a  hurdler. We noticed a bunch  of barefoot guys wearing white pyjamas and coloured belts. They were punching and kicking into thin air. My mother probably regretted for the rest of her life, you need to do some sport now you've left school. What about that stuff? The very next Saturday I joined up.

After the sectarianism of spending 8 years in Jesuit, boys only schools, it was a relief to meet normal Glaswegians of all backgrounds and practice karate together. After a couple of years the club split in two. I stayed with the older teacher, an ex- commando furniture salesman called Al Doran. In our karate family, I was only a brown belt, but was one of only 3 'senior' people to stay with him. The others all left with the other main teacher, a well known member of the British karate team. I never regretted my choice. I became Al's assistant with the beginners and later helped his daughter with the kids. I was 19 years old.

I realized this was what I wanted to do with my life. I had learned from the Japanese karate masters to punish all mistakes with severity. I often swept beginners to the ground without warning. It was like being back at school or home.

Then Al invited Nanbu to come over to Glasgow from Paris.

After he left, I replaced brutality with humour and insult with understanding. One thing never changed; if anyone stepped out of line, Al would call me over and whisper 'Gyakutsuki Danny.' Al would call the guy over to spar with me and in a few seconds I'd hit the guy with a reverse punch to the body and he'd hit the floor. I wasn't ready in our karate family to be brother, uncle or dad. I became an enforcer - a 426 Red Pole in Chinese Triad parlance as I was later to learn in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force. Every family needs an enforcer. I was good at it. Maybe I still am...

 

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