Zayan Rafeek - A Muslim Muay Thai Practitioner from Regent Park, Toronto.  (Sid Naidu Photography 2013)

Zayan Rafeek - A Muslim Muay Thai Practitioner from Regent Park, Toronto.  (Sid Naidu Photography 2013)

We all know who the Dark Knight is right? You know the Caped Crusader? World’s greatest detective? Batman? Well I hope so! This man is feared by not just villains but also by some superheroes! Some of which even thought he was a myth. The man that took Superman head on and beat him! (Dark Knight Returns for those that are curious) But there’s been something that’s always bugged me and that was why does a hero like Batman need a sidekick? Is it because Robin needs Batman? Or does Batman need Robin?

Before I share my opinion on the question, let me share a story that helped me come to this contemplation.

Finding The Warrior Within

Kru James Hines owner of Siam No.1 Old School Muay Thai & Ajahn Suchart a world leading Muay Thai expert & owner of Siam No.1 House of Muay Thai, celebrating the first Graham Barton Scholarship received by Zayan Rafeek in 2013

Kru James Hines owner of Siam No.1 Old School Muay Thai & Ajahn Suchart a world leading Muay Thai expert & owner of Siam No.1 House of Muay Thai, celebrating the first Graham Barton Scholarship received by Zayan Rafeek in 2013

I’ve been doing Muay Thai for 3 Years now. Muay Thai is a martial art that originates from Thailand. It’s sometimes referred to as The Art of Eight Limbs or Thai Kickboxing. Unlike normal kickboxing, Muay Thai uses elbows and knees along with your regular kicks and punches. As a participant of a student support organization called Pathways to Education I was offered free Muay Thai classes in Siam No.1 Old School Muay Thai. Owner of the gym is Kru (Thai for Instructor) James “Big Bird” Hines, the first student of Canada’s Thai Champion, the respected father of this Thai tradition, Ajahn Suchart. Of course I never knew what Muay Thai was before that but all I heard on my first day was “one of the most intense martial arts”. Like every other kid that made me curious so I wanted to check out what it really was. And I kid you not, it took only one session for me to fall in love with the art!

Kru James has provided free classes to many students like myself, who are from low-income communities. To this day he hasn’t charged us a single dollar. But that’s not what astonishes me. It’s the fact that he considers us family and made the gym like home. You could tell he genuinely cared for all his students. Often I’d find him cracking jokes, like calling us the ‘adopted ones’. He always took the time to ask if everything was good, supported us when we’re down and always kept tabs to make sure we’re staying out of trouble. Like every other martial arts, learning Muay Thai came with discipline, respect, time management, anger management, self-confidence, patience, etc. (The list could go on and on!) But there’s one thing Kru James taught me that not all gyms teach, and that’s the importance of giving back to your community.

Throughout my stay in the gym I always felt the need to give back to the community. I had an extremely positive experience and I wanted others to have at least the opportunity to have the experience I did. Contributing to your community has a ripple effect, the positive impact it has on one person starts to spread, which ultimately creates a stronger community. I’ve also come to realize how much of a difference a simple act of giving could make. Not saying what Kru James did was small, but he has probably been the first person who inspired me to do something for others. He was the force that motivated me to do something for the community that did so much for me.

Getting The Gloves Dirty

 

Dont quit! Suffer now & live the rest of your life a champion - Muhammed Ali (Sid Naidu Photography 2013)

Dont quit! Suffer now & live the rest of your life a champion - Muhammed Ali (Sid Naidu Photography 2013)

So I decided to start giving back where my journey began, at Siam No.1 Old School Muay Thai. I volunteered at the gym as an Assistant Instructor for 2 years, helping out in various capacities, ranging from opening the gym to supporting trainers who run classes. As a result, Kru James awarded me as the first recipient of the Graham Barton Muay Thai Scholarship, which allowed me to spend a whole month in Thailand to train Muay Thai. Like any other person who practices Muay Thai this was a dream come true! What I enjoyed the most was training with Legends and those who live and breath Muay Thai. To experience the lifestyle as a Thai Fighter was an experience itself. Thailand’s a stunning country with beautiful people and amazing food. Aside from all of that, my main goal with this trip was to bring back what I learned in Thailand to my gym.

Pain is temporary, Pride is forever - The Unknown Warrior (Sid Naidu Photography 2013)

Pain is temporary, Pride is forever - The Unknown Warrior (Sid Naidu Photography 2013)

Coming back to the original question. Does Robin need Batman or vice versa? Here’s my theory, Batman took the kid who witnessed his parents’ die in front of him (just like Batman’s own story) and provided Robin with a home, training and a purpose. A parallel similar to what Kru James did for me.

Now if it weren’t for Batman, the character Dick Grayson (Robin) wouldn’t become the man he is today. However what if all of that was for Batman himself?  What if this was a chance for Batman to give what he wasn’t given, a righteous mentor. Batman was a darker person before Robin came along (not to mention Robin helped Batman on numerous occasions). Even though it works both ways, I personally feel like Batman needs Robin more. Batman taking on Robin as a protégé was more about passing down his knowledge than performing a charitable act. It was about leaving behind a legacy for a better future in their community, Gotham City. A legacy that, Robin would hopefully someday pass on.

My question to you is, do you have what it takes to be a Batman? Are you someone who uses their knowledge for the greater good!

 


Warriors Stance is part of the Hard Knock Leadership Collective, sharing the untold stories of culture and community around the world. It was created to build upon the warrior spirit found within mixed martial arts communities in order to highlight their physical and mental dedication to fight for a better life.
Interested in sharing stories of your warrior spirit? connect with @hardknockleader on twitter
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