For anyone not familiar with Karate lingo, “Hanshi” is a Japanese word that means “respected one” or “grand master”. The training that I received from Hanshi Albert Mady has improved my life in countless ways. At Mady’s Chicara Dojo in Windsor, Ontario, Albert Mady taught me to control my body and my mind. I learned, through Albert, that martial arts is not about violence or showing off, but rather, about living with integrity, respect, honor, and balance.
I also learned that there is no shame in being a “white belt” and that in fact a “black belt” is a really old white belt. Albert taught me many more invaluable lessons, but I don’t want to ramble here. I want to tell you how Hanshi Albert Mady saved my life, more than once!
On the first such occasion, I was attacked by cowardly “men” in a downtown bar. I was alone, or so I thought. For a split-second, I thought I might be headed for the emergency room, or worse. But then, in under one second, I received “Hanshi’s Download”. At the precise moment that I needed help, Hanshi was “there” with me. Punches and kicks were coming in from all directions. None of these distracted me from hearing Hanshi’s calm, clear voice. It was a concise summary of more than five years of training:
Lesson #1: Keep standing. It sounds simple. But this one little point is the most important and most powerful life-saving tip of all.
Lesson #2: Nothing fancy. This ain’t Hollywood. Do you want to look basic and survive, or look pretty and die?
Lesson #3: Ki-ai! The spirit yell is more powerful than you think!
Lesson #4: In tight spaces, use elbows and knees!
Lesson #5: Take out the biggest guy first. I took him out with a ki-ai and a knee kick to the groin.
Lesson #6: Don’t stop to watch the effect of your previous move.
Lesson #7: Take out the next biggest guy immediately. That one got an elbow and another ki-ai.
Lesson #8: Take out the ugliest guy that’s still standing.
Lesson #9: Relax.
The lessons all came back to me simultaneously, as if the instructions were “downloaded” directly to my brain, knees, elbows and fists. It was a reminder of what I already knew from training at Mady’s. Albert trains all of his students to defend against multiple attackers. We practice against two and three opponents regularly. Curiously, I had asked the grand master what to do if there should be more than three. “The same thing” was his reply. “Your job is to eliminate the biggest and ugliest three. The other will run like chickens. Remember, only cowards would ever conduct a group attack on you. No real man nor any person trained in karate would ever do such a thing.”
Albert Mady has trained many world-champion fighters, but I am not one of them. My story shows that even an average karate student, like me, if given the chance to study with a great instructor like Albert Mady, can absorb the teachings. Stick with the practice, even if it seems unlikely that you will ever be attacked. Karate skills are life skills, and they become one with you.
I know of at least a half-dozen stories of lives being saved by Albert Mady. And there are surely dozens more that I haven’t yet heard.
A few years after the incident that I described above, my life was threatened again. I had accidentally walked onto the turf of a tribe of cannibals. About forty warriors surrounded me. The largest and ugliest of the group advanced toward me showing me their teeth and claws.
With Albert Mady in my corner, I was able to stay cool as a cucumber. With a calm, collected mind, I was able to execute the #1 rule in Sun Tzu’s epic book The Art of War: “win all without fighting”. Making peace with one’s opponent is the greatest victory for a martial artist.