Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I have studied martial arts off and on for a good deal of my life. As a teenager, I took Judo at the YMCA from Sensei Santoya, a large, gruff but terrific teacher who intimidated the heck out of me (and whose son Teddy I had a mad crush on). Later in college I took Judo again, but found the level of instruction to be much lower, the testosterone quotient much higher, and the injury rate in the class too high for my liking (including my own broken toes).

When I worked at Microsoft, I started studying Goju-Ryu karate with Sensei Brent Hartwig, who was an excellent instructor. I really enjoyed the classes and improving my karate, beginning to learn kata, etc. but a former knee injury (skiing) came back to haunt me and I eventually had to quit again. Round kicks were my downfall.

So fast-forward to three years ago when I started training in Shūdōkan karate here in Oregon. I wasn't yet sure if my 39 year old body could take what my 16, 20, and 24 year old body couldn't, but I wanted to try. At any point I knew I might have to cut it short again. But I remembered in all of my martial arts studies looking up to the people who had achieved brown and black belts, seeing how proficient they were, and wanting to achieve that same level of proficiency.

Now I'm 42, and this morning I received my brown belt. I couldn't be prouder or happier to have made it to this milestone. I now have a year or more in front of me in which I'll be preparing for my black belt. I know it's still a long road, but this time I'm pretty confident that I will make it there, and hopefully beyond. I would like to keep martial arts in my life from now on.

I'm also incredibly proud of my kids, both orange belts/brown stripe. Besides their own proficiency in karate, which is important to me because one day it could even save their lives, I am proudest of their Excellent marks in the class in Confidence, Effort, Respect, Attitude, and Citizenship, and of the fact that our sensei remarked about how respectful they are to me and to each other in class as well. It's not always easy for a kid to study something alongside their parent, so I'm very grateful that it has worked out so well for all of us.


penney said...

Congratulations. I find stories of achieving long term goals very inspiring. It's also pretty cool to watch people meet their goals, especially when they are your own kids. Well done, to all of you.

Kendallprojects (Jason) said...

Congratulations!!!! I have to say that I am thouroghly IMPRESSED! Triathlon, family, and martial arts! Not mention the swim coach stuff you do!
I am an avid student of the theory and writtings behind martial arts. The way of the samurai, the bushido code, the art of war etc.. have been constant readings within my spirtual/ physical training.
Hats off once again, and I hope that I can achieve balance in my life as well as you have when I become a father!

Big Daddy Diesel said...


Matt Getting said...

congratulations, that is quite an achievement

hak said...

Well done!

I've followed a similar path and am about two years behind you on the return to the black belt journey.

It is truly a great art to study and expose children to.

Kylie said...

What a great feeling! Congrats :)