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Thomas Clifford’s Martial Arts

Your Personal Best

Your Personal Best

Posted: November 05, 2019

Dear Friend, 

I trust this blog finds you well. 

Your interest in the Martial Arts is the reason you are reading this. 

Am I correct? 

Perhaps your son or daughter would like to train, and you are getting a feel for what we do. 

Training in a Dojo is a unique experience. 

Every Dojo is different, especially because of the one-of-a-kind synergy created by all of its members. 

People often ask, “What is the best Martial Art?”

That is a strange question for me. 

When people say the "best", they usually mean their "favorite."

I've been training for nearly 40 years, and I still don't have a favorite Martial Art. 

You may want to consider participating in a method of training or style of Martial Arts that benefits you at the deepest and highest level. 

Personally, I have always gravitated toward instructors who are physically skilled and mentally adept. 

There is value in the ability to string a few words together in a coherent sentence. 

My first instructor, Master R. Prett, was highly skilled physically and extraordinarily brilliant intellectually. 

My decision to become a professional Martial Arts instructor was entirely the result of his influence. 

Here is an example of his teaching...

It was right after school on a Monday in December of '82, and a heavy storm was starting to build up. 

There was about 5 inches of snow on the ground, but we knew there would be a class. 

Our instructor never cancelled class, ever. 

As Karen Marsilio - Master Prett’s top student, and I rounded the corner of Railroad Avenue, and walked toward the Hibernian House, we saw Master Prett shoveling the parking lot. 

He didn't own a car. 

It certainly wasn't his "job" to clear the lot. 

He just did it. 

I asked, "Do you need any help?" 

He said, "No, thank you. I don't need any help."

Karen asked, "Do you want help?" 

Master Prett replied, "No, thank you. I don't want help."

He hadn't unlocked the door yet, so we stood there like two imbeciles, shivering in the cold. 

Master Prett, with his distinguished grin said, "How inconsiderate of me.”

Without hesitation, he unlocked and opened the door. 

Then he picked up our bags of gear, and carried them up the stairs. 

The place was a total mess from what appeared to be a long weekend of parties and celebrations. 

Master Prett grabbed a broom and started sweeping.

He didn't make an announcement, he just took action. 

Karen and I looked at each other, and hurriedly began to pick up garbage.

We realized that being helpful doesn't require an invitation or permission.  

Everyone is receptive and appreciative of sincere assistance.

Within 45 minutes we had the place looking like new. 

He asked, “How do you think everyone will feel when they see how clean it is?” 

We looked at him and shrugged our shoulders.

Master Prett refined his question, “Do you think they will appreciate it?”

“Probably”, I said.

Then he asked, “Do you appreciate it?” 

We both looked at each other and smiled.

We said, “Definitely!” 

That is when we were both accepted as Master Prett's apprentices.

I remember thinking that it was going to be a very long and difficult experience. 

We blinked, and it was over. 

Or was it? 

I look forward to seeing you and your family in class at the Dojo. 

Respectfully,

Kyoshi Thomas Clifford 


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