Despite a serious arm injury, Dr Andrew Dallimore of Dandenong Ranges Veterinary Centre in Olinda, VIC, is helping to change kids’ lives by teaching judo.
When I was 14, I took up judo because I was short, tubby and getting bullied at school. First of all, it taught me to avoid fights. I started gaining discipline and worked hard at my training. The thing I like about judo is that you can defend yourself without hurting someone. There is a saying in judo, ‘When the enemy comes, welcome them, and then send them on their way.’ It means that when they attack, use their energy and momentum against them.
“I really liked judo and stayed with it all through my teen years. In my twenties, I reached a point where I could teach judo. Unfortunately, I was teaching a bricklayer when my arm was damaged. Heavy people and joints do not mix! It was a freak accident, nothing aggressive, but it severed my brachial artery. I was just two weeks away from earning my black belt and forced to give up judo. I thought I may never return to it.
“Eight years later, I was settling in at Dandenong Ranges Veterinary Centre and there was a local judo club nearby. The opportunity presented itself to train some of the local kids who weren’t having the best time. I just took it very easy until my arm gained some strength.
“I had taught kids in the past and run anti-bullying programs. Anyone can attend our judo classes but it is usually kids who are being bullied. Parents are often searching for something for their child because they are frustrated with the inaction of the schools.
“I’ve seen judo give these kids discipline, respect and self-worth. They have the confidence and the ability to recognise right from wrong. It also shows them how to identify and avoid dangerous situations, including bullies in and out of the schoolyard. When a situation can’t be avoided, they have the tools to defend themselves. A boy told me recently that he finally defended himself against a much bigger boy and dropped him on his butt in front of the principal. The principal handled it really well and a good result was achieved all round.
“Judo has a gentle nature that appeals to me. It’s all about respect and teaches you how to work with people rather than against them. It’s a full contact sport where we work together in training with no egos. It teaches avoidance and non-violence but if a situation turns ugly in real life, it’s a highly effective martial art.”