My Arakan Martial Art Journey

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Writing this, feels like a lot of Arakan lessons I teach. I always think to myself, "I have an hour to share as much as possible in an art that could easily go for a few lifetimes, yet I don't want to dilute anything". I guess that is one of the reasons why we are taught to always have urgency with what we do; there is so much to learn, so don't stuff around and make the most of the time that you have.

When I was growing up it was really only my mum, my sister and I as a family unit. It’s one of those stories where mum sacrificed a lot to make things work for us kids. I only realise this now that I am a dad and can only imagine how hard it was for her as a 20 year old single mother. We lived in Sydney originally where we had a mix of experiences; from times living in the Eastern Suburbs to living in houses with bars on the windows so it prevented others in the neighbourhood from breaking in, however they would still jump the fence reach through the bars and grab what they could. Looking back on it, I had a lot of fun as a kid, running around dressed like a ninja, swinging broomstick handles around.

In 1997 we relocated to the Gold Coast and this was when I was able to really get in touch with how much I loved sports and physical activity. The Gold Coast is the best for living an active lifestyle and I enjoyed it from day one. Playing representative soccer, cricket, rugby and bodyboarding. This passion for being outside and using my body led me to pursue Exercise Science at University. This was challenging for me because at school I realised that I was motivated by the social friendships and the fun that came with it. I never really learnt how to apply myself properly until Rob and Arakan taught me how to learn.

My first introduction to Arakan was in 2003 when I was dropping a friend off to his private lesson at Pizzey Park. I was intrigued because I could see the benefits he was getting out of training physically and also personally. I was into boxing at the time and thought that was how to fight, I tried other Martial Arts but nothing could really hold me. I liked the boxing because it was hard work and the contact was great. At the end of my friends lesson I met the instructor and he offered me a complimentary lesson on the spot, I said yes and got a big surprise! I literally walked away thinking these Arakan guys are crazy and they could take over the country with this skill. It blew my mind and I was hooked from day one. I got another friend involved and our training started off as a shared lesson. Within six months I was training five or six times a week, regularly calling the office asking if an instructor was available that day to teach me.

By the end of 2003 I knew that I wanted to make Arakan my career but I didn't know if I had what it took to make my dream a reality. I still remember my first meeting with Rob and he gave me the belief I needed at that time to trust that I could make it work. I quit University and consciously put my time, money and energy into developing myself as an Arakan practitioner. Most parents would have flipped out, giving up University to become a Martial Art instructor. I was lucky in this sense as mum always encouraged me to do what "felt" right. At this time no one would give me a full time position so I just got 3 casual jobs to make it work.

I still remember getting invited to my first training day, I was so pumped to be invited. On my lunch break at work I remember Rob personally calling me, again giving me the belief in myself that I was ready to attend the "Dawn to Dusk" training day. I couldn’t get the money together quick enough so Rob was kind enough to let me pay it off. That is something a lot of people don’t know about Rob and the club; how much is given. If it was added up I am sure it would be valued at many thousands worth, every week.

I remember we were doing this drill which was crazy to me at the time, there was dirt flying everywhere from the intense footwork, I couldn’t see clearly four metres in front of me. After one round there were some cuts and ripped shirts and I looked over and my instructor who had dislocated his shoulder. I hadn’t been put in yet and I remember Rob checking to see if we had all had our turn, I just shut my mouth and moved onto the next part of the day. Still to this day I wish I had got in there, and when I see students today nervous about something in training I can understand how they feel.
I finally reached my dream after going through the selection process and having some setbacks. I remember running late for a meeting with Christina (Robs wife) because I slept in, Rob told me that if I wasn't serious about this he didn't want me on the team and I should rethink things. This was a defining moment for me because it really made me step up my game and prioritise what is important to me. Thank you Rob.

Over the time of being an instructor it has surpassed what my expectations were and what I was going to achieve in life by a million percent. A big part that I didn't expect or realise is the close connection between the team, especially the green belt guys who I get to train with every week. I have always been close with the guys and we have a long history together. Now we all have young children and I hope that they can share in the connection we have. Thanks, Richard, Josh G, Scott M and Nath.

I thank Arakan for allowing me to grow into the person that could attract the woman of my dreams in Bianca. I couldn't ask for a better partner of life and a mother of our daughter Isabel. Not only does Bianca support me in what I do, but also is involved in the club and loves training just as much as I do. Bianca is the backbone to everything I do and always motivates me to do the best I can, thank you.

These days, my week consists of training six times a week, spending Monday to Wednesday in Sydney as we build down there, a couple of meetings a week, teaching lots of amazing people and spending time with family and friends.

I sit here, as the plane just landed from Sydney arriving back on the Gold Coast very grateful for the life I have. I remember hearing Robin Sharma say that in his belief two things that matter that most when we lay on our deathbed are:

1) Have you become the person you always wanted to be?
2) Were you an instrument of service to as many people as possible?

To me, being an Arakan instructor is my vehicle to answer those questions proudly later in life.

I was at the bus stop down from my house waiting to go to the gym, when a car pulled up. A guy jumped out of the car and told me to leave my ex girlfriend alone (I had been asking her to see my son). I told him to go away and stop bothering me but I knew that when he mentioned my ex there was going to be trouble so at that stage I got myself ready for anything. He then threw a right hook punch which I saw coming so I bridged it, stepping in at the same time with the right elbow then stepping back with the hammer. I tried to link it with a palm strike but I missed because I had already knocked him out with the hammer. I then got ready because there were more people in the car. They jumped out and began apologising to me saying not to hit them, and that they just wanted to get their friend so they grabbed him and drove off. After that I was excited about what I had done and how easy it was considering he was much bigger than me.

Paul Mills

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