Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hall of Fame award

I was sent this by Martin Carey in Ireland this week. It's an "Official International Black Belt Hall of Fame" award for 2008. My thanks again to the folks in Ireland. Much appreciated.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Hampshire, Part 2

Hanshi Richie Bernard came to Steve White's studio as Jack Nilon and I were wrapping up our seminar on the six-step problem solving process which we illustrated through scenarios based on two-man attacks. As we taught how to take a standard technique and apply its parts by splitting them to handle the attack, Hanshi Bernard was patiently waiting in Steve's office.

He came out as we were bowing out the 50+ member class and Mr. White asked them to sit. He introduced his guest as a tenth-degree black belt in traditional Japanese karate and that he had a special recognition for me, one surprised instructor. I should mention at this point what a Hanshi is. The organization he belongs to is the Shidokan International. Shidokan translates as the "House of the Scholar-Warrior who follows the Way". The following description is from his group.

Shidokan International recognizes the growing experience of its members using the traditional teaching titles found in Japan. These titles are earned through dedication to karate and to the dojo, and are recognized around the world:
“Assistant Instructor” - One who assists the teacher on a consistent basis. May be attained below Black Belt.
“Senior Student” - Typically a Black Belt responsible for teaching a class.
“Teacher” - Not only a teaching title, but the most often used term in Japanese to denote teacher.
“One who Knows” - An internationally licensed teacher who takes on major responsibility within a dojo. Typically 4th Dan or higher.
“One who Teaches Teachers” - A teacher who goes beyond his own training and teaching, and helps develop other teachers and other dojos.
“One who Teaches” - Usually 6th or 7th Dan with 20 to 25 years of experience, on the way to becoming a master.
“A Model for the Whole” - Reflects mastery of the physical side of karate, but also the understanding and ability to teach at all levels. This title also recognizes the master's lifelong commitment to living the karate code of conduct in all situations.
Chief Grand Master Instructor-minimum Rank in most cases Kudan (9th Dan)

The recognition was that he appointed me as a Hanshi and performed the traditional ritual that accompanies such an appointment. It is too long to be described here but it was recorded and some of you will be able to see it in the future. What I can tell you is that it came at a significant time in my life and is one of the highlights of my martial arts career. I never aspired to or expected such an honor and it staggers me to be designated as the Shidokan International group is recognized through the Japanese Ministry of Education.
The ceremony was laden with tradition and many points hit home, especially in the light of what has happened with the collapse of the Ft. Myers school here. Hanshi Bernard said that of the five demons that protect a dojo, the biggest, ugliest one is inside overlooking the floor because the biggest threat to a school comes from the inside.
This was a highlight in my martial arts career. Words are not enough.

New Hampshire weekend, Part 1

Jack Nilon and I went up to Manchester last weekend to work with Steve White's group up there. Jack taught a well-received class on Friday night. The subject was non-standard entries to two-man defenses.

As always, our hosts were great. Lee MacDonald took Mr. Nilon to the shooting range with Mr. MacKenzie while Mr. White and I went snowmobiling. It was the first time for me and I had a blast. On Saturday morning before that day's seminars Steve and I went to the Nashua airport to meet Bob Dimeo, a flight instructor Steve had introduced me to a few years ago. Bob has completed building his own airplane, an RV-8, and it's beautiful. The picture here does not do it justice. It looks like a little Mustang. The weather was a bit too cold to go flying and the ramp was covered in ice, but Bob has told me we'll take it up in May when I go back.

The Saturday class was a closed event. It was provided to the teaching team members of three schools by the school owners as an appreciation gift to them. Mr. Bill Gaudette, Mr. Jim Peacock, Mr. Harry Grimm, and Mr. White flew me up to teach at their expense. In my mind, such gestures mean more than money and gifts; experiences usually outlast material things by building character, educating, and broadening people.

Two other black belts of mine showed up, they being Lance Soares of Massachusetts and Tony Velada of Chicago. You can see they enjoyed themselves with Mr. Nilon. That's Lance on the left and Jack on the right.

The seminar was visited by a surprise guest. I'll tell that story next time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fwd: Listening in kenpo class prevented crime

From Tim Walker in Florida.

[ The names in this letter have been changed due to an ongoing criminal investigation.]

January 15, 2009'

To parents, students, prospective students and parents of American Kenpo Karate University:

My name is Jane Doe and my daughter, Janet, has been taking karate from Mr. Walker for 2 years. When Janet is taking class, I sit in the back of the University and study for my college classes. I often stop to watch my daughter in class or to listen to Mr. Walker give the class instruction. One of the things I have always enjoyed the most about Mr. Walker's teaching style is that he will often instruct students on "street-wise" information. I have always enjoyed listening to this information. I never thought that it would one day save me from a violent crime.

On the 5th of this month, I was grocery shopping for a few items in Live Oak. It was latter than I usually go, about 9:45pm. As I was leaving the store I noticed a gentleman standing by his truck on his cell phone. I also noticed in the corner of the porch of the store a young gentleman watching me leave the store. At first I thought he was a worker from the grocery store but then I noticed he did not have on a uniform. I quickly assessed the situation and felt that I should approach the car with caution. If the other man had not been in the parking lot, I would have gone back in the store to ask someone to walk me to my car. I was thinking before I approached the car of what to do. I decided not to open the main part of the car but opened the trunk and quickly threw in the items and my purse as well. As I saw the man approaching, I quickly shut the trunk. I had my keys tightly in my hand with one keys sticking up so that I could use it as a weapon if need be. He asked me if I would give him a lift up town. I firmly said, "No!" and started to walk away. He walked back to the porch and I quickly got in my car and drove off.

Today, a week and a half after the incident, my friend at work showed me a newspaper article where a man at the same store on the same day [15 minutes after the man approached me] had given a man a ride and was robbed at gunpoint. That could have been me!

I am very thankful that Mr. Walker teaches his students to be "street-wise" and I am very glad I listen in class. Thanks Mr. Walker for saving me from an act of violence!

Jane Doe

This parent contacted the police and is helping identify this criminal. The man she mentions in the parking lot by his truck talking on his cell phone ended up being the one to give the younger guy a ride and ended up getting robbed. Someone else was robbed in a similar fashion at night in the WalMart parking lot 2 days earlier and they believe it was the same robber.

What we teach is not just about kicking and punching is it?? Yours in Kenpo, Tim

Timothy Walker, PSTD
4th Degree Black Belt
American Kenpo Karate University, Inc.
Branford, FL

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Why parents drink

Why Parents Drink
The boss wondered why one of his most valued employees was absent but had not phoned in sick one day. Needing to have an urgent problem with one of the main compute rs resolved, he dialled the employee's home phone number and was greeted with a child's
whisper. ' Hello ? '  
'Is your daddy home?' he asked.  
' Yes ,' whispered the small voice.
May I talk with him?' 
The child whispered, ' No .'  
Surprised and wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, 'Is your Mummy there?' ' Yes '  
'May I talk with her?' Again the small voice whispered, ' No '  
Hoping there was somebody with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, 'Is anybody else there?'  
' Yes , ' whispered the child, ' a policeman . '  
Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee's home, the boss asked, 'May I speak with the policeman?'  
' No, he's busy , ' whispered the child.  
'Busy doing what?'  
' Talking to Daddy and Mummy and the Fireman , ' came the whispered answer.  
Growing more worried as he heard a loud noise in the background through the earpiece on the phone, the boss asked,  'What is that noise?'  
' A helicopter ' answered the whispering voice.  
'What is going on there?' demanded the boss, now truly apprehensive. Again, whispering, the child answered, ' The search team just landed a helicopter '  
Alarmed, concerned and a little frustrated the boss asked, 'What are they searching for?'  
Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle¦  
' ME . '

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ft. Myers studio closing

After buying my studio here in Ft. Myers two years ago, Kyle Zwarg is closing it this Saturday. He has mis-managed it to the point of failure.

    People are very upset for many reasons. That studio stood for 17 years in one location. Hundreds, if not thousands, passed through the doors there, with many achieving black belt and higher. Almost all the kenpo in SW Florida can be traced to that school, and I influenced the state of the art throughout the state as well from that studio. The place and the people mean a lot to many and Kyle has caused a lot of anguish with his actions.

  He did some pretty unethical things and I rescinded his license to use my name, stopped teaching there, and have ended contact with him other than what was necessary. I do not stand with him in any way.

   I plan to re-open my studio in another location in Ft. Myers. If you're one of those people who trained there you can contact me at or thru my website contact page at


How Character Sustains Leaders

This was sent by Steve White.

How Character Sustains Leaders by Dr. John C. Maxwell

A critical mistake that I made as a young leader was that I used to think that charisma was the most important aspect of leadership. In the beginning, I focused on charisma because I know that leadership attracts, and leadership influences people. Therefore I thought, "Well, if I'm going to influence people I've got to develop charisma in my life." I've been around enough boring leaders to say that is a desire that most of us should have!

What I learned is that character is the most important aspect of leadership, not charisma. Charisma attracts, but character sustains. In fact, I think charisma, in the area of leadership, is overrated.

Character embodies who you really are. It's the inner fiber of your being. It is your inner self in action. It reveals what you are truly made of, it's your substance. Character is, as D. L. Moody said,
"What you are in the dark."

If you have charisma without character, it's only a matter of time before people find you out. Without character you cannot sustain meaningful relationships, and without relationships your ability to lead and influence others is anemic.

So what is it about character that really makes a difference?

1. Character sets you apart.
 There was a time when people who lacked integrity stood out from the crowd. Now the opposite is true--charisma can make people stand out for a moment, but character can set them apart for a lifetime.

2. Character creates trust.
 Leadership functions only on the basis of trust. If you pull out trust, then you will lose your leadership foundation.  

3. Character promotes excellence.
 If you lead people, good character sets a standard for everyone who is following you. People will eventually become like their leader. If leaders compromise on their standards, cheat the company, or take shortcuts, so will their followers.  

4. Character gives staying power.
 During the tough times that all leaders face, character has the ability to carry you through, which is something that charisma can never do. When you are weary and inclined to quit, the self-discipline of character keeps you going.

5. Character extends influence.
 Charisma, by its nature, doesn't last long or extend very far. It's like a flash of gunpowder. It produces a quick, blinding light, but then it's gone. The only thing left is smoke. Character, on the other hand, is more like a bonfire. Its effects are long-lasting. It produces warmth and light, and as it continues to burn it gets hotter, giving fuel that burns brighter.

If you're currently leading people, you probably have some measure of both charisma and character. The question is which one are you relying on to lead? The answer can be found in your response to this great question, "As time goes by, does it get easier or harder to lead?"

Without character, leadership becomes harder to sustain. You constantly have to perform to get people to notice you; but with character, as time goes by, leadership strengthens, builds, and continues to attract the people. And best of all, the ones who do come to enjoy your fire stay with you a lot longer than the ones who only want to see a show.

-- John Maxwell


Monday, January 12, 2009

Recent losses

Two of my friends and students recently suddenly lost their wives. To them, and in the memory of Laura and Joyce, I offer this.


Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.


I am in a thousand winds that blow,

I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain,

I am the fields of ripening grain.


I am in the morning hush,

I am in the graceful rush

of beautiful birds in circling flight.

I am the shining stars at night.


I am in the flowers that bloom,

I am in a quiet room,

I am the birds that sing,

I am in each lovely thing.


Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there.  I do not die.


Mary Frye,  Baltimore  Maryland,  1932

Friday, January 9, 2009

Follow-up to Teach Your Children Well

This link is a news story about the guy who kidnapped the young boy I wrote about recently. Story forwarded by Tony Velada. Murder suspect 'very sorry'

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

School's Out!

I graduated from the US Air Force Squadron Officer School today. This is the course that captains and majors take prior to being selected for a squadron command. It's a little unusual being a civilian but my membership in the Civil Air Patrol enabled me to take the course. I've spent the last six months studying and taking exams. I found the sections on Professionalism, Leadership, Communications and Management to be particularly useful. I learned a tremendous amount and am working on integrating this new knowledge into my classes and seminars. Much of the military and international studies were interesting but not something I have a use for right now.
I managed to shave 12 months off the alloted time of 18 months by spending an hour each morning reading and watching the online sessions. It's a load off my schedule and now I'm into the next project.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

A news story was broadcast about a 4-year-old boy who was found alone in a rest stop along a highway, no jacket, no shoes, and people all around. One woman, a teacher, made contact with him by waving and got to talking to him. He told her that a man had broken in his home with a gun and killed his mother. The man took him and later dropped him in the rest stop. The boy was able to tell the woman and the police his name, address, phone number, and names of relatives. This information led the police to the boy's home in Ohio, where they found his mother's body. The fact that he knew all the necessary and was cool is a key point. The police said "some taught this boy well". (That the custodian saw him there and didn't do anything is another story.)

     When I was teaching children's classes I would ask kids in the 4-5 year-old class their address and number, etc. I was amazed at how many did not know where they lived. I admonished the parents to insure their children know these things. This little boy's experience bears out how important this is.

    A secondary item is that the father of the by had his car stolen about a week before and it is thought the thieves found contact info in the car and that is what brought them to the house. It's probably not a good idea to keep your ID in your car. That, along with the registration and insurance info, allows someone to find your home easily.  If you have a garage door opener in there it gives them easy access, too.
   Please make sure the kids know these things. If you're an instructor, quiz them. Institute a Kid Smart  type program to make sure. Work with the parents. This is important. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A new American

One of my black belts here in Ft. Myers will take the oath and become a naturalized citizen of the United States this coming week. Carlos Weil is originally from Argentina and has waited 13 years for citizenship. He joins others from my school here who, over the years, have patiently worked to achieve this. They came from Canada, Britain, and Thailand, to name a few, and have a deep appreciation, love and affection for this place that we were born into, a country we may sometimes take for granted.

   My congratulations to Carlos and his family.