From "Warrior" to "Healer": A Former FBI Agent and Army Soldier's New Mission
By Damian Fedorko (
Member of American Tai Chi and Qigong Association)
I have been in the martial arts for over 45 years. I began studying Judo at age 17 in the summer of 1965. In 1969, while working for the FBI, I was introduced to Tae Kwon Do. I practiced what little I had learned until my entrance into the U.S. Army in 1971. In the army, I studied continued my study of Martial Arts.
In 1992, my wife and I relocated to St. Simons Island, GA where I began working at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). I met Dr. Frank Graves and Dr. Robert Natzke, both Hung Gar Masters. Because of their unselfish efforts and leadership, I do what I do today because of them. They are my brothers and mentors.
Since 1997, Tai Chi has become a very significant part of my daily life. By that time, I have come up through the ranks of external martial arts and fought most of the time. I was tired of the bruises, aches, pains and I wasn't getting any younger. I was looking for something new. Then I met Master Kam P. Lee, a Master of Yang Tai Chi Chuan and Doctor of Acupuncture, and Master Yang Yang. They instilled in me the importance of inner health and Tai Chi Chuan. From practicing "Silk Reeling" and the "Five Circles", I could feel the internal energy flowing through my body. After a time, I wanted to do something more with this new-found energy. Just strengthening it and practicing forms wasn't enough. So I searched, again, and found the Iron Palm and Master Brian Gray of Newport, Delaware. I have been with Master Gray for 15 years and I earned the title of Iron Palm Master in March 2000.
Around that time when I discovered the internal power of Tai Chi, what happened in my personal life further propelled my transition from "Warrior" to "Healer". First, my mother passed away. Then, my father wasn't taking care of himself because of my mother's passing, and three years later he also passed away. This hurt me very deeply. A few years later, I learned about Dr. Paul Lam and his Tai Chi for Arthritis program. From that time on, I decided to forget about fighting and placed my focus on the seniors. I felt they needed to use what movement and flexibility they had left in their body and I wanted to get them off the couch and into the practice Tai Chi and Qigong.
My role in the community has been challenging. Ever since 2000, I have been trying to impact my knowledge of strength, overall health, vitality and longevity to the seniors. I have appeared in the Brunswick News several times making seniors aware that they need to exercise and not sit on the couch drinking a martini. I have also had the pleasure of speaking to other martial artists, teenagers and seniors at different function on Tai Chi, Qigong and Iron Palm.
A decade's efforts in doing this have given me great satisfaction and rewards, seeing the elderly benefit from what I have taught them.