Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series on Federal Way resident Lakota Bisaillon’s martial arts journey to China. Part one can be found in the Sept. 8 edition of the Mirror.
The year 2010 is the reason Bisaillon is currently in China.
It started out incredible. Bisaillon’s mother Mary Delacruz met her now husband, who helped the family get out of the Kent slums and moved into an ideal Federal Way home and neighborhood.
Bisaillon had the means and support to manage his Aspergers and dyslexia. Part of that was discovering martial arts through the Tiger Taekwondo Academy.
Taking up martial arts impart to Bisaillon lessons that Delacruz nor anyone could teach him.
“He is learning very intense forms of self-discipline through the practice,” Delacruz said. “It makes me feel very content for him and his future, even a bit envious.”
Bisaillon needed discipline for what came next.
He idolized his cousin John Brewer, who was 11 years his senior.
Brewer and Bisaillon both shared a passion for art. For Brewer, it was film and music. For his baby cousin, it was martial arts. Brewer had just graduated with his degree in film.
Weeks later, after going on vacation to celebrate, Brewer had a cliff-diving accident in a remote location and broke his neck in several places.
Eventually, Brewer was found by a hiker exploring the area. While the hiker waited for help to arrive, Brewer actually stopped breathing numerous times, but the hiker revived him each time.
For many months doctors worked to keep Brewer alive. When he finally stabilized, doctors told the family that Brewer, who just turned 23, would remain on a ventilator and never regain movement from the neck down.
“His accident was devastating to everyone, especially Lakota,” Delacruz said.
Brewer has battled pneumonia since the accident, which has worsened his lung capacity.
Bisaillon became angry after Brewer’s accident. He could not understand why someone with so much artistic potential could just have it all stripped away so quickly.
“It’s been really hard,” Bisaillon said. “It happened years ago, but it’s something I still deal with.”
He still carries some of that anger seven years later. Martial arts, however, has provided Bisaillon with an outlet, distraction and some degree of peace.
During that time, Delacruz came across the online posting about the school in China.
“I knew the moment she showed me I had to go,” Bisaillon said. “I am grateful my parents felt the same way and helped me pay for it.”
ONWARD AND UPWARD
Bisaillon arrived at the Kunyu Mountain Shaolin Martial Arts Academy in the Shandong Province of China on Jan. 1.
He started training Jan. 4.
The first five days were fairly standard, consisting of conditioning, exercise and practicing different Kung Fu variations. Day six brought the rude awakening, however. It was his first attempt climbing Mount Kunyu to meditate.
Every day, 34th generation Shaolin monks lead his class up the mountain. At the top, they reach the cave where Confucius spent nine years meditating, reflecting on his own mortality. Bisaillon meditates in the cave for 20 minutes.
“I think it feels great to meditate in the cave and can feel a lot of inner peace in there,” Bisaillon said. “I actually try to empty and free my mind.”
In all, training lasts roughly six hours a day. Bisaillon does a cardio regimen in the morning and then works on the class training lessons, followed by afternoon training.
After dinner, he usually lifts weights and completes various calisthenic workouts in the evening.
Since leaving Federal Way, Bisaillon has learned Shaolin Kung Fu, Chinese kickboxing, which incorporates wrestling takedowns, sweeps and throws, and he learned a little Xing Yi. He’s also learned to box and has taken up some Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Bisaillon’s trip to China is more than an opportunity to study abroad.
“I feel eternally grateful,” Delacruz said. “He will have some incredible skills with him for the rest of his life — physical and mental — because of this.”
The 6,025-mile distance between Delacruz and her son has been hard on her, she said.
Not only have they never been apart before, the two have worked through many struggles and tragedies.
Initially, Delacruz planned to go to China with her son. This was a journey, however, Bisaillon wanted to see through on his own.
“I think it’s his self motivation that makes me shine with pride,” Delacruz said. “I feel proud as well as humbled, and I am very, very happy [for him].”
Whether it was fate or luck that brought Bisaillon this opportunity, he has embraced the experience. Not only has his martial arts improved, Bisaillon said he hopes it will prepare him to take on any future challenges that come his way.
“I hope to take away a lot — flow state, chi, more knowledge, more skills, more abilities and more confidence to handle anything,” he said.