I started my training in September of 1999. Like all white belts, I threw my strikes way too fast and with no control or accuracy. As I continued training, the Dojo became a sanctuary for me. Each time I entered, I found myself always learning something positive, either about my training, or more importantly about the moral character of myself. It was a cleansing of my mind, body and spirit. When I would leave the Dojo, I was always amazed at how different each class seemed, but in reality they were all part of a highly structured learning system. I felt if I missed a class, I wouldn’t have enough pieces to finish this massive “puzzle” I started.
By now, “Goju Karate” had “seeped” into my veins. I was doing palm-heel strikes and circle palm blocks as I drove to work. In the shower, I was pulling my toes back and throwing sidekicks at the tile. While on vacation, one of the first things I would do was figure out where the best place on the resort was to practice my katas.
On March 26, 2008, I received my brown belt. It was also when I came to this realization: I was no longer taking karate to get in shape. In fact, I was getting in shape to perform karate properly. I began to think it was now my responsibility to show what I had learned over so many years to others. What could be better than that?
On June 2, 2010, Sensei tied a first degree black belt around my waist. It was truly an honor! One way to express the evolution of my training would be to compare it to a scene from “The Wizard of Oz”. As an under belt, I entered the Dojo and could only see things in black and white. Now, when I bow in as a black belt, I see everything in color!
Lastly, I would like to thank my Dojo brother and best friend, Mr. Glen Schrank, 3rd Dan, for introducing me to the “way of karate” during a pretty tough time in my life. If not for him, I may have never found myself or my Dojo family.
Robert “Bobby” Muranelli