Last Friday I flew to Barcelona and was greeted by my good friend Master Ricardo Gress. I had made the journey to attend Mugendo’s 3rd Annual Dinner Gala at which I was to be honoured.
I was also privileged to attend the Instructors’ dinner the evening before, where we ate paella, drank good Spanish wines and chatted about our shared passion – Martial Arts.
Everyone was in good spirits and looking forward to the annual gala because as well as the honour that was to be bestowed on me, there were over four hundred students, parents and children, many of whom were to receive awards not just for Martial Arts but also for courageous acts that were ignited and supported by their disciplined training at Mugendo.
Just to give you a little background to our association, I met Master Ricardo Gress many years ago, in a land far away. Actually, it was in Venice, Italy at the WAKO World Championships.
At that time, I was teaching Mugendo under Master Meiji Suzuki and with other great instructors such as Sensei Dwyer Evelyn, George Mckenzie, Keith Wilson, Chris McNeish, George Norville, Joe Williams, Desmond Burke, Peter Tillman, Martin Wilkinson, Denise Bailey and David Burridge – my apologies if I have missed anyone!
It was very much like the Star Wars films and in many ways similar to Luke Skywalker and Obi-One Kenobi..Only this was reality and not a film!
After the tournament, Master Ricardo approached me to ask if the British team would compete against the Spanish in Barcelona. That is when and where our journey began. He asked me to coach him and I began making regular trips to Barcelona to coach him and his young team. From a small acorn, mighty oaks grow!
They were long and hard training sessions with many tears of joy and pain.
As I have said, I was fortunate enough to be taught by a great coach who revolutionised the Martial Arts world and it was my duty to pass on his training methods to my students, one of which was Richardo Gress, my student, who was to become a Master himself and of course a lifelong friend.
Over the last 20 years I have seen the growth of his association, WAMAI and his Martial Arts system, Mugendo. He has built an empire – creating 40 Mugendo clubs spanning across Spain. He has done an incredible job, making it into the great organisation it is today.
It was a great event, hosted by a great organisation.
-DAI MASTER RAFAEL NIETO-