How Tukido Changed My Life
Before joining Tukido I suffered with drug and alcohol problems. In June 2011 I was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. This, for me, was a wakeup call and it was at this time I realised that I had to change my life, deciding to focus on improving my fitness.
For a number of years, I had been regularly attending a workshop to deal with mechanical issues affecting my fishing boat. At that time, McLuskey’s was the workplace of Master Tonner, who, for many years had been encouraging me to come along and train with his martial arts club. In December 2011 I agreed to come along, although I was very nervous as I had never done anything like Tukido before. Even on my first night, I felt welcomed and part of the club, which was amazing. People were friendly and kind and from that very first night I loved it.
It still amazes me the confidence that Tukido has given me, confidence I did not know I had. The feeling I have after a hard training session gives me much more satisfaction than any substances ever could; made even better knowing that it is down to my hard work and effort. The very first time I wore my suit, I felt great and even to this day that feeling has not faded. I still find it difficult to describe how I felt after my first successful grading, the happiness after months of training, focusing on achieving my Yellow Tags, was so rewarding and it motivated me to improve and continue progressing through the different grades. Nevertheless, there have been disappointments throughout my time at Tukido… The first time I failed a grading, left me frustrated and quite upset. I had gone to Tukido camp and was grading for Blue Tags, which unfortunately, did not go as well as I wanted. As well as failing, I also injured myself, which meant that I was not able to train for some time, I could have honestly cried.
However, the support given to me by other members of the club, people who I am happy call my friends, as well as the direction and guidance I received from Master Tonner, soon meant that my frustration and upset was replaced by motivation and a determination to succeed in my next grading. I realised that by changing my approach to training and focusing on improving my technique, I could overcome the upset failing had caused me and turn it into something positive. Although my injury meant that the amount of training I could do was limited, it became clear that even small changes in the way I did my sparring form, resulted in improvements overall; recognised when I achieved Blue Tags.
Taking part in summer camp and competition is very important to me and despite injuring myself at camp; I still love it every time I go. In 2014 I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Malaysia with members of my club and those from clubs across Scotland. Before I became involved in Tukido, I would never dreamt of having the opportunity travel to Asia and experience different cultures and traditions and involvement in the trip is still a highlight of my life.
Although I have to admit to being very nervous the first time I took part in the Tukido Championships, it was worth it for the feeling of being awarded a silver medal for free sparring. Moreover, I was able to contribute to my club’s overall total, resulting in us winning the club Championship. I felt very satisfied and valued to be able to give something back to my club in return for all of the help they have given and continue to give me. More recently, I have been awarded the gold medal in the Fore Fist Punch category as well as bronze in the Red Belt Free Sparring division. Again, showing me that I can overcome my own anxieties and lack of confidence, through focus, determination and hard work.
Tukido has given me a mechanism to cope with life’s setbacks, most significantly, the passing of my father. In my life before Tukido, this tragic event would have caused me to turn to drugs and alcohol, but now I had the focus, discipline and self-respect, to face my sadness and more importantly, support my mother. My parents have been a constant source of support to me and I could see how happy it made them watching me succeed in Tukido and the new direction in which it had taken my life. My parents regularly came to watch me training and came along to competitions and gradings, so it meant the world to me that I was able to return this when supporting my mother during a very difficult time in our lives.
As well as the physical and mental ways in which Tukido has changed my life, it has also given me a network of new friends. They give me advice and backing when I am trying to develop a new skill or perfect my technique as well as taking time to help me with my sparring forms. I enjoy attending different social events, from fancy dress parties to Christmas nights, where I know that members of the club enjoy taking away my mother’s home baking! Perhaps my proudest moment in Tukido was being awarded the Irvine Club’s student of the year. I felt so elated knowing that it was my peers who had voted for me to be given the award.
I find it difficult to express how grateful I am to Master Tonner for everything he has done for me to allow me to change my life in a positive way, not only through training and Tukido but on a personal level too. Ultimately, thanks must go to Master Teh, for founding and developing Tukido in Scotland. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, especially those in achieving my Black Belt, knowing that I now have the confidence and the capabilities to deal with any obstacles that might get in my way. For me, Tukido has really been a new beginning.
Andrew Gibson, 1st Grade, Irvine Tukido Club