I stood in the big open hall of the old Olympia bioscope in Kalk Bay on my first day to learn karate with Peter Brandon, our instructor.
It was my last year of high school and I wanted to do something to keep fit and find the inner discipline to make it through what would be a tough year. Although I put it out of my mind as being far away, the reality of being conscripted into the military hung menacingly over my future.
In the dojo I was nervous for the first part of the session but Peter’s easy-going, almost casual but firm and disciplined teaching style made me relax. I enjoyed the training and went back the next time.
My brothers Grant and Clinton were also fascinated with karate. We had watched Bruce Lee films up in the fishermen’s flats in Kalk Bay. Dougie, a fisherman in his late thirties, inspired us with his tales of karate.
I think Grant had already started karate at Peter Brandon’s dojo in the Olympia bioscope hall before I joined. Grant was taller than me and took his karate seriously and had a pleasing style.
That year was the last time in my life that I stayed in Kalk Bay. An active year surfing Kalk Bay reef in the afternoons after school, studying for the final exams and going to the dojo. After that I would only see my brothers for short periods over the years when I was in Cape Town for brief holidays.
The essence of what I learned in the dojo in the Olympia bioscope hall in Kalk Bay was to find what I had within myself and master it on my own, in the words of the great karate teacher.
From those hours in the evenings in the grand old hall of the Olympic bioscope which it burned down and had been rebuilt I learnt how to remain calm and defend myself from the ever-present violence that suddenly appears like a dangerous wind that tosses the sea into a maelstrom in seconds.
The strength from the spirit of the way helped me survive three armed attacks by hijackers and house robbers each time with loaded guns pointed at my chest.
I am grateful for the teachers like Peter Brandon who gave his time, knowledge and wisdom to young people. From that dojo in the Olympia bioscope in Kalk Bay came the gift of finding inner strength and self mastery to guide the way on life’s journey.