Black Belt Robert Price Comments about the Early Days of LOTUS, as well as Why no Book has been Written about LOTUS Self-Defense




I recently asked Robert Price, the first farang to test for black belt in Lotus Self-Defense, why he thought Ajarn Precha told all of the original students in Ubon that no books about Lotus were allowed to be published.  Here is Price's response:

Ajarn Precha and all his first students wanted to ensure that Lotus was only learned in Thailand by Ajarn himself, not by reading about it or seeing it in a book.  The grueling daily workouts and the not giving up and quitting were a very important part of earning the right to study Lotus. Training in Lotus was reserved for those in Ajarn's studio and under his watchful eyes, not by reading a book.

The drop out rate in the American class was nearly 95% in the first year of Lotus in 1971. Sharing Lotus with G.I.'s that first year meant in Ajarn's eyes,  we the Americans had to earn the right to be taught by him.  We had to earn respect from Ajarn and it was not easy.  We had to prove we were students who refused to give up or give in.  Ajarn wanted to see the Spirit of a true Warrior and he only wanted Americans who were willing to train Muay Thai style. Many Americans started but few continued. They just did not have the commitment nor did they have the heart or the Spirit for the Lotus. This was especially true of my white brothers.  It was just too tough for them to stick it out.  That is why 85% of the first class was made up by my black brothers.  They were willing to give what Ajarn demanded of his students. Very few whites made it through the first month.  I left Thailand in February 1972.  I heard more and more Americans were starting to train with Ajarn, as he was well known by the G.I.'s by that time, and the American students were soon financing a new studio.

Back to "no book" on Lotus:  Ajarn did not want an American G.I. to start training in Lotus and quit, and then have a book to continue his training without being trained directly by Ajarn himself.  He used those tremendous workouts to "weed out" the true Lotus student from others who were not willing to give their all in training and still come back for more the next night or the next day.  You had to really be tough and willing to train hard and long everyday of the week in hot weather and rain. Here is a secret; I believe it if had not been for our nightly trips to a massage parlor we may not have been able to take the abuse we put our bodies through daily. We usually limped in stiff and sore and a little broken up and left almost feeling refreshed before we went back to the base after our workouts.  We always told ourselves if we were to be attacked on the streets immediately after a workout, we would have very little left to defend ourselves with, other than our mental strength.  But when we came out from the massage parlor we were ready for anything and anyone and were determined to return to training the next day and the next day and the next day.  Seven days a week we trained and we did not need a book.  On weekends we trained twice as hard as we did the weekdays.

The Lotus student of the early 1970ís had each technique and move drilled into him or her over and over again.  Ajarn wanted his Lotus to be learned and shared only through blood, sweat, and tears with a brotherhood built on the same. The respect we had for each other in class was based on the giving of so much and sharing of so much in our Lotus training.  Lotus training required going far beyond the abilities and pain you thought was your limit. My Lotus brothers and sister who didn't or wouldn't give up on themselves stayed and trained and all agreed "no book" meant Lotus would not be learned by someone who had not earned the right to know Lotus.

Lotus is Thailand's only national martial art, accepted and validated by the Thai government.  It's founder and grandmaster is one of Thailand's best martial artist ever known and a true master of his art of Lotus Self-Defense. No book was Ajarn's way of protecting and keeping the Lotus pure to its original design. I, as one of his first American black belts from his first American class, agree with him.

Robert Price
Submitted by Tim E. Hollembaek