On November 19, 1983 I received my first diploma from Sensei Guinee and Master Peter Urban; a certificate welcoming me into the world. I remember when I was only 7 or 8 years old, sitting on a pile of mats in Sensei’s basement watching Sensei, Sensei Falcone and Sensei Lyman train. It was inevitable that I would soon grow to join these role models on the Dojo floor.
That day arrived in 1995 when Sensei opened his Dojo in Thornwood, NY. Sensei decided that the Dojo would be located on the main floor of the Thornwood American Legion, yet there was still a lot of work (and a few more moves) ahead. The space needed to be completely renovated. Eager to help, I remember gutting the entire floor in order to start building the Dojo. At the time, even though my hands were small, I was still very proud to know that I helped build the Dojo where my official karate training began. This work instilled in me the high standards that the USA Goju System has always stood for.
During the next three years I absorbed everything that I could from Sensei and the other Blackbelts; attending as many as six classes a week. As a green belt I remember taking home a 1st place trophy for sparing in a tournament in NYC. But after watching Sensei Lyman take home a trophy sparring black belts half his age with perfect technique and control, I knew I still had a long way to go. Sparring was and still is one of my favorite aspects of my training.
In High School, my athletic activities grew to include cross country, wrestling and track. After balancing this demanding schedule, I made the tough decision in 1998 to focus on my high school activities and ultimately attended college away from home. Although I wasn’t training at the dojo, it was during these years where the confidence, patience and respect for myself and others that I learned in the dojo began to play an important role in my life. After college, in 2006, I came back to train with Sensei as a purple belt with a whole new level of commitment and determination. I knew a significant step as a martial artist was in sight.
In June of 2008, I earned my First Dan and had the honor of joining Sensei and the other Black Belts I have looked up to for the first twenty-four years of my life. For me, the grueling three hour black belt test was symbolic of all the years spent preparing for that day and just the start of what is to come. I earned my Second Dan in June of 2010, where I was again asked to demonstrate a majority of what I have learned as a martial artist. While there are some forces in life that may temporarily derail or direct one down a longer path, I know what Sensei has taught me through Goju Karate will always be a part of my journey. OSS!
Richard Lyman Jr.