It is with great sadness and heavy heavy hearts that we had to say goodbye to our dear friend and teacher Murray Melville on January 15, 2012.
Sensei Murray founded Willowtree Martial Arts and was its chief instructor for over a decade, holding a 5th degree black belt in Goshin Aiki-Jujitsu. In his honour we are continuing its traditions and teachings.
Murray Melville’s Biography
By the time Murray was in his late twenties, he had been exploring various facets of the ‘wild and angry young man lifestyle’ for a while, and he was feeling the consequences. A doctor told him to eat well, to exercise, and to stop some other practices. Murray listened. He phoned several gyms. They were all too expensive; still, he was determined to get into shape.
Soon after, during the summer of 1980, Murray was walking by the Moss Park Armoury at Jarvis and Queen. The members of the local Hatashita dojo were working out there on the lawn. Murray joined in. Mike McCartney, remembers looking out at the group and seeing an unfamiliar little guy at the end of the line. That guy just kept showing up. When the martial artists returned to their dojo in the fall, they had a new member. In fact, Murray met his beloved late wife Pat at Hatashita, and two other couples who met there also married during those early days. Some life-long friendships were formed there also.
Murray became a dedicated student and beloved Sensei himself. During the next thirty years, which encompassed the rest of his life, he continued to study and practice various styles, and to learn Martial Arts philosophies. Murray studied with Shihan Ric Cameron for over twenty years, and more recently with Sensei Larry Mitchell. As a fifth dan, he became a certified Black Belt Instructor with the World Kobudo Federation in 2007 and volunteered as a Martial Arts Instructor at Cabbagetown Youth Centre for some years.
Although Murray probably felt unwell during his last weeks, he never complained or considered missing a class. For a little over a week, a quickly diminishing supply of headache pills kept being replenished. Later, doctors told us that the type of brain tumour from which Murray died is a ‘silent killer’. It shows almost no symptoms until the very end, when nothing can be done.
Murray strived to live by the principles of Eastern philosophy. He almost always succeeded. Some of the martial artists who visited the hospital said they loved working out with him because he was such a fine man, with a good heart, and a gentle being—all true. Others admired him because time and time again, he was willing to let go of what he knew and begin learning from a new starting point. A few people said “Murray the Flurry”, the amazing stick fighter, was wonderful because he brought some much-needed laughter into the dojo. Murray brought love and laughter with him everywhere he went.
Throughout Murray’s life, he, along with the whole Melville clan, faced one terrible loss after another. Those tragedies were no-one’s fault, but they were every Melville’s burden. The whole family loved music, laughter and each other. They helped one another through tough times. We follow Melville’s traditions to honour our late sensei.