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Martial Arts, Musings, Writing

Self-protection and fatherhood – Letting go


My Taekwondo birthday is April 1st, 1991. I always wanted to study martial arts because I was bullied. Not because I liked the sport aspect, or because I wanted to improved myself, but because I wanted to be able to hurt the bullies as much or more than they hurt me. As result, I always enjoyed learning the self-defence aspect the most.

I joined the Special Constables for two reasons;

1) Becuase I wanted to join the Police and needed to see if I could hack it.
2) So that I could test myself in real, honest-to-god situtations.

During that time I dealt with drunks, druggies, homeless, the mentally ill, chavs and would-be rapists. I kicked my way through reinforced glass doors and ran the length of Exeter High Street to get to the aid of a fellow constable. One of the highlights was acting as an escort for Ruud Hullet.

As I continued to train, I came across pressure points courtesy of Rick Clark and used them to enhance my training. From there I started to look at making my training as realistic as I could, with the resources I had. Thanks to my role as Features Editor, I managed to get places on two life-changing courses.

The first was Lee Sansum’s Family Awareness Safety Training, the second was Jim Wagner’s Reality Based Personal Protection. These completely changed the way that I viewed martial arts, self-defence and gave me the tools I needed to make sure that I kept myself and my family as safe as I could.

As I wrote my first book, Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots

I realised that I needed to test myself again, and became a Door Supervisor, working such places as the Manor Hotel, Carina’s, and the Q Club.

All of this experience allowed me to develop my soft skills; the skills that allow me to look for, see and avoid trouble before it becomes and to be aware of what is and isn’t sensible behaviour.

This is great when it comes to keeping my family safe when they’re with me. It’s not great when my eldest daughter wants to have more independence. Like wanting to be allowed to seperate from us to walk to school.

This morning, I kissed her goodbye, and let her walk the last one hundred yards or so to her school. It was sunny, there were lots of other cihldren and parents, the birds were singing, and I felt sick to the bottom of my stomach.

Every single fibre of my body was screaming ‘grab her hand, walk her to the classroom door, and don’t forget to wrap her up in cotton wool whilst you’re at it.’

She’s an intelligent, beautiful, and clever girl (I didn’t mention she’s two years ahead of her academic level did I?). She knows how to use the traffic light system to rate safety, she can scream her lungs out, and she knows how to identify people she should and shouldn’t approach should she be lost or need help.

None of that helps, as my situationally aware (read fatherly-paranoid) brain runs through all of the blood-chilling scenarios-from-hell it can think of. Letting go, is one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced and, whether or not she’s ready, I’m bloody well not. God help anyone who looks at her in the wrong way!

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.

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