Last night I went to a “This is your life” presentation to mark the 70th birthday for Malcolm Ravrnscroft. He was my Judo Instructor when I was a kid. I was invited to give a short speech as part of the presentation and this is what I said…
“Malcolm was my Judo instructor, (which invokes images akin to an army drill sergeant) so it may be somewhat surprising that I have fond memories of him.
Malcolm took an uncoordinated kid, and with time, encouragement, and patience, taught him a little Judo. Although I never excelled at the sport, it gave me a level of fitness, balance, coordination and confidence that I had not enjoyed until then. Although over the last 20 years I have lost a lot of the fitness, I am still thankful for the coordination, balance and skills I learnt due to Malcolm.
Judo means “gentle way”, and Malcolm embodied that spirit. Although other dojos emphasised aggression, Malcolm’s classes were always about fun, cooperation, and about learning the skills. Instead of trying to beat your opponent, you were trying to teach them. It was this friendly environment that encouraged me to stay in Malcolm’s class from childhood, right through my teenage years.
I cannot imagine how many hundreds of other kids he must have helped in a similar way. The overall effect Malcolm has had on the Christchurch community must have been huge, but for the most part hidden and subtle.
I had not seen Malcolm for about 20 years, and he seemed to be surprised but delighted to see me. As you can see I owe a lot to Malcolm, and it seems so do a lot of other people. There were people from as far as Finland and France there for the presentation.
The presentation was also to mark the 25th anniversary of the launch of his company, Ravenscroft’s. It turns out that since he has stopped being a Judo Instructor he has become involved in the Conservation Trust, working at Willowbank Wildlife Park to help conserve Kiwis.
I hope to be able to catch up with again in a less formal setting in the near future.