I started training in Hawthorne in April 1982. Looking back into my personal diary of my early days, I read some of the same things that many of the students are telling me as a Sensei today. How very difficult it was in the beginning. Reading words like frustrated all sounds so long ago, yet even today learning a new kata is a challenge.
Competition was great! We attended many different tournaments and did quite well. We always seemed to arrive back at our dojo with many trophies. I remember back in 1983, attending the Empire State Karate Championships in Stony Brook, New York. I was then a white belt and after a long day of waiting because the tournament was so large it was my turn to spar. I always loved sparring I guess because I was with someone else, not like doing forms where I was in the ring alone. Anyway after what seemed like a very long match. I came home with a six foot trophy! Sensei Falcone also won a six foot trophy and a few more of us won trophies as well. We went to that tournament in a very small car and had to disassemble the trophies to get them all in the car!
I continued to train, received my green, purple then brown belt, then I “jumped off”. I strongly recommend that each and every one of you read “THE KARATE DOJO” BY Grandmaster Peter Urban. It will inspire all of you in and out of the dojo to live the way of karate. I remained a brown belt for 12 years! I finally started to train again and received my Black Belt on April 23, 1996. I received my 2ndDan on December 17, 1997.
In April 1998 the Dojo, held a benefit for St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital that raised over twelve thousand dollars and being part of the coordination of this was very rewarding. I continued to train and on February 2, 2000, I received my 3rd Dan. Shortly after receiving my third Dan, I had a bout with breast cancer, after chemo and radiation therapy I went back to the place that seemed right, the Dojo. I became quite comfortable in the dojo by this time and felt helpful to Sensei with the training of students. On June 18, 2003, I received my 4th Dan. On October 12, 2005 I received the rank which I hold now, my 5th Dan level.
Through the many years of training I have learned so much about the way. The best thing about the training for me now is to see in student’s eyes that they finally understand it. For me, my biggest reward is to tie an obi on a student that has worked so hard.
Each and every day I wake up I’m thankful for what I had, have and will have in my future. OSS!