Tribute to David Ryan, by Laird Elliott:
Sensei Mattson, I clicked on the link to the memorial site tonight and was shocked to see that David Ryan had died. I went to high school with David in Greenwood N.S. and we played lacrosse together. After high school we lost touch for 3 or 4 years. When I joined Jim Maloney’s Dojo I discovered he was one of the teachers. He was a nidan then. When I left Halifax we lost touch again.
I have often considered asking on the forums if anyone knew of his where- abouts. He was an exceptional guy!
He was way too young to die. His entire life he was extremely fit, even in junior high. (he was a competitive swimmer back then)
He was a great instructor, and committed to Uechi. I once trained 5 nights a week for seven months straight. He never missed a night, he taught a class and took a class every night. It was a long streak for me but just the norm for David!
I use to love to watch him spar, he was so relaxed, circling looking for an opening. Striking and resuming his circle in the blink of an eye. He had an exceptional feel for distance. In and out make you pay, good hand speed!
Davie Ryan was always a warrior. Though those of us who played lacrosse with him didn’t realize it. We started playing lacrosse at 14/15. The next year most teams folded so our team ended up playing junior league, and the next year senior men’s league.
One game we played against a team that had two guys we all referred to as the “gorilla brothers” These guys were semi pro hockey goons. This was in the late sixties very early seventies when goon hockey was big. These guys were just trying to stay in shape over the summer, improve their fighting skills and hopefully crack the ranks of the NHL. The “gorilla brothers ” ran about 6′ 2″ and 215/220 lbs. They were men. We were kids. “Little Davie” ran about 5′ 7″ and 140 lbs. when he was 16.
Well it happened right in front of our bench, David and one of the Gorilla brothers started throwing punches. We started climbing over the boards to help him out. The coach pulled me back onto the bench screaming sit down he’s winning! We all stopped and took a look, sure enough David was peppering the gorilla with punches. The gorilla was bleeding. David continued his attack. The big ape never landed a punch. Bloodied and frustrated he covered his head with his arms and ran to the penalty box. The ref didn’t even have to break it up.
It was the first time we saw Davie fight. In five years the only time! He was a gentle person.
I had hoped that one day we might again meet at summer camp. I guess I took to long to come back to Uechi.
Thought you might enjoy a story of his youth. He’s been gone a long time while, but for me he just left tonight.
thanks for listening George!
With respect and sorrow