Then we got news that we couldn't have expected.
My neighbor, Darrin, died in an accident while whitewater rafting. From what I'm told he and others fell out of the raft, and he got caught underneath somehow. The news hit the neighborhood very hard. Monday night after getting home I went over to visit with the neighbors, and there was laughing, crying, drinking, more crying, more laughing, and more drinking.
I've mentioned the NWA (Neighborhood Watch Association) before and our fun adventures and misadventures. The neighborhood is a lively place. Darrin was the heart of the group. Everybody loved him. He was the guy behind the bar serving the drinks at every party. He was the first guy to come over when you needed help. He was funny, kind, and soft spoken.
My main bonding with him was through martial arts. He was one of those crazy dudes that punches trees and rocks. His techniques were amazing. His knowledge of pressure point strikes allowed him to knock guys out even by hitting them on their arms. That's probably the main thing that really bugs me. He had all this amazing knowledge, and never got to pass a lot of it on.
He did show us quite a few things though, especially when he visited my dojo. He was always humble and respectful in there, even though head on I wouldn't have a prayer against him. He'd put guys all over the room with complete control always doing just enough to get the techniques to work, without being abusive about it. It didn't matter how big and strong my guys were, he'd have them on their knees in the blink of an eye. A lot of my students were curious about his techniques. One memorable moment was when one of the black belts, Kim, was asking about Naihanchin Sho-dan, particularly the moves in his version that weren't in ours.
"Well, these moves here are tearing up the opponent's arm."
"Show me." And she held her arm out.
"No. You really don't want me to."
"Come on! It'll be fine." She shook her arm as it she was baiting an animal. "Show me."
Darrin looked at me. I shrugged.
"She asked for it."
Fuwackity! He didn't hit her hard, but he hit her arms just right so that the yelp of pain was easily heard throughout the zip code. I've never seen Kim move that fast ever as she practically jumped across the room. He felt kinda bad after that, but she was fine.
This isn't to say that Darrin didn't have his moments when he could be scary as hell. Once some punk tried to bust into the NWA HQ, that being the gazebo we all hang out in. Well, John caught the weasel, and the police put him in the back of the squad car ready to take him away. Of course the punk was being a mouthy little prick about the whole thing. Then Darrin came out.
About 6'4" of a big tattooed, shirtless Irishman. At the time he had the ponytail. He walks over to the squad car, and wipes the window to take a good look at the punk. The twerp was still pretty defiant, but was a bit intimidated.
"How much is his bail?"
"What?" The Officer asked.
"Tell you what. I'll give you $400, and you turn him over to me. You'll never have to worry about him again."
At this point the punk was yelling from the back seat, "TAKE ME TO JAIL!"
You see, Darrin didn't like having the peace and quiet of the neighborhood disturbed, unless it involved pretty girls and/or beer. Like two Easters ago, when the house right by our little court caught fire. Black smoke billowed over the trees. The sirens from the fire engines were easily heard. We all got up on a deck and watched it. Darrin comes out of his house.
"What the hell's going on out here?"
"House over there is on fire."
"I'm in here tryin' to meditate! Tell them to keep it down!"
And he went back inside.
So, as you can probably tell, he was quite a character. This is indeed a very emotional time for the entire neighborhood. We're all going to miss him. I know he respected me as a sensei and that means a lot to me. It makes me want to be a better sensei to really deserve that respect.
Good-bye to a good and honorable man that I was glad to call my friend and neighbor.
Friend of mine turned me onto this tune. Apparently it was in that Scott Pilgrim movie that I couldn't be arsed with. I do dig the song though.
That's it for me. See you guys Friday.