I want to thank you for everything you have done for me over the last eighteen years.
Twenty years ago I was going through a lot of changes. I had been discharged from the Marine Corps early for flat feet as well as going through a separation and divorce from my first wife. I had come to Arizona for a "short" visit with my parents to clear my head and find a new direction.
I remember one evening I was sitting in the back yard talking to my father about how I wasn't ready. Ready for what I didn't know, but I knew if I was ever called upon that I was not ready.
Then in July of 1997 while flipping through the phone book for something completely unrelated, a little red add caught my eye. Surely it was just a coincidence.
After watching two classes , the first was taught by Amy Young, the second by you, I knew that even though I hadn't been looking for a martial art to train in, I had found what I was looking for.
I dove in with both feet. I trained as much as I could; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. I trained at class, at home at work, I trained anytime I had a free moment. I remember practicing while reading a novel. I trained so often that when Monday classes were added I was told by one instructor to not attend, because they didn't want me to burn out.
After fifteen months I took my first blackbelt test, and I failed. So I kept at it and two months later, November 1998, I tested again and earned my sho-dan rank. Up to that point that was the hardest part, then I was told I now had to teach.
Once I was in front of students and passing on your teachings, I realized how little I knew. So I avoided and put off every promotion as long as could after that. However everytime I got comfortable you seemed to sense it and promote me again, and forced me to grow again.
Once I made yon-dan I decided that rank didn't matter, at least to me, my technique or skill didn't magically become better because I had a new rank. And while that is partly true, it is also a lie. After eight years of being a yon-dan I had fallen into that same trap, I was well beyond comfortable in my rank.
The only reason I traveled to Japan to test for go-dan is because you wanted me to, as my teacher I respect you greatly and strive to not have my actions reflect poorly on you.
Because of your instruction, both in the dojo and on the range, I have become a better person, husband, and teacher. And while only God knows if I am ready for that moment that I may called upon. I know, unlike twenty years ago, that I can put my faith in what you have taught me as well as Gods will, and I will go forward with out fear.
Thank you again for everything.
"The Yamaneko Dojo provides an enjoyable, yet powerful, environment to fortify our lives as individuals and as a family unit. The benefits that we have experienced from training with the dojo as a family aren't easily captured by words; we've shared rigorous challenge, witnessed amazing feats, felt the support of our teachers and peers, and grown together in skill and spirit. Prather Shihan is a gifted master teacher and this is clearly apparent both in the depth of the teaching and in the examples set by his senior students and instructors.
If you are looking for a constructive environment, physical conditioning, practical defensive skills, the tradition and profound depth of ancient Japanese martial arts, or just to spend some quality time around good people, the Bujinkan Yamaneko Dojo has this to offer."