I was always an over weight kid. As long as I can remember I have battled it. I started getting picked on at an early age for it. Well meaning family members would say "If only....". They didn't know how bad it hurt me and I was afraid to tell them. In Jr High I was 1 of 3 players who were picked to play on the Jr High AND JV football teams because of it. Even then I was still called every "fat" name you can imagine, teased by team mates, and coaches alike. As I grew older I started to realize their opinions didn't matter. The ONLY opinion that mattered was Mine and MINE alone. As I entered high school I started to have more friends, even though there were still times I was harassed because of my weight. I graduated in 1993 and never looked back. Fast forward to 1998 and I meet the girl of my dreams on of all places the internet (which believe it or not a few shorts 5 years before was still a government pipeline between bases). We began chatting and sharing stories. Over time we became very close friends and after a messy divorce began "dating". We would talk daily for hours (we joke now that if we had all the money we spent on long distance phone cards and phone bills we could pay both our kids college tuition..lol). In 2000 she made the trek from california to Arkansas to meet me, and a few months later I made the trek to meet her family. In Aug of 2001 (2 weeks later the world changed forever on 9/11) and we were married June 1, 2002. In 2003 I made 2 major changes in my life. On march 4, 2003 I had gastric bypass surgery and lost over 100 lbs and on September 3 I began training in martial arts. My training gave me the confidence to show who I truly was and be myself for the first time in my life. It also gave me the skills and the opportunity to help those that have been in my position. I 2005 I began training as an instructor (I was a purple belt in Shaolin Kenpo at the time). In 2006 I suffered a major back injury which almost ended my martial arts career cold turkey. I sat at home on one hand feeling sorry for my self and on the other raising my 2 gorgeous daughters ( the oldest mackenzie was born in 2004 and the youngest, Madison, was born in 2005 shortly after I began my instructors training). One day in 2011 I happened to run into my old Sensei and after asking about my family and how I was doing asked me a question that would once again change my life forever. He looked at me and asked "Do you want to come help out at the dojo part time to get out of the house?" I replied with an emphatic "YES!", but that I needed to discuss it with my wife. We discussed the 2nd chance I was being given and after several days went by to talk to him. After talking for awhile I agreed to go back on a part time volunteer basis doing phone calls, booking appointments, etc. That was a little over a year ago, and I was just recently promoted to Chief Instructor (even though there are 2 black belts that out rank me as a brown belt) and he is training me to take over and run the dojo so he can take a break from the daily grind after 18+ years of doing it. If you are being bullied stay strong in the fact that more than likely later in life YOU will be the bigger person. Know that you are NOT alone, and most important of all SPEAK UP.... Much love from So Cal
Ron Freeman, Jr
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