16 February, 2024

Martial arts journey that keeps giving

When Rod Lougheed first took his grandson Connor to martial arts, with the idea that this could benefit the youngster, little did the grandparent know how his own life would change.

By Liam Hauser

Rod Lougheed (right) has had a memorable journey in martial arts since going through some tough times, with the help of Brett Fenton (left).
Rod Lougheed (right) has had a memorable journey in martial arts since going through some tough times, with the help of Brett Fenton (left).

Now, Rod has become the oldest member of the Morayfield-based Red Dragon Martial Arts school to have a black belt.

Rod said he brought Connor along to check out martial arts one day in 2012, as Rod thought it could “give him confidence in avoiding potential bullying”.

Connor, however, pursued his love of rugby league instead, while Rod went on to have what he considered “the worst days” of his life from 2015 to 2017.

He had retired, while his wife Annette battled motor neurone disease (MND) and ultimately passed away in 2017 at the age of 64, following 47 years of marriage.

“I knew her all my life and now was plummeting to a very low point if I didn’t reach out and begin reinventing myself. Retirement sucked,” Rod said.

Things changed when Rod entered Red Dragon and spoke to the owner, Brett Fenton (Sifu).

Rod said he then realised that to feed his soul, mind and body, Kung Fu would be the path to wellbeing, while he could focus and concentrate on himself at Red Dragon.

“I fell off the training wheels regularly and got angry with myself and the world,” Rod said.

“Sifu was there to set things straight about biomechanics, mental attitude and toughness, (and) also how to forgive yourself when you mess up.

“I guess you call it DoJo, but it was more like a temple for me with camaraderie from instructors and other students.

“Especially Phil, another retiree who become a great friend and sparring partner.”

Without any urgency to grade, Rod started to learn and also felt the need to challenge himself further.

“During 2017, in the last six months, I graded three times – yellow, green and orange belts,” he said.

“My first successful grading resulted in (being) unable to tie off my sash.

“Yeah, believe it or not, in front of the whole Dojo, Sifu assisted by tying it off like a parent would help a child on his first day of school.

“He has been there for the whole journey.”

Rod went on to achieve blue and brown belts in 2018, before achieving a purple belt in 2019.

“Now what was to follow in 2020 is something I could not have imagined,” Rod said.

“Unbeknownst to me, my son James contacted Sifu to find out what Wing Chun dummy he would recommend for a gift on my 70th birthday.

“Now I had a good chance to achieve the 116 steps WDF (Wooden Dummy Form).”

Although covid interrupted proceedings, the live Zoom social distancing classes came in handy for Rod.

“Sifu had made a concerted effort to foster and motivate me towards the Holy Grail of martial art, with a senior black belt membership, which resulted in me becoming more confident, fitter and more agile than I had ever been,” Rod said.

Rod achieved a black belt first degree in 2021, before gaining the second degree two years later, and he said his next aim was to achieve the third degree in 2026.

Rod meanwhile has become engaged, and he expressed thanks to everyone who had supported him along the way.

Rod said his mantra was “never give up on yourself… make every day count… live…love life…forgive”.


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