Khru Lynda Hatch tells her story of how a person with a handicap can still succeed in achieving goals.
TBA: You were born deaf, correct?
Lynda: Yes, but the politically correct word nowadays is hearing impaired.
TBA: How does this affect your martial arts training?
Lynda: Well, I miss a lot during seminars, lectures and dialogue with more than two people. Lip-reading helps, but it is sporadically understood. Everyone?s lips move differently. Most instructors move around, and I cannot read their lips. I rely on my husband, Dave, to interpret during seminars, which can be difficult for him at times because things move so fast. At best, I go by visual movements. During sparring/demos, I cannot hear verbal instructions or subtle sounds, such as an opponent?s breathing or foot and hand movements. It is strictly a visual event for me.
TBA: When did you begin studying martial arts?
Lynda: In 1969, I started learning martial arts when I was in my first year at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a Japanese system of Karate called Shito ? Ryu. During that time, I met my husband, Dave, who was an assistant instructor. I received my first Black Belt in 1977.
TBA: What other martial arts have you studied?
Lynda: We moved in 1985, and Dave and I started going to seminars on Fun Fan Gung Fu / JKD and the Filipino Martial Arts taught by Guro Dan Inosanto, in Lansing, Michigan. I really wanted to learn how to handle knife attacks, and this seminar was an eye-opening experience. Since then, I became a part of Guro Dan?s Instructor program and achieved the Associate Level in 2001. I have several rankings, which include Mande Muda Pencak Silat under the late Pendakar Herman Suwanda, Lameco Escrima under the late Punong Guro Edgar Sulite, Wing Chun under Sifu Francis Fong and Muay Thai/Thai Boxing under Ajarn Surachai Sirisute.
TBA: How and when were you exposed to Muay Thai?
Lynda: During the late 1980?s, my husband and I attended a joint seminar in Chicago with Guro Inosanto and Ajarn Chai, and my first impression was, WOW! What a workout. It was tough, but it kept me in great shape. I had never even thought about testing for an Instructor Level in Muay Thai. My initial impression of Ajarn Chai was not too good. To me, he seemed mean and arrogant, but as the years went by, I got to know him better, and would enjoy seeing him smile. However, the training and conditioning were still tough and demanding. More than ten years later, I finally decided to take the Muay Thai apprenticeship test, six months after my husband took his test.
TBA: How old were you when you took your test?
Lynda: I was 48 years old. I am 5?2″ tall and weigh 112 pounds. My two feeders were LaTanya Charlson from Virginia and Oscar Kallet from Ohio. Both were taller, bigger and younger than me, and because I was over 40, Ajarn Chai said that they would not be as hard on me during the test as they are on younger people. HA! It was not quite true, as far as I was concerned. It was a tough and nerve-wracking test, but I was determined, and focused on getting through it as best I could
TBA: Because of your profound hearing loss, were there any adjustments to your test?
Lynda: I went through the same test as any hearing person would have had to go through it. Dave would interpret the instructions from Ajarn Chai for me. Due to not hearing the music for the Ram Muay Ceremony, I had to perform at a pace I thought to be correct. According to Ajarn Chai, I was a little too fast, but I had great form. During the two three-minute rounds of my test, I could not hear the counters for knee strikes and round kicks, or people cheering me on. Dave tried to fill me in on the numbers of kicks and knees when I happened to see him in front of me, but to get through it, I just had to depend totally on an inner strength and faith in myself. Knowing that the people supported me really helped a lot.
TBA: Any last comments?
Lynda: Yes. I hope that people reaslize that any worthwhile goal is valuable enough to keep the persistence to achieve it. Most importantly, regardless of the physical or mental handicap, never give up.