Alrighty... this is probably the part that sticks with me the most. Everything up to this point is a basic blur in my life I would say, with the finale coming after this all went down. The worse was yet to come, and of course a part of me knew that when I left the St Dennis Center that night, but another part hoped for a quick and painless end to this tragedy.
Now I know in the last post I made it sound like everything ended on that night in September, which isn't quite true, in some respects it just started there, but that was the thing that killed everything about Judo that I had loved.
I can remember going home that night and sitting in bed wondering what would happen to Chester. I know at least one person has posted that I shouldn't worry so much about this as Jeff and Chester were both adults, but I can't feel in some way that this was my fault as well. Deep down, on some level. Yeah I wasn't trained in the possible outcomes of legalities, I also never was given direction from the St Dennis Center staff who, like I have stated previously, routinely let people use the Multi Purpose room for all kinds of activities.
I mean if I had kicked them out of the room sure someone could have gotten the key, but they might not. It's this kind of thing that eats at you after the fact. I've gone through everything I could have done, much like that episode of 21 Jump Street Where Johnny Depp's character goes through the same thing. I can pretty much surmise anytime something like this has happened to anyone they pretty much do the same thing. In the end I can't really see myself at fault a huge amount even though I feel that I am a bit.
Now, after all that soul searching, life went back to normal. Well I guess sort of normal as I had interviews with Private Investigators from both sides of the coming lawsuit (the University and Chester) rehashing what I did in those moments. I even received a copy of my statement that I gave to the University guy with instructions to go over it before I went to trial, if it did indeed go to trial.
The club continued, Jeff and his friend were put on a permanent ban, after seriously injuring 2 students I wasn't about to let either of them back through the door. I found out through the grapevine that Jeff friend was a little upset about this and wanted to actually kick my ass if he ever saw me, and I guess it's a good thing I never saw him. Jason and Jonathan continued to go to tournaments and continued to go undefeated; I attended some mixed martial arts tournaments in Toronto, and one special tournament over in Michigan.
I'm going to take a quick side trip here to talk about this tournament in Michigan for a second. This has nothing to do with the lawsuit or anything, actually if the lawyers had known about it the result probably would have been a lot worse. The tournament was one I had gone to several times, it was sponsored by a 6th Dan (6th Degree Black Belt) Sensei Saito. Sensei Saito was very old school Japanese and an amazing teacher, to cap it off he was a very good guy as well. I had been at his tournament 2 times before with mixed results, and made sure I didn't miss it.
At this point I was no longer affiliated with Kayahara as a main club, although I knew that they would be there. I had no idea that I had crossed some invisible line at this point with them, but here was where I got my first taste. When I showed up at the tournament I was told that I could not participate because my Sensei had not signed the permission form, standard enough practice to make sure people don't compete in belt categories they really are not in. Lo and Behold the Kayahara crew shows up just behind me, I was talking with a couple people about what was going on, and one of them suggest that I talk to Sensei Bryce and a signature on my form.
Sensei Bryce was very hesitant to sign the release, stating that I was no longer part of the Kayahara club to which I replied, Sensei I never truly left Kayahara, my book might say University of Windsor Judo Club, but I'll always be a competitor and student of Kayahara. Begrudgingly Sensei Bryce signed the form so that I could compete. At the time I didn't put two and two together to realize what had just happened.
Being 19 years old, and a little mixed up in the ways of the world I had always assumed that I was going to be a part of the Kayahara judo club no matter where I was training or teaching. I see now that this was a bit of a chess game between Sensei Hammel, and Sensei Mike from Kayahara. Sensei Hammel had always been trying to get Kayahara to share their money with other local clubs in the spirit of "judo" and friendly competition, and I guess I fell in there in that way. I could have taught at the university without getting my Brown Belt, I could have taught at the university without officially leaving my home Judo Club, no one told me this and it didn't occur to me to think otherwise. I can see now what I did and how it upset people, but at the time things were a lot different and I couldn't see how they were that upset with me since I was still in my heart a Kayahara student. Hell I didn't even care so much about getting my brown belt, I mean it was a thrill and all, but the real reason I got it was because Sensei Hammel wanted me too.
I need to do quick explanation of what I knew at the time and what I know now as well. At the time it was explained to me that if a black belt was not available to teach a class, and there weren't any others available, a non backbeat could be sponsored to run a school and teach a class. This is normal, but the wording to which it was put to me led me to believe that everything was fine. In all actuality the rule is something more to the lines of "If there isn't' a single other black belt in the area capable of teaching". So I guess in this light my school was running outside the regular rules without my knowledge, in fact Sensei Hammel was still in charge of the club even though I was running the day to day.
Anyways back to the tournament and the real reason I included it in this post. I think it was my second match, and this is a lesson that everyone needs to learn, that I broke someone's arm. In Judo like I said you can win by throw, Tapping someone out from an arm bar, pinning them to the mat, or tapping them out with a choke. I've always fancied myself a bit of a submission fighter, feeling more relaxed and fluid on the ground then anywhere else, and I fought this match with that in mind. At one point I remember going for a choke and the guy actually throwing me to the ground with his hand fisted in my throat. I shook it off, must have been jazzed on adrenaline because I didn't even feel it. When we came in at each other again I took him down for a koka (a point that really doesn't mean much of anything in most Judo Matches), but it put him into my realm, the mat. Still not sure exactly how but I ended up with a Straight Arm Arm bar. Now it's a commonly known rule in Judo that if you pick your opponent up off the mat any hold has to be let go, so picture this I'm slowly applying pressure to his elbow in the wrong direction, and he's fighting it off as long as he can. This puts some serious strain on the arm, but I knew right away what he was trying to do, so I beat him to the punch. Much like Royce Gracie in UFC 2, I stood my body up onto my shoulders and head, extending my body up his arm before he could lift me. This had two effects, the first being that I bought myself a couple of seconds before he could pick me up, and the second, which negated the first by the way, a very disgusting crunching sensation from the arm I was holding.
Feeling this I didn't even wait for the ref to call the match or the opponent to tap, I rolled off him as quick as I could, standing and walked back to my line. I still don't know what happened behind me, if the ref checked on the guy or the guy tapped or what, but before I made it to the line the ref had declared the match over and me the winner. When I turned back I bowed to my opponent and noticed that he was holding his arm closely to his stomach. I could hear people in the balcony asking what had happened, and a couple figuring that I had in fact broke this guy's arm.
I truly don't feel bad about this at all. Truthfully I caused this injury, and I understand that, but at anytime this guy could have just as easily tapped out and I would have released the pressure on his arm. In fact I was always of the opinion that unless it was the Olympics, sitting in an arm bar was useless and stupid, if it's sunk in tap, it's that easy.
I met up with this guy off the mat and apologized to him about his arm to which I received a "Fuck you dickhead" for my trouble.
Alright now back to the main storyline of things. Like I was saying before the club stayed open after this event, in fact I ran the club for another 6 months before everything fell apart, but it didn't take long for me to know it was coming. Within days I was told by Sensei Hammel that the University Of Windsor Judo Club wasn't even an actual legally registered judo club. This is HUGE, remember I told you about all the crap I've gone through over the years from Kayahara about leaving them, and I find out that I left them for a club that didn't exist and would not help me get to my black belt at all.
Here's where I hit my next bump in the road. My Judo License ran from august to august if I'm not mistaken, and it was time to renew my license so I could continue practicing Judo. Throughout this whole ordeal I had been in contact with then president of Judo Ontario Joe Lestrange, and he told me that if I submitted the documentation to re-register the Judo club under Sensei Hammel that everything would be fine. As well I mentioned that I would be sending my own personal registration in too and would be paying for it all with one check. Sending this information and the check off I figured everything would be fine and forgot about it.
Shortly thereafter I got back in touch with Kayahara. I was told by the people at Kayahara that the lawyers/PI people had been to the club to find out about my past and that they refused to have absolutely anything to do with me, etching, practicing, or sponsoring because they were afraid of being drawn into this lawsuit which had absolutely nothing to do with them.
That hurt more then I think I've ever let myself believe. Remember like I said I wanted to be at the Olympics someday, Coach, Ref, Competitor, whatever and I saw myself doing it in Judo cause I loved the sport so much. I had been given a couple months by Judo Ontario to get a black belt sponsor to step forward, and my home club not only said no we wont sponsor you, but also, don't ever come here again we can't afford to be drawn into your lawsuit. Not to mention that I had to call them about 30 times before I got a response from them.
Sensei Hammel died somewhere in here, can't remember exactly when, but he was dead before I got my reply back from Kayahara. I went to the one other place I could think of for a sponsor, a man named "Bill Thompson" whose son had been a bit of a Judo Prodigy and had also broken off from Kayahara to start their own Judo Club together. He wouldn't touch the sponsorship with a ten foot pole, but he would at least let me continue at his school.
This is when I got back to the school registration, and contacted Joe LeStrange about this, he told me that Sensei Hammel's signature would be good for the rest of the year even though he was dead, but that Judo Ontario was holding the registration until the investigating was done to make sure that the club was safe. I let Joe know that the club was in fact still running, which he said was perfectly fine, and then further inquired about my own personal Judo License, I don't think I ever got a straight answer from Joe about it.
Early the next year (remember by this point were into 1998) I received a letter from Judo Ontario stating that since I had never renewed my membership, nor the schools membership that I needed to stop practicing and teaching Judo
Alright another cut off everytime I think this is over it just drags on and on more to come