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 Tucson, AZ phone book for something completely unrelated, a little red add caught my eye. Surely it was just a coincidence.
After watching two self defense 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.