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Happy Birthday Blaze -- 14 years old

A huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Blaze Martial Arts, turning fourteen years old on the 11th June.

It's been an incredible, life changing journey. 

Not just for me, but for everyone involved.

Read how it all started and how Blaze Martial Arts has helped to change people's lives.

My son asked me recently ‘Do you think you’d have started Blaze if you hadn’t been attacked all those years ago?’

It was a good question… and I told him so.

Until that moment I had always told (bored) people with the story of how I got attacked, and how it changed my life but ‘would I have started Blaze had I NOT got attacked?’

We all need motivation to start something.

We start diets because we want to lose weight.

We start exercising because we want to get fit.

We start going out because we want to have fun.

And I started training in the martial arts because I didn’t ever want to be in a situation where I got attacked and didn’t have a clue how to defend myself.

Again.

That was my motivation.

Particularly as I was just entering that stage of my life when it was possible that I might just end up in the middle of some drunken confrontation.

But I had always loved the martial arts.

I’d spend hours watching all the Bruce Lee movies.

All those really bad ninja films.

And I’d re-enact them all out in my mother’s lounge once the movie had finished, much to her frustration.

I think it was fair to say I was fascinated with the martial arts and so I believe I would have eventually found the martial arts without that initial push that I received.

Now whether I’d have stuck at it is another thing though... so perhaps that attack was destined.

I found the training back in the 80’s tough.

I had chosen to study a very traditional fighting style (it’s all there was at the time), and the training was hard and military like.

Standing for hours and hours blocking and punching the air was enough to ensure the school only had fifteen students… compared to the hundreds of students Blaze now has.

And I won’t lie….

I hated it.

But because I believed I was learning to defend myself.

Because I believed I was learning to fight.

I stuck at it when I could have easily quit many times over.

I was a bit of a quitter as well.

I think most of us are deep down.

Lots of other students quit.

I’d regularly see people start training.

Adults and kids.

But within three months they were gone.

But not me.

And little did I know that this refusal to quit.

This never give up attitude.

Was paving the way for my future.

You see I was never going to make it as a doctor.

Or a lawyer.

I just wasn’t intelligent enough.

Once I’d finished my education I bounced around a few jobs that didn’t really pay all that well.

Most of them got in the way of my training.

And then when I was about nineteen I stumbled into a job that took me all over the country.

I had a great role model in my boss and he taught me the importance of hard work.

During the twelve years I worked with him I never took a day off sick (he wouldn’t let me).

I would work all the hours I could.

I was always the first one in.

The last one out.

I’d even work on my days off.

Without pay.

He taught me that you have to give before you get.

Give your time.

Your commitment.

Your loyalty.

Your sweat.

And then you’d get your reward.

And it might take years.

There’s a saying in the entertainment world….

‘It takes at least ten years to become an overnight success!’

I’ve always kept that in the back of my mind.

Then the time came to settle down.

Buy a house.

Get married.

Start a family.

I was still training in the martial arts whenever I could (I never stopped).

I got a job locally and I thought that to help make ends meet I’d teach some martial arts in the evening.

So I found a school hall in Windsor (the same one we still use)

Did some advertising

And Blaze was born.

And it grew.

And grew

And grew.

And within six short months I had to make a decision.

Do I close it down because it had simply got too big to manage alongside my current demanding job?

Or do Sam and I take a massive chance?

So I gave up my company car.

My expense account.

My nice secure, regular income.

Changed our mortgage to interest only.

Took out all our savings (not much at the time).

And we bought a second hand banger of a van (with no power steering!)

And went back to earning a pittance of a wage brought in by the forty odd students I was teaching, once all my debts had been cleared, that month.

It was a massive gamble.

Especially as we also had our first child on the way.

But we worked.

And we worked.

And we worked.

Hard.

We didn’t take a holiday for about six years.

In fact we didn’t go anywhere because we simply couldn’t afford to.

We pounded the streets on a daily basis putting leaflets through doors.

With Harley strapped to my chest in his baby carrier.

We spent all our money on newspaper adverts and marketing schemes.

And slowly the school grew.

Once we had a bit of surplus cash we invested it back into the business in the form of equipment and a newer van (with power steering).

And after many years of repeating this we were eventually able to start paying off the mortgage again.

Students, that would later go on to become coaches, instructors and even run their own schools, started helping out in the classes.

That’s when we became one huge family.

But it wasn’t without its challenges.

There were so many challenges thrown at us.

Challenges thrown at us from directions we could never have expected.

People we trusted let us down.

Some deliberately.

Every time we had a bit of success, someone wanted to knock us right back down again.

But we overcame it all.

We still do.

But from the lessons learnt way back in my teenage years.

Of NEVER giving up.

NEVER quitting.

No matter what!

I put my head down and pushed harder through.

Jumped through all those hoops.

Fought all those fires.

I took all the life lessons I had learnt over my thirty years and I applied them to Blaze.

And fourteen years later we have achieved some incredible things.

Met some amazing people.

And had a massive impact on the lives of so many.

Changing some of those lives along the way.

And I wouldn’t change any of it as I honestly believe it’s those experiences, good or bad, that shape us into the people that we become.

People say we’ve been lucky.

And you know what…

The harder I work the luckier I get.

So, ‘Would I have started Blaze all those years ago had I not been attacked?’

Or would I be doing something else right now?

I can honestly say that I’d be doing this.

Because I think we’re all destined to do certain things.

And regardless of our background.

Our circumstances.

Or our situation.

When the time is right.

Those things.

Those opportunities.

Will present themselves to us.

I know mine did.

And had I missed it the first time around (I probably did).

I believe it would have found a way to come back round to me again.

And again.

And again.

Until the time was right.

-----

Now go and live your dreams!

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