In October of that same year, Dugan was in a horrific
accident, falling 30 feet from scaffolding, hitting a large piece of
steel on the way down, then landing headfirst on the concrete below.
In that accident, he suffered multiple injuries including a
fractured skull, broken eye socket, broken cheekbone, broken jaw,
broken palate, shattered nose, bitten tongue, broken neck (three
vertebrae), severely jammed, broken and dislocated finger, nerve
damage to his left arm, broken pelvis (in three places), and a
broken sacrum (the large, triangular bone at the base of the spine).
There is a Japanese proverb that says, "Fall seven times, stand
up eight." For Dugan, standing up was the first step to recovery.
When the accident occurred, Dugan did not lose consciousness. He
said he immediately stood up and kind of brushed himself off.
"As soon as I landed I saw a big white, then I stood up," he
said. "I thought, everything is working. I know I'm banged up, but
everything is working, so now let the healing begin."
What Dugan couldn't see as he stood was his face and head, but
his co-workers could, and they were terrified for him. They quickly
called 911 and convinced Dugan to sit back down. They wrapped his
head as best they could because in the fall he had suffered a cut
that went from the front of his face, over the top of his head and
around to his neck. The skin was pulling away from the skull and he
was bleeding terribly.
This weekend the Yoshukai Alliance had their annual day camp at
Kickapoo Creek Park, and Dugan was there as always, guiding his
students and watching them grow in the art of karate.
Dugan said recovery from his accident can be credited to karate
and the disciplines he has practiced for the last 40 years.
First, he was told by doctors that if he did fully recover from
the accident, recovery would take several months. Dugan said, as is
the practice of the alliance, whatever time you are told it will
take for something to happen, you cut it in half and that becomes
When he arrived at the hospital on the day of the accident, the
first priority was to get the terrible cut on his head stitched back
together. Then, over the next five days, he had two major surgeries.
In the first surgery a titanium plate was placed behind his
shattered cheekbone, reconstruction was done on his nose, and his
palate was repaired.
In the second surgery, the three broken vertebrae were fused
together; two rods, six screws and a plate were used to repair his
His pelvic and sacrum bones had to heal on their own, which meant
that for the first several days, Dugan could not move about. He said
that was where the first lessons of karate came in.
In the art of karate, one of the first steps is to learn to
breathe deeply and properly. Dugan said to help keep from developing
pneumonia, he used this technique several times a day, keeping his
[to top of second column]
He also soon weaned himself off painkillers. The drugs kept him
from thinking clearly; plus, he didn't want that kind of medication
in his system. He soon started refusing the pain meds and started
using the disciplines of karate to absorb and endure pain.
He had been told his recovery time would include 12 weeks of
hospitalization. Doctors estimated four weeks for healing, then an
additional eight weeks for physical therapy. However, Dugan set his
goals, and within two weeks he was out of the hospital bed and
starting to walk about.
At that time he did suffer a little bit of a setback. He ended up
with a few blood clots that put him back in bed for a short period
of time, but again he pushed on and was soon out of the hospital and
recovering at home.
Dugan said once he was at home, he started using the meditation
and exercise methods of karate to rebuild his strength and movement.
Within nine weeks, Dugan was back attending his weekly classes. He
said he moved a little slower, but he was there.
He also noted that the doctors who looked after him said that
what he has practiced over the last 40 years is what kept him alive.
Dugan smiled. "Everyone says I was lucky, but I wasn't lucky,
that fall hurt."
He then added, "I don't want people to think I'm trying to brag;
this is just what I knew to do."
Of course, Dugan also knows he didn't do it alone. He had good
doctors and nurses, and good friends who supported him and helped
him along the way.
He had senseis from other dojos who helped fill in for him in his
weekly classes and spent time with him at home during his recovery.
He also had Sensei Nykol Schreiber who dedicated a lot of time to
caring for Dugan at home, as well as others.
Saturday afternoon as he surveyed his classes going through their
practice, he posed for a picture and said it was just the first 40
years he was celebrating, and that he'd see us again in another 40.
Note: In July of 2011 Dugan's story was published in the
Yoshukai Karate Alliance
publication can be viewed here, but be warned there are several
photos of Dugan's facial injuries that might be too graphic for some
[By NILA SMITH]
From the LDN
archives, July 26, 2010: