conducted by Robert Kaiser
The following is a continuation of the interview originally introduced in the September 2021 issue of the NAJJA Newsletter.
Geoff Crouse – 7th dan; Portola Valley, CA:
Sensei Gorman, you’re famous for telling stories with deep messages: Luluku the exceptionally slow learner, the young practitioner that wanted to prove his toughness by beating the old master, etc. I’d like to know your top 5 stories, and which one is your favorite and why.
FG: I’ll have to think about that. I do have a story… Walter Mattson called me up one day and said, “Hey Frank, I got this request to do a karate demonstration. Northeastern University has a camp for handicapped kids in Wayland, Massachusetts and none of my guys are available. Do you think you could assist me?” I said, “Sure, no problem Walter. Tell me where and what time to be there.”
We did our katas and we did some self-defense techniques. There were a couple of hundred kids. Some kids were totally disabled, it was a heart-wrenching situation. I said to Walter, “Don’t ever ask me to do this again,” because some of these kids could not even get out of their wheelchairs. So we are walking to change out of our uniforms, and this hand grabs my wrist. I looked down and it’s an 11 or 12 year old boy, shaggy blonde hair, beautiful face, and he’s in a wheelchair with no legs. He looks at me and says: “Oh man, you guys are wonderful. I love karate!” He’s telling me how much he loves karate and that he’s so glad we came and what I remember more than anything are his blue eyes. To this day if I look up into the sky and see blue in the sky, I see his blue eyes, that blonde hair, and his smiling face. I see that boy’s face all the time.
A few years after that a good friend of mine asked me “Hey Frank, are you Catholic?” I replied, “Yeah – not a good one, but I am a Catholic!” He went on to say that his wife had signed him up for a Renew Program at a church in Pittsfield [Massachusetts] and that he didn’t want to go alone. We drove down to Pittsfield, and there were maybe 8 or 10 people in the group, sitting around a large conference table. The monsignor asked everybody to tell a story, and people would tell a story of things that happened to them in their life. When it came to me I didn’t have a story, so I told my story of the little boy I had met at the karate demonstration, and how I see his face every day. The monsignor said: “Well, you know what happened to you that day, Frank? God touched you. He sent one of his angels down to see you.“