I turned someone away today

I turned away a prospective student today.

"Thank you for choosing CFMAF Martial Arts, Colorado's leader in providing realistic training for adults and families." It is my normal response when my phone rings. The person on the other end quickly spoke up and introduced himself. He told me that I am fourth or fifth school that he has spoken to today and that he has set up appointments with each one. He then told me that he is ready to enroll today with whichever school that he selects.


I politely interrupted him to let him know who I am and to ask for his name again. As he told me, I continued to listen, I mean truly listen to him. Something was different. Maybe my years in the military combined with my years as police officer, allowed for me to hear something that the other schools he had called may have missed.

"Why are interested in learning martial arts" I inquired "You have a serious interest by calling three or four schools before calling me."

He began to tell me the usual, he is interested in self defense, always wanted to learn martial arts, etc. Then I said, "Sir there has to be something more that has prompted you to call so many schools today. I have the feeling that you have a list of more schools to call after me, right?"

He paused for a moment and said "Oh I am a alcoholic and I want help to quit drinking. My wife said she has had it and will leave me." I could hear the sincerity and the pain in his voice. Now, even more, I understood why he sounded different as he spoke. Even with the thought of wife leaving, even with him knowing the consequences of his drinking, he has been drinking. His incomplete thoughts lead to incomplete sentences which lead to him jumping from one topic to another as he continued to speak with me. To pull his focus took over the conversation, "Are you going to AA or any other treatment facility" I asked. "I have done all of them, rehab, detox, AA, so I am thinking martial arts will help me quit. The other schools said they can help."

Upon hearing that I felt compelled to say this "Of course they said they can help because they are more concerned about the money they can get from you instead of directing you back to the true professionals whose sole purpose is to equip you to handle your addiction." I continued "Look, I can accept you as a student, but right now you don't need martial arts as your treatment center, you need the treatment center. Then martial arts can aid in your recovery, but not replace the treatment center. Understand, I can say come to my school, but when you show up and I smell the alcohol on you, not only do I kick you out, but I call the police if I see that you were driving." "I respect that" he said. "Then your wife becomes more discouraged because not only did you NOT listen to her about quitting alcohol, you have now add on a $15,000 or more debt in legal fee's due to a DUI."

"I didn't like AA and the treatment facilities. They didn't help." he said. "It isn't about if you like them or not, it is about YOU NEEDING THEM. They can only help if you submit and allow for them to help. Look, I don't care if you train with me in the future or not, but I do care that you prove to yourself and to your wife that you are taking the necessary steps to defeat this addiction." I said.

He took a brief second and then said "I do want to train with you though. Just talking with you now I know that I have now reached the right place." he explained. "Well, if you want to train with us, you must first show to your wife that your love for her is greater than your excuses. Go back to a treatment center. Once you are there follow what they need for you to do. Then when your sponsor feels that you are ready, both of you call me and then i will assist you, but until then you have to help yourself first by contacting a treatment program and going to meetings."


He paused for a moment. I could hear him struggling "None of the others took this time to talk to me. Thanks."

I responded, "Well I am not one of the others. I care about you reestablishing your marriage and controlling your addiction. This all starts with you and sadly it can all end with you."


Before hanging up he asked for name again and how he can contact me. I told him that I would send him a text and I did so. Just a few minutes after sending him a text he wrote me "Thank you Isaac. You have no idea how much your time and intelligent words mean."

I wrote him back "You are welcome. The next time I hear from you I hope to hear that you are engaged in the fight against alcoholism and not that you have surrendered to it. Yes, it will be a difficult fight, but you and your wife are worth fighting for." With that I received his last text...

"Thanks again so much...I have to detox first but I did forward her all your messages and told her that after I get this poison out of my body that I want to study under you. Even though I'm drunk I can tell that you are a true human being. Thank you again."


Yeah, I turned away a potential client today. It doesn't matter if he remembers CMFAF or me. It only matters that he remembers that he and his wife are worth fighting for and someone took the time to remind him of that. Yeah. I turned away a potential client today, but I hope that in a small way I helped someone remember that people can care.



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