Posts Tagged ‘Martial Arts’

Reid My Mind Radio – Certain Victory

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Occasionally, I come across a story that I think fits into a specific category. This latest piece for example was supposed to be about Robert Ott, a blind entrepreneur, but it ended up as so much more.

Picture of Robert Ott

Adjusting to blindness, disability  or any significant life change takes real strength, courage and spirit. Hear how Robert fought back from trauma to become a successful entrepreneur in the Business Enterprise Program.

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TR:
What’s good everyone!

In this episode I’m bringing you another piece produced for Gatewave Radio.
If you don’t know they are the radio reading service  out of New York City.
their purpose is to provide access to printed materials to those who are print impaired.
Meaning blind or visually impaired, or
for other reasons like physical or cognitive disability, they can’t read print.

Yes, many people today have access to technology that eliminates the need for this service, but
there are still a lot of people who either cannot afford or learn the technology.

One of the things I have realized over the last few years is that I really appreciate telling other people’s stories.

I’m also realizing it’s getting time for me to take another step.

To really tell some one’s story you have to spend time getting to see who they really are and what they are all about.

Doing that, takes a budget.
All of my productions are best described as NMO & NMI…
No Money Out & No Money In!
Well definitely NMI…
If you factor time and equipment well there’s a cost.

I’m honestly not sure what the next step is for me.

I guess I am just letting the universe know I am ready … or
at least open to taking a new step in telling people’s stories for a purpose.

Let’s get into this story and then some more immediately following the Gatewave piece.

But first…
[Audio: RMMRadio Theme Music]

&********

RO:
My name is Robert J. Ott. I originally graduated the Business Enterprise Program  in the state of New Jersey. I then became recertified in the state of Washington and moved my life out here and became a blind entrepreneur in this program.

TR:
The Business Enterprise Program  or B E P
is a federally authorized program implemented  by each state and territory in the United States.

they train and license   people who are blind or visually impaired
to establish and operate food service businesses in
public and private facilities.

RO:
That business did the food services for the western regional center of the National Oceanic Atmospheric  Administration. it was about  a thousand people in the complex. I took over the day care center, I fed 52 kids a day, overseeing 48 vending machines. We did all the catering; breakfast, lunch, fancy dinners . We used to get liquor permits from time to time for international meetings that we’d have there. I spent 10 years of my life there.

TR:
During a Washington state meeting of  B EP vendors,
Robert learned about an opportunity to gain a military contract.
Such contracts were never awarded to a blind vendor in the state and
only 35 vendors in the country had ever received such lucrative opportunities.

Feeling as though he reached a peak in his business at that time,
Robert decided he would pursue the contract.

After 2 and a half years of legal battles with the department of defense ,
Robert was awarded the contract.

RO:
I formed a corporation; it was titled Certain Victory Food Services Incorporated. I had 833 employees.

September 1, 2004 I walked into my office on what is now called  Joint Base Lewis McChord. We were providing the labor, proper service; we were taking care of these young men and women for fighting  for freedom and independence.

TR:
Robert success story can be defined by one word; Pilsung.

The definition, is in his story,
beginning with his introduction to the Martial Arts.

Growing up in Southern New Jersey.  Robert was raised by a single mom.

Like most boys who first watched Bruce Lee on the big screen,
Robert immediately began imitating the acrobatic moves.

[Audio: Bruce Lee’s fighting scene]

RO:
I wasn’t sure what I was doing. My brain wasn’t even doing the thinking. My body was simply kicking  and moving, punches and everything else.

TR:
Robert’s mom couldn’t afford to send her son to lessons.

When Robert turned 12, an affordable and convenient opportunity was presented and
he began studying Tae Kwon Do

RO:
I ended up  winning the New Jersey State Championships two years in a row. From there, the Junior Olympics down in Florida, The Fight for Cancer Championships, Northeast Pocono Championships Garden State Championships. I also lost some battles too. What it was really doing on the inside was  building my self-esteem and confidence to look somebody eye to eye and shake their hand with warmth, goodness and my own self security confidence  at the same time.

TR:
Robert continued studying different forms of Martial Arts with
multiple instructors in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Each instructor providing something new,
One in particular stood out to Robert.

RO:
I remember opening up Tae Kwon Do Times magazine. In the back was the directory  of instructors and little pictures of their faces. And it was one in Pennsylvania  and I said this is the guy I need to go to. And I remember my girlfriends said what are you talking about. I said, he’s looking at me. And she laughed. I said no he is. There I met Grand Master  Go Chae Teok. I became one of his students. A year following that I became the officer manager and chief  instructor . I began to operate, run and dealt with sales instructing, maintenance, advertising, marketing and the biggest thing that happened during that time is that here I am  standing in front of a group of 60 children with all of the parents up on the second floor loft looking down  and I’m teaching. Or I’m standing in front of all of these adults that are much older than me and here I am their instructor and they’re looking to me for guidance. Here I am in the office when people would come in with challenges they’d have in life and we’d be talking. I began to realize more than anything  else that I  do this from the heart and I’m good at what I do . It’s a passion I had. I was 18 years old.

TR:
By 1990, Robert was running his own school teaching Hapkido.

RO:

Which is a Korean Martial Arts. It translates to art of coordinated power. It was growing. So much was going with my life. A lot of responsibility, my relationship was being challenged, I had a great business but I was still trying to figure out how am I going to get everything to tie in together and make ends meet. I’d just given my mother away at her wedding. She married a beautiful man  and my mother gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. This is when I was 21 years old.

TR:
On October 6, 1990 Robert’s life would change forever.

RO:
It’s funny because all that night, I kept saying to myself over and over again you’re not gonna go out, you’re not gonna go to this bar. I couldn’t shut my mind down I had to do something and I guess going there was that answer at the age of 21.

[Audio: Sounds of bar crowd]

So I went in, I was chit chatting, this and that, it was no more than 10 minutes  later a large group of people came in who were heavily intoxicated. I was talking to a female , we were having a nice conversation and the next thing you know another individual  came between us and was getting involved, he wanted to put his hands on her.

She’s with me, I think you had a little bit too much to drink.

She went towards the back of the bar and I was slowly putting on my jacket  to go back to the end of the bar  to walk away from the situation. I certainly could defend myself  and take care of myself but I also learned in life that when you’re dealing with people in certain situations  they could be 1 inch tall and you may be in the best shape of your life but if they don’t care about life  you’re dealing with a whole other ball game!

As I was walking away he pushed me from behind . I turn around to defend myself. The next thing you know, the manager of the bar  was pushing me out the door . The bouncer was pushing the other guy out the door and it was all just happening.

I remember very little, but the key parts I do remember is my right leg going between his legs and sweeping his feet off the ground. Dropping my knee into his groin and I was on top of him. And then the next thing I remember I was tucking my shirt in with my friend in front of me. The door cracked back open  that went out to the parking lot and the  man while I was looking the other direction put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger.

[Audio: Gunshot, followed by ambulance…]

The bullet entered the left part of my skull  and went through the left temporal lobe of my brain. Caught the nerve to my left eye , destroyed my taste and smell and blew up in my right eye.

They got me over to Cooper Trauma Center which is located in Camden New Jersey. It was a total of 17 hours  that I laid there and it was nothing they could do.

TR:
Robert wasn’t expected to survive.
His mother was told if he did it was almost certain that he would have severe brain damage.

RO:
A nurse by the name of Fran Orth  who worked in the Trauma Center came in on the second shift. She spent time reading my information looking at me, reading information, looking at me,  she began to question why wasn’t my head lifted up. Why was not this done, why was not that  not done. And the Neuro Surgeon said there’s nothing we can do he’s going to be dying. She said but did you call Dr. Luis Servante?

TR:
Dr. Servante received the call and answered.
He went on to perform surgery that gave Robert another chance at life.

Recovery, would take some time.

He had to deal with Meningitis that required another stay in the hospital.

At the time of the shooting, Robert was a fit 185 pounds.
As a result of the fall after being shot
Robert’s jaw was broken and wired shut.
He dropped to about 125 pounds.

RO:
I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Everything was racing through my mind. I’ve got pictures of me doing dive rolls over large groups of people and doing splits in the air. I used to go running a lot on the beach and hand springs and just all kinds of beautiful great stuff. I was so weak I couldn’t even do a push-up and now I’m blind. I can’t get around, my independence, my confidence, my self-esteem, my balance.

TR:
The recovery wasn’t just physical.

As the owner and operator of a Martial Arts school,
Robert was more than just an instructor to his students.

RO:
My school was still operating. My students were keeping it going for me, but I was embarrassed to go back. I didn’t want the children and people to see me now. I was ashamed of myself. I could have taught you ten different way when someone puts a gun to you. Techniques and things and ways of taking them down and removing the gun from their hands etc. How your body moves and how your eyes are and how you react to it.

I never thought it would really really happen!

TR:
It was Martial Arts that would once again  help Robert find his way.

RO:
Richard Kemon was my very first Martial Arts Instructor. I really looked up to him, respected him so much. He was like a father to me. And he said Bobby you have to put your uniform on, you gotta go back to your school.

TR:
Robert would go on to regain his  self-confidence and seek out new opportunities.

When it was time, he learned of the BEP program.

RO:
I remember this guy came by the house  to bring me a watch, a talking watch from the New Jersey Commission of the Blind. We started talking about the Business Enterprise Program. I decided to investigate it more. It was what I wanted to do, my dream, but I didn’t look at it as my dream. I looked at it as my tool.

TR:
This was just one tool of many.

Robert already had tools he began accumulating  when introduced to the Martial arts.

I’m talking about more than  the
flying kicks or wood shattering punches.

RO:
Working with people with self-control, confidence, peace of mind, communicating properly, sharing your energy and spirit.

TR:
That spirit eventually guided Robert to Washington state.
Fortunately, he didn’t leave his  sense of humor behind.

TR [In conversation with Robert]:
What made you go from Jersey all the way to Seattle?

RO:
Well that’s a lot of times what  happens when you’re blind and get behind the wheel.

TR:
[Laughs…]
Nice!

TR:
In addition to becoming a successful entrepreneur, he began once again teaching Martial Arts and more…

RO:
I started getting involved with working with other individuals who are blind. I put together a women’s self-defense seminar. I spent time with he Wounded Warriors. I got involved with the children at the Elementary School. I wrote a book.

TR:
The name of that book?
Certain Victory, which is also the name of Robert’s company.

Once again, it goes back to the martial arts; it goes back to pilsung!.

RO:
That same magazine that I told you I was reading when I told you I saw the picture of Grand master Goh.

The article I read in that magazine was called Pilsung. It was about a man and he just earned his first degree black belt.

TR:
Soon after, while piloting his own plane, he crashed.

RO:
And he ended up hitting the high tension line; wires. And 90percent of his body was burnt and he survived.

The whole story  was about overcoming this, getting through this, fighting the fight, finding what he called certain victory. In Korean, pilsung means certain victory through strength, courage and indomitable spirit.

TR:
One word, two syllables Pilsung  helped one man strive to reach his potential.

Robert’s book, Certain Victory is available on Bookshare.org.
It’s also available on Amazon.com and his website Certain Victory.com.

This is Thomas Reid
[RO:
There’s one in Pennsylvania and I said this is the guy I need to go to.]

for Gatewave Radio
Audio for Independent Living.

[Audio Bumper]

Some of my favorite conversations here on Reid My Mind Radio are with those who are adjusting to Blindness.
Notice I didn’t say adjusted.
I truly believe the adjustment process is a continuing practice.

If you ever talked to anyone experiencing blindness or disability,
you may have heard stories about body snatchers and mysteriously disappearing people.

Ok, I’m not being literal.

These are the people in our lives who no longer come around or
they just act very differently around us…

Robert says this was one advantage of making the move out west.

RO:
Nobody knew me here from when I could see.
Thomas the other issue I battle with is I was very well known when I could see. And every time I turned around I’d run into somebody in the supermarket or in the store and they were just always saying to me we’re so sorry for what happened Robert. But they were getting together with me anymore. They weren’t the friends they used to be. I was not the same Robert  any more. I was not the same Bobby. I was somebody different.

Out here I was who I was . No more nor less. people know me for who I am right now. It was almost like breaking free.

TR [In conversation with Robert]:

Yeh, a lot of people kind of fade away. They fade away! It is what it is!

RO:
They do!

TR [In conversation with Robert]:

That ability to start fresh really sounds nice!

RO:
Yes, there’s several components Thomas that I think have been  what I have grabbed onto to help recreate and or clarify who and what I am right now. And in so many words I am the same guy I always was. You know when we were younger all we wanted to do was know, know, know. Learn more and learn more  and learn more. And as I’ve gotten older I’m now trying to understand , understand  and understand more more more!

TR:
Those things that we want to know when we are younger and
try to understand more when we’re older
are said to always be inside us.

That idea that Robert talked about, Pilsung or
strength courage and  Indomitable spirit.
These are already inside of us and
we just need to believe that and
find our way of accessing especially
when we experience life changes.
It’s not easy, but hearing from people like Robert and others, it’s worth the effort.

I don’t know my next step in producing this podcast,
stories for Gatewave or any other outlet  or
even other things I tend to focus my energy on…

But I do know as Robert said…

RO:
Hey if it makes a difference  for one person in this world Thomas then we win!

You can win too!

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Check out ReidMyMind.com for links, all past episodes plus more.

Big thanks to Robert for sharing his story.
Thanks to riley Gibson for recording Robert’s side of the conversation.
Thanks to you for listening!

[Audio: RMMRadio Outro Theme]

Peace!

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