In celebration of running the Edmonton based Wise Warrior Gym for over 20 years head coach and Master-Instructor Calen Paine shares with us the story of his formative years before begining formal martial arts instruction.
The Early Years
Although for the most part I had a good and healthy childhood, I was the slightly skinny, smaller child amongst my peers. I grew up feeling less physically capable and confident. My good nature and personality ensured that I had many friends, but most of my friends were bigger or stronger than me. I discovered martial art advertisements in the comic books and magazines. Examine any comic book published before 1985. “Gain Power in 10 Weeks with Karate”. I was drawn in and inspired.
Back then, there were no martial art training videos. Very few books of martial arts were available and the few that were out were not very good. Although inspiring all of this was not much to draw from. Around that time, my mom enrolls me in Judo classes and I train for a few months.
I easily recall my key seed experiences. Some of you older folk may remember them or were also inspired by them!
Billy Jack. My age: 12 years old. My mother takes me to the Billy Jack movie. The character sets the stage for my first "sage-warrior hero" role model. It also plants the seed of the idea of running a centre to help and train people. My age: 12 years old.
Kung Fu Movies. I visit my cousins in Winnipeg, Manitoba every summer. This year, my cousins Ziggy and Wayne take me to two kung fu movies.
5 Fingers of Death Chinese wu-shu movie classic.
And, of course the master himself... Bruce Lee’s “Chinese Connection”. Damn, I’m hooked.
On top of that my cousins are training in Tae Kwon Do and they train me for several weeks.
Kung Fu TV series. (1972-1975) The character Kwai Chang Caine A.K.A. Grasshopper (portrayed by David Carridine) further nurtures the interest in martial arts within my mind. Caine again represents the sage-warrior ideal that I am drawn towards.
Around this same time, I discover a couple of early pioneer personal development books in my home that my dad owned:
The Magic of Thinking Big and a couple others. This plants another seed of personal development and personal advancement. Learn, grow and advance oneself.
I begin to borrow or make up sayings to live by such as:
“No other enlightenment outside yourself. Seek knowledge, seek skill.”
“Never give up, there’s always a way.”
“Life is like that.”
These are the key experiences that showed the path for me to start my personal development and martial arts journey. At this time I continue training with little to no formal instructor assistance available but still forge ahead, not really knowing for certain of what I’m doing, but with enthusiasm and passion for the journey.
So ends part one of W.O.W. Wise Old Warrior and my journey. I am truly grateful for these seed experiences that sprouted, grew and be then were cultivated into the 20 Year Celebration of training, instructing and learning. The journey has been good!