For me it was bullying. Nothing too severe, but enough that I signed up for “Karate” when I was about 10. I was looking for protection (and unknowingly – confidence). I got those. And I also got perseverance, leadership and a family.
Marko aka Bruce Lee, and I, Chuck Norris, were one of the first students now almost 20 years ago. Over the course of a few years everyone on the picture (and a few others – sending you my best) were training Kempo Arnis religiously.
It was great. Several times a week, every week, we went there and gave it our all. Whether it was Kata training, physical conditioning, sparring or just plain goofing around during warm up, we went in 100%. It was literal blood, sweat and tears, and a lotta fun.
The coaches were awesome. Borut is of course one-of-a-kind, but shoutouts go to Damir, Kotnik and Mavsi too. Each of them brought something unique to the table, whether it was professional fighting experience, mindfulness and zen, or just learning how to be a scoundrel when needed.
Of course we didn’t learn just martial arts from them. Either through lessons or observations I learned why school is important, public speaking, leadership, taking care of your own, brotherhood… I also learned some questionable things such as how to perform the Kata Pinan Godan completely wasted, how to train with a hangover, and of course, lots of locker-room stories and advice about women.
There are so many moments… like one time when Matic and I were testing for higher belts, I pushed my body so hard I got pneumonia and had to stay in bed for a month. Another time in high school I got into a fight…and still went to training after, and somehow Borut just knew, and we talked through it…this other time when Klemen, Matic and I were chasing waitresses at the spring training camp in Tolmin…
I don’t know exactly what it was, but it’s definitely connected to Shihan Borut’s leadership style, charisma and his big heart that kept us there throughout childhood, teens (and puberty) and early adulthood. Some of us are doing something else now. Some are still excelling at Kempo. But this training session proved that we formed a strong bond that will probably last forever.
To conclude, let me quote Borut’s words just after this anniversary training session: “You’ve all grown up, and turned into some pretty amazing people.”
Now let me add something. I believe being a part of Kempo Arnis for so long helped with that, and maybe more than we realize = )
Tip: If you have kids, send them to train some sport. Do your research on the coaches and leaders beforehand. It’s not so much about what they train, but who does it. And if you have kids in Slovenia (or Germany, Malta…), send them to Kempo Arnis.