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  • Writer's pictureMatt Powell

The Spoiler loves Craig David!

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Ignore the pressure to conform

I went to a fantastic Primary School. It was a lovely environment with a great mix of teachers. We had a firm-but-fair Deputy Head and a Matriarch Headmistress. The school had lovely grounds and we spent many happy times on the field in the summer playing.

One week our supply Teacher Mrs Edwards let us play Rounders all day every day for a week! I think sunburn cannot have existed in the 1980’s because we certainly didn’t wear any sun-cream at school, and we were in the sun for five days straight. Oh well, thinking about it I also went to Windsor Safari park in the boot of a Volvo estate once, us 80’s kids were rock and roll!

Senior school by contrast was a big shock. As a year 7 (we were the first year with the new year classification) I felt like a child in an Adult world. I looked like Harry Potter before he even existed or was considered cool and some of the year 11’s we’re as tall and wide as my Dad. They were 16 but looked like men to me. It was all very intimidating.

To make matters worse, being at Secondary School broke up my friend group. There were four of us that hung around together on our bikes like the Goonies and spent the summer camping in Mark’s Mum and Dad’s Garden.

Of the four of us Mark was the real character. We all had mountain bikes while he rode a racer dressed as Sherlock Holmes and buried his Star-Wars toys in the garden to simulate a rocket crash (his parents were furious).

At Primary school we regularly had talent shows and I would bust out a clumsy kata or two. Mark would play ‘My Grandfathers Clock’ on the guitar. These were early days for him as a musician and whenever he struck the wrong note he would start again from the beginning and every show it would be the same. We all desperately wanted him to nail it!

Tutor groups were the order of the day at our new school and sadly being in different classes we drifted apart. I really despise peer pressure and the genesis of this is from these days.

At My new school the most important quality a boy could possess was ability on the football pitch. I have always been extremely short-sighted and despite my best efforts there was no place in the football team for Harry Potter in Aviator glasses.

Secondly branded clothes and trainers were a real big deal. My Nicks from the Shoe Shop in the precinct were not as cool as the Nike Airs many desired and I was desperate to fit in and be considered cool! I raided my savings and bought some Reebok Pumps myself and then faked an injury so that I could get a note from my Mum to allow me to wear them at school. Unfortunately, I learnt that shallow adolescents are more likely to be jealous than impressed.

Quite frankly I was really lost, and my confidence was low. Karate did not seem to help me deal with my demons at that time and so I lost my way for a few years and took a break. Instead I focused on my school-work and committed to developing my illustration skills as my outlet.

After a 7-year break, I went back to the dojo in the January of the year 2000. As a young Adult I had grown in confidence and now in a karate suit I found my vehicle for Self Esteem. Within 12 months I had a place in the SEKU squad, and I began to develop some of the best friendships I could wish for and shared some fantastic experiences.

When we used to go away and compete my favourite event was the 5-man team Kumite (Fighting) matches. From my experience there are few better bonding experiences than standing on the line and going out to fight with and for your friends. For many year’s our team was formidable, and we won many tournaments. What was extra special is that no two of us were the same or fought similarly. We were all individuals with different styles and strengths. Our team had personality!

One of our team however was the most unique. We were in our 20’s and 30’s while he was in his 50’s and was already a Grandad. He had been training longer than most of us had been alive and was/is a well-known doorman (Bouncer would probably be his preferred term as that is what they use in his favourite movie Roadhouse).

Although our Senior was an extremely tough character, he was also one of the lads and loved training with us and simply getting stuck in. His fighting style was fundamentally different, and he always became a crowd favourite. Once we were abroad (I forget where) and a dynamic young fighter had been exhibiting class and disposing of people easily all day. When it came to the team event he just didn’t know how to deal with our Bouncer and his laid-back style. Our team-mate slipped punches and won convincingly through his appreciation of timing and distance. We nicknamed him ‘Spoiler’ that day and the name really stuck.

Over the years Dave Galloway and I grew close with Spoiler. We would pick him up early for our squad training road trips or competitions at 6am and then learn that he had been working the doors till 4am. He would get in the back of the driver’s car with his pillow, promptly fall asleep and we would wake him up for a breakfast or when we arrived at our venue. He would then grunt and snort and get himself moving, train or compete and then go back to sleep in the car and then back to work on the doors when we dropped him off. To me he is a modern-day Samurai. He is an absolute one-off and I love being around him.

During these trip’s, most of us had embraced I-Pods but Spoiler had a CD Walkman and he would listen to it all the time. We all thought he must be listening to 70’s Rock. Maybe some Deep Purple or even a bit of Sabbath? One day I asked him what he was listening to. It turned out his psyche up music was either Craig David or Shania Twain. He religiously listened to these CD’s and particularly loved Craig David!

When I think of genuine individuals I think of Spoiler. He doesn’t try to conform or be anything other than himself. No one else fights like him and no one else I know lives like him. He is unique and no amount of pressure of any type would make him change his fighting style or personality or choice of CD. What a great example!

I wish I had known him as a teenager. I like to think his example would have given me the courage to be myself a little sooner and I often talk about him when I teach youngsters.

As for my friend from Primary School. Mark is now a professional Blues musician and is a highly regarded lead guitarist. I even heard rumours that he is an in-demand session musician. I really hope it’s true.

In karate and life, I hope we all have the courage to express ourselves authentically and not conform to others bias on how we should operate.

If you see a youngster clearly losing confidence and feeling less sure of themselves, please take the time to reassure them that being themselves is truly important.

Let us encourage Authenticity over Conformity.

…….. (oh man now I am singing 7 Days in my head… sigh) Craig David all over your…. Boink!

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