I grew up in a small farming community in Thailand, as a child I use to envy the children whose parents didn’t have farms as they didn’t have to work on them. It was a long way from our house to the rice fields so our family would often sleep under a shelter by the fields, working all day in the hot sun for days before walking home. This was hard as a child but as I got older I realized I was in fact the lucky one, the land gave us security and opportunities the other children didn’t have. Living without electricity, cars, motorbikes and a lot of the things we now take for granted was never easy but it leaves you knowing that you can be happy without these things. It teaches you to be happy with what you have, no matter what that is.
Living in a small community where everyone helps each other taught me to value the people around you and the relationships you have with them above all else. This was also one of the core values that comes from the traditional Buddhist teachings we all follow in Thailand. Although people worked hard and had very little, they were happy, enjoying each day, coming together to eat, relax and share what they had. I grew up in a place where life was an adventure, playing in the fields, swimming in the dams and always with friends and family. Trying to enjoy what ever it may be we are doing, having fun, ‘sanook’ is what we say in Thai, this is one of the guiding principles I learnt to live by. Above all else we should enjoy what we are doing in each moment, but equally importantly help those around us to be happy and have fun as well.
When everyone is trying to make life better, more fun and less stressful for those around them then everyone is better off. This is also how I found Shiryodo Karate to work, the principle of compassion, considering how you can help those around you is very clear in how the dojo runs. This makes it a place I feel very comfortable with, we all work together to help each other and have fun. One of the most enjoyable aspects of going for my black belt has been how willing so many people have been to help me get ready.
Working on the farm was hard, so I chose to leave the farm to work as a masseuse. Sending most of the money I made back to my family who looked after my 2 boys. Staying on the farm there were not many opportunities for my life to change, moving to the city meant there were. One of those was meeting Shihan Malcolm. His philosophy was very similar to mine, a lot more Thai than a lot of westerners. We immediately got along amazingly well and after only knowing each other a week traveled to Cambodia together. Getting to know each other as we traveled around a country neither of us had ever visited or spoke the language was great. We learned a lot about each other very quickly, happily they were all good things. That was the start of an adventure that has never ended. 7 years later he is still finding places for us to go, I find myself on a deserted beach, with him still climbing something and me still worried he will fall, though he never does.
Together we share the adventure. But it’s also an adventure that a lot of those at the dojo share with us at different times, doing training camps, travelling overseas and all the exciting events that we have at the dojo. Having challenges and opportunities to experience different places and people makes life interesting and exciting, the same reasons I left the farm for the city are the reasons that doing Shiryodo is something I love.
In Thailand everyone loves Muay Thai, it’s the national sport, my father was a Thai fighter when he was young, so I had an appreciation of the fighting arts long before I started Karate. I loved doing Shiryodo karate right from the start. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly as well as what we were doing being a lot of fun. Not being able to speak a lot of English really didn’t matter that much I could watch and follow what everyone was doing around me. When I first came to Australia this gave me an easy way to connect with people.
For a long time I was only in Australia a few months at a time due to not having a permanent visa, this meant there was a lot of breaks in my training. This was frustrating at times but it was always reassuring to have people willing to help me and show me things if I wasn’t sure. Everyone at Shiryodo supports each other and works together, it is a community were everyone being happy is important, I like that, it’s what I was use to in Thailand.
Doing Shiryodo helps me to keep fit but it’s always fun at the same time so never a chore. The dojo has lots of amazing events for everyone, with breaking seminars, tournaments, gradings, parties, movie making and many many more events. These are all a lot of fun and something I look forward to. Part of what I enjoy is taking the photo’s at all these events the dojo has. I know I love the memories that looking back at these pictures gives me and hope that the pictures I take capture some good memories for the people in them as well.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me not only over the last 6 months but all the years I have been training. It’s this help that has enabled me to be now going for my black belt. Look forward to more adventures and lot’s of fun with my karateka in the future.
Osu, Panadda Ayles.