Jammie Weagle, an instructor in the martial art of Shin Thai, demonstrates a throw on Jay Crocker, one of his students. As Weagle hasn’t been offering classes for that long, all his students “are still beginners” in Shin Thai, though many of them are already veterans of another discipline, Jeet Kune Do. – John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca
By John DeCoste
Jammie Weagle says becoming involved in martial arts literally changed his life.
“If it wasn’t for Shin Thai, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he says.
Weagle, a Digby native who now lives in Kings County, teaches Shin Thai at Kirby Smart’s Jeet Kune Do studio in North Kentville. He describes Shin Thai, in which he holds a Black Belt, as “an elite, close-quarters, hand-to-hand, combat submission fighting system created from a number of different styles.”
Specifically, it combines Krav-Maga, American Ken-Po, Pankration and Pradal Serey.
A fighting system that is “constantly evolving,” Shin Thai was created by two brothers, Shin and Thai Mok, who were living in Ontario at the time.
Weagle started Shin Thai in 1990, studying under both brothers. He was awarded his Black Belt in the discipline in 2005.
He admitted he was “a bit of a troublemaker” growing up, always looking “to pick fights with people.” Once, he “picked a fight with the wrong person,” but it ended up changing his life. He was taken under the Mok brother’s wing and taught the principles of Shin Thai. When he got into it, he says, it turned his life around completely.
“The mental, physical and spiritual training has become a way of life for me. I feel I’ve grown a lot because of it, and I feel it’s made me a better person,” he said.
“With martial arts, you’re always growing as a person.”
Among other things, he adds, “it teaches you to give and earn respect.”
The other thing that has helped Weagle is meeting Smart. While his martial arts focus on Shin Thai is different from Smart’s Jeet Kune Do, the two have struck up a kind of partnership, sharing studio space and even some of the same students.
“It’s kind of funny,” Weagle says. ”Even though it’s two different disciplines, and I’ve never taught before, I recognize Kirby as my mentor.”
Right now, Weagle offers Shin Thai instruction to students several days a week. It’s a contact martial art, he says, so students should expect the odd bruise or two.
“It’s not just learning how to defend yourself, it also teaches you how you can help others. Not that you’re going to deliberately go out and look for situations, but if you should encounter something, you’ll be prepared,” he said.
For more information on Shin Thai, Weagle can be reached by phone at 825-7074.