About Niall Yamane
Mixed Martial Arts can benefit children in many ways. Give it a chance. It just may change your child’s life as it did mine.
I was born the eldest of five children to Kosei and Aileen Yamane in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was born there before Hawaii became the 50th State. At that time, we had no television or phones in our home. We didn’t even have any freeways on the island. We drove to school on dirt roads.
To my parents' great sadness, I was born with several birth defects. Both of my feet and legs were twisted and deformed inwards, so my feet tripped across each other. Walking straight was a challenge. I had to wear braces on both legs 24/7 from the time I could walk through elementary school. I wore them even when I slept.
I suffered a severe stutter that affected me on a daily basis. This required many years of speech therapy. I also suffered from an inability to focus and concentrate. Back then, no one knew about ADHD or ADD, but I clearly had a severe case. And if that wasn’t enough, I experienced debilitating headaches several times a week. I was prescribed large daily doses of aspirin, but it didn’t help. We now know these headaches as migraines. I was constantly going to the doctor.
As a young child of only five years, and for many years after, I always wanted to play team sports. I begged my parents constantly to let me join a team. They refused. In retrospect I understand they were saving me from the humiliation of sure failure due to my health problems and disabilities.
The inability to run precluded just about all team sports. It would be difficult for me to communicate with teammates because of my stutter. And even if I had joined a team, I would have missed many practices due to my regular migraines. If I could have made it to practice, my ADHD would have prevented me from learning.
Fortunately, I was blessed to have loving parents who never gave up on me. My father was a Karate Master who had been taught by his father. When I was six, my father began teaching me this traditional Japanese martial art. That was over half a century ago. I resisted at first because it wasn’t the mainstream sports I wanted to play. However, my father’s wisdom in putting me on this path later became apparent.
He taught me in the privacy of our home—one on one. Parent to child/student at its best. It was home school before anyone ever heard of home school.
Learning in this environment allowed me to learn at my own pace without having to follow the many different needs of a team. My father patiently taught me for years. Eventually, he later introduced me to other martial arts such as Aikido, Judo, and Wrestling.
As the years progressed, my health improved. The regular martial arts drills and exercises built up my legs and helped straighten them. I learned to concentrate and develop focus which in turn helped with my speech therapy. The regular exercise gave me an important outlet for my tension and stress. This helped me control my migraines without medication. My life improved dramatically, and I began to live without suffering on a daily basis.
Most importantly, the martial arts my father taught me, gave me the confidence and courage, to believe I could overcome anything with persistence, resilience, and determination.
This story has a great ending. And I praise the Lord that both my parents lived to enjoy it.
- I made the high school varsity football team and started my sophomore, junior and senior years.
- My senior year, I was a State wrestling Champion.
- In college, I made the football team and played running back. Not bad for a boy that couldn’t walk.
- In college, I also made the wrestling team, which at the time, was one of the top 20 teams in the country. My dream to play team sports was now realized.
- After college, I was accepted into law school. I had ADHD and migraines beaten.
- I became a trial lawyer and tried many record-setting jury trials. My focus and concentration now controlled my stutter.
- And as an adult, I've run a half dozen full length marathons (26.2 miles).
- I even won 7 World Championships in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Submission Grappling. All at the Black Belt division.