I don't know if you guys know Donn Douthitt. Odds are you have probably seen him. Mr. Donn helps out with classes two nights a week here at the school, and often covers classes when Neil and I are out of town.
Of all my students, Donn is one of whom I am most proud. Why, you ask? Well...
Donn has been training with us for almost 5 years. He started back in the days when the school was on Five Mile Rd., and when the school had it's first employee, Brian. I remember three separate things that happened to Mr. Donn in the first few weeks of his training.
1) Donn, at around 50, was out of shape, and in those days I hadn't figured out how to train beginners. I pushed him extremely hard - harder than I would dare to push anyone now. He was hurting. You could tell.
2) It seemed like every class someone was bruising his shins and arms, and though he didn't complain it was obvious that he wasn't thrilled.
3) The biggest guy in the school kicked a white belt Donn in the mouth sending him to the E.R for stitches.
I think you'd agree, most people would have given up. In fact, I recall Brian saying, "I can't believe that Donn guy keeps coming! If anyone had a reason to leave..." But quitting just isn't Mr. Donn's way. Mr. Donn earned his black belt at our first black belt test a year ago.
Few of my students worked as hard as Donn did as a color belt. He was 100% rock solid on his attendance, often coming in to use the mat when the school was closed, and frequently meeting Mr. Tyler for one on one classes to improve his technique. He worked exceptionally hard, at times out training and out doing his younger counterpart, Mr. Neil.
Today I'm astounded at how good Donn has really become. His fitness, at 50+ is exceptional even for a 25 year old. His forms are very good. He has no fear (well, no paralyzing fear) of standing across from "the Master" in the ring. And, quite honestly, he might have a better grasp of Dan Holland's ground fighting than I do.
Additionally, Donn's support of the school, me and my family has never wavered. In three years of helping and teaching class, he has missed only TWO days.
But what I find the most remarkable about Donn Douthitt, is that he's accomplished all of this on the strength of his mental discipline. I don't think he'd mind me saying that he's not a natural athlete. Perhaps he's even the opposite. Donn, however, is goal-oriented and driven, rock-solid and consistent. He's become an excellent practitioner. He's a model martial artist, the students look up to him, and so do I.