Marshall Norman 11/04

   Sometimes in our lives we are forced to make decisions that will change us forever. These decisions can come in many shapes and forms…. “Do I want to marry this person?” “Do I want to go to college here?” “Do I want to move and live here?”. We all are faced with these types of choices at some point. A very important choice similar to these came to me a little over a year and a half ago.

    A choice such as this was brought to me around the middle of last summer. A cool summer night, about midnight, out with my friends. We had gone to hit golf balls off the top of a hill at the local park… sort of a tradition between my friends and I. Before we had really even started, a car full of guys rolls up and outlined forms pile out of the car and immediately start walking towards us. As they approached I could sense something was wrong. The closer they came the more a voice in my head was screaming, “get your stuff, get your friends and get out.” But I didn’t listen. I take a closer look at the shadowy forms moving towards us and take a count. Nine of them, and five of us. The voice in my head gets louder, but there is a part of me inside saying "everyone is good, nothing bad will happen to me." That voice got the better of me, and I trusted these shadowy forms walking towards me to not do anything to harm me. The nine guys, are within seven feet of my friends and I now, their group sort of circles around us and they ask some irrelevent questions that I know have no relevance towards their true intentions. The voice in my head is screaming now... “Do something before they do, don’t let them get the jump on you.”. Still inside of me, I thought nothing bad was going to happen, I thought these guys would just go away. Sure enough before I could react one of them hit my friend and the situation deteriorated quickly from there. Somehow my friends and I got out without anyone getting hurt too badly. A trip to the hospital took care of some stitches and a couple concussions

The effect of this encounter on my conscious and my spirit was far worse than its effect on my body. Thoughts of how I could have done better tortured me for the next couple months. How could I have helped my friends, so that they didn’t have to get stitches in their faces, and so they didn’t have to get cat scans to make sure their brain was still intact. I was so disappointed with myself.

Prior to this incident I had trained with the Dayton Jinenkan for about a year and a half. Then, due to personal reasons, I had to discontinue training and get my life together. This fateful night occurred after I had been out of training for a considerable amount of time. So I was faced with a choice. Do I let this happen again? Do I let people take advantage of me and my friends? Or… do I want to be the stronger person? Do I want to make a difference when it comes to the safety of myself and those people I hold close to my heart? It took me a few months of digesting my thoughts, but the choice was clear. I made the decision to come back to training because never again will I let something like this happen. If anyone threatens someone, or something I care for, I will be the first to step up and put and end to it. If anyone is to do anything bad to someone, or something I care for, it will be because I can no longer fight them.  I am glad this is the path I have chosen, it will do nothing but make me a stronger person, and a stronger pillar for those I care for to rest upon. I now intend to train until my muscles will no longer move my bones. The lessons I learn through training are slowly but surely weaving themselves into the fabric of my existence and becoming part of who I am, making me more confident. That I can do anything I want to do, and making me stronger to stand against the things I find to be wrong. This is the path I have chosen, and this is the path I will walk.