Mine to keep

Hi. It´s good to catch up with you a couple of days before 2023 lands. I hope you have had a good Christmas and like me your gearing up for new years eve! 2022 has most certainly been eventful but it´s also been a very strong year for me as a community activist, martial artist and of course public speaker.

As the current year draws to a close it´s as always a time for reflection however I´m not sitting in the new year new me camp. I don´t do that as a rule of thumb but I do set my intention and think about my goals. Just before I headed out to Spain to spend quality time in the sun with my mum (today is my last day before travelling home to Bristol tomorrow) for the holidays I was on the sharp end of a serious violence incident on my estate in St Anne´s Bristol.

The youth I ran into on my usual cycle route back to my flat were armed with machetes. They stole my mountain bike (now replaced with the same model, thanks to my lovely mum) and mobile phone (also replaced with the same one thanks 02) having been in my fair share of altercations over the course of my life it was the first time anyone has ever been cowardly enough to pull a blade or blades on me. It caught me off guard. My on switch was off. Your world changes when a machete is against your throat. When a handle is rammed into your eye.

My world became unreal. The punch that came before the handle just like in the ring was a thud with no pain. If it had not been for my friend walking her dog who saw what was happening and ran over when I yelled for help I´m reasonably sure it would of been the end of me. I thought my life was going to be cut short over a four hundred pound mountain bike behind a Coop less than fifteen minutes from my home.

When faced with my own mortality for the second time in my life just like before I have said thanks to whatever watches my back. I have been round a few corners. They were journeys I never wanted to make. I will be fine. Trauma is something I soak up like a sponge and these days I know how to navigate it. Besides, I have my people. Friends old and new have been amazing.

I have never been alone to assume I am is a falsehood. It´s something cowards and bullies tell each other to feel safer about guys like me. Kindness is not a weakness. It is a sign of emotional intelligence. Gentle as a lamb fierce as a lion is the order of the day. That´s the Muay Thai way.

Right now I´m happy that my eye is healing so well. I´m still that handsome boy from modelling school. I´m happy to have received so many lovely messages and wishes of fast healing and good health from friends and family. I´m happy I´m here. I´m happy I´m alive. Although I have very little trust in the police it is good to see how seriously the incident was taken. The community was and is amazing. Bristol is like that. My gym of course showed the same amount of solidarity and kindness. Thank you Dave for reminding me to stay sharp.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post about a fair share of altercations over the years. This is a truth but so is the fact I was bullied before I took up martial arts. I was beaten up before I learned how to really give it back and at points did. I was that kid people thought they could shove around. When I started training the bullies crossed the road when they saw me coming.

It is about the aura we project and the confidence and awareness is self evident when you train but the fear I encountered recently and have always run into is very real. Over time I have learned to make it my friend. It took me a long time to learn how to fight in the ring. I still have a lot to learn but I´m a tough kid. If that frightens you or make you angry I´ll let you navigate that shit on your own. Fear is a mind killer and when those blades appeared I froze. Then I tried to run. “Lads just take the bike” is mine to keep forever.

I´d like to say I´m not vulnerable but I am. I´d like to say a much younger John is not present but he is. He needs me right now so I´ll take him down the gym next week and show him something. I´ll show him something good and that is beautiful and is my art. Always there when I need it the most. It saved me once and it never leaves. It´s mine to keep forever. Have a great new year and train hard and just like the last time… I´ll see you on that road.


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