A week before Christmas one of our black belt moms, Donna Boyer, was going to meet some friends for dinner when she was struck by a hit and run driver in the Mission. He was going approximately 25 miles per hour. The other people in the intersection were shocked (but managed to copy the man's license plate and call the police--he was later apprehended), and thought for sure that this petite lady was horrendously injured. What they didn't know, is that she is a real life ninja!
When Donna realized she couldn't jump out of the way in time, she did what we taught her and turned to the side so her vital organs were safe, and tucked into a ball as the car struck her hip. Despite being thrown by the car, we are pleased to tell you that Donna was able to get up and much to the surprise of the ER doctors, she is ok! She has the world's gnarliest bruise on her hip, but she is safe!
She texted us from the ER, thanking us profusely for teaching her skills that probably saved her life. We are so relieved that she is ok, and we are proud that she was able to use her falling and blocking skills without a moment's hesitation. Here is the way her hip looked about a week after the accident (she didn't let a little bruise keep her from going on vacation!)
And she's not the only member of her family for whom taekwondo has proven to be a life-saving skill set. Her teenage son Sam (who will be testing for his 3rd degree black belt in February), was playing with friends on the concrete bunkers in the Presidio last fall. They were playing tag as it was getting dark, and Sam ran right off the edge onto the concrete below. He told us later that in the air he actually thought "What would the Navarrete's want me to do?", rolling into a ball and standing right up again. He also only suffered a bruise to the hip where he landed, but gained some serious street cred as a ninja--the other kids he was with expected to see a gory scene below.
While we hope that no one is ever in a situation where they need to put into play the skills they learn here, we are overjoyed to know that what we teach really works. Over the years, we've had nearly a dozen students report back that they would have been seriously injured or killed in a fall or accident if they hadn't known how to fall. While it might seem tedious to practice tucking your chin and keeping your arms in while falling over and over again on the mat, it becomes worth it in a second when you can walk away from a serious incident rather than leaving the scene in an ambulance.
Is there an instance where taekwondo has helped you in a real-life situation? Please share your story with us in the comments section.