Two Tests: One hard, the other, Death-defying




Two tests: One hard, the other, death-defying

With family's support, teenage Michael Snider punches way through cancer before earning jiu-jitsu black belt and prestigious university spot

Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, August 20, 2011

In the meantime, Paul and Ute continued to train at the Purple Dragon dojo. Eventually, Michael joined them, determined to get his black belt.

"I like to think it was me proving to myself that having cancer wasn't the end," Michael said, "that even if the chemo was hard and my knees were killing me, I was going to punch through, I was going to make this."

The family began to train in earnest. They went to the dojo six days a week. They jogged together. They did hot yoga together. They did kick-boxing together.

On July 12, Michael turned 18.

By then, the family was ready, and Paul, Ute, Michael and Nikki flew to Trinidad. The testing lasted four days.

"From the get go, you're under incredible scrutiny," Michael said.

"It was very tough. But it was no tougher than the chemo, I guess. But even if I didn't get my black belt, I figured doing the test was enough for me."

He passed. So did Paul and Ute. The Sniders are now a family of black belts.

"The grading was difficult," Ute said, "but what Michael survived was double in comparison."

In a few weeks, Michael will be leaving for London, Ont. He has been accepted into the University of Western Ontario's prestigious Richard IveySchool of Business.

"We have our son back," Ute said.

"And now he's going away."


Professor Don Jacob in Caribbean Beat Magazine


by Laura Dowrich-Phillips

Professor Don Jacobs builds an international karate empire with his indigenous martial arts system, Don Jitsu Ryu. It was founded in 1970 under a breadfruit tree on Westbury Lane in Belmont, on the eastern side of Port of Spain.

We used to call it Hell Yard. We got some galvanise, covered it over, and called it a dojo. We paid TT$6 a month for the space,” Don Jacob recalls. He was only 15 years old then, and charged students TT$1.50 to learn his martial arts fighting system, which he called Don Jitsu-Ryu. Until he acquired this headquarters, Jacob had traversed Trinidad on a Chopper bicycle which he bought for TT$25, teaching his techniques and gradually realising that he could actually earn a living by doing what he loved.

Today, Professor Don Jacob’s school is called the Purple Dragon International School of Martial Arts, and is preparing for its 40th anniversary in 2010. A movie is in the works, a glossy Purple Dragon magazine is already in circulation, and students are sharpening their skills for the Karate World Tournament which the school will host in Trinidad and Tobago. There are plans for a permanent home for Purple Dragon’s World Headquarters, and for a martial arts museum.

There are twenty branches of Purple Dragon in Trinidad and Tobago now, with more across the Caribbean (in Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, the Cayman Islands, and Tortola), and more in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and England. But Trinidad is still the school’s headquarters.

In 1977, Don Jacob was the first Trinidadian to perform at Madison Square Garden, at the Oriental World of Self-Defense. In 1981, he was inducted by Ju-Jitsu America into the Black Belt Hall of Fame, and in 1986 was the first and only Trinidadian to be mentioned in Al Weiss’s book, The Official History of Karate in America – The Golden Ages 1968-1986.

As a child growing up in the depressed area of Laventille in Trinidad, Jacob had sought refuge in karate as a way of defending himself against bullies. He studied judo with Sensei Clyde Thomas, and after earning his black belt, travelled to the United States to study Ju-Jitsu under the late Grandmaster Moses Powell, and traditional styles with Master Tusui Yoshitaka.