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Toronto Star Sports

Out of Write Field
by Garth Woolsey

February 3, 1999

The Martial Artists Way
by Sifu Glen Doyle
HarperCollins, 120 pages, $22

There was a juicy story going the rounds a couple of summers back, on how Elvis Stojko and Eric Lindros got into a fight one night up in Muskoka. One or both had one too many brown pops, maybe, some words got said that couldn't be taken back and the next thing you know they're pounding on one another.

Elvis, the diminutive figure skater and matial artist, cleaned up on Lindros, the hulking and mean hockey player.

Or, so the story went anyway. It was subsequently debunked. Pulp fiction.

But the tale had heat because it played off Stojko's image-the macho guy who rides motorcycles, idolizes Bruce Lee and brings a streak of testosterone to the sequins and spangles world of skating. Stojko repeatedly has worked the martial arts into his performances, achieving an unprecedented marriage between toe-loops and eye-high kicks.

He still pursues both sports / arts on a practically daily basis, more often than not under the guidance of Sifu (Chinese for "teacher") Glen Doyle, a Newfoundland-born Torontonian who three times won the Canadian Kung-Fu championship but now devotes himself to teaching and, with this book, writing. Stojko has written a forward and naturally, receives mention elsewhere in these pages.

Over the years we've seen other books on the martial arts and more often than not they involve a lot of how-to photographs and many paragraphs written in religiously tinged tones about the warrior lurking within us all, no matter how wimpy we might seem. As celebrated time and again in the movies, the martial artist is the ultimate avenging angel, torn between kicking retributive butt and tiptoeing the inner stairway to heaven.

In a soft-cover book that can be read easily in one sitting, Doyle avoids the photo spreads and does a good job of answering the basics: Are the martial arts for me? Which form? What's involved? How do I choose a teacher?

Those who actually have dabbed in any of the martial arts might find some clarification here, some fresh reason to rededicate themselves to training and, possibly, competition. They might also consider switching specific disciplines as he emphasizes the importance of matching soul with fighting style.

Doyle, whose father started him in boxing at the age of 4, talks, too, about "the street," knowing full well that people are perhaps more motivated than ever to be prepared for dangerous confrontations. He pulls no punches, titling one section: "If you can't take a punch, don't fight."

A chapter is devoted to "the killer instinct" and an examination of the emotions involved in fighting: Anger ("gives strength and bravery"), fear ("gives perception and insight"), love ("gives drive and desire"), sadness ("gives open-mindedness and acceptance") and happiness ("gives endurance").

Doyle believes in observing the traditions of his sport and its lifestyle but also advocates the use of the martial arts in cross-training for athletes such as Stojko (he also works with champion ice dancers Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz).

"Many times throughout the training schedule I would travel up to Elvis' rink in Barrie, Ontario, to instruct him after his final skate in the afternoon. Though he would sometimes be fatigued from all his skating that day (sometimes between three to four hours), Elvis looked forward to the 'freshness' of the martial the workout moved on, he would get more and more energy and would crave more and more knowledge."

Doyle calls the process "awakening the giant."

"I use this term because in my experience with athletes and their discovery of the martial arts as their cross-training tool, they explode into their given sport feeling 10 feet tall and bulletproof."

Sort of like the way Eric Lindros plays hockey.

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