I took my first karate class in 1973 at the age of 19 while serving in the United States army at Schweinfurt, Germany. My first exposure to martial arts was American Kenpo taught by warrant officer and 1st degree black belt Al Abejon. I had been a 4-season athlete since the age of 8 and had competed in many contact sports including football, hockey, and lacrosse, but it was karate that grabbed my interest like no other physical activity had before. I loved the extreme physical conditioning and learning to make my body move in challenging and unique ways.
After leaving the service, I spent the next 28 years self-employed and moving up and down the west coast between Los Angeles and Seattle. During this time I had off again, on again periods of martial arts training. I studied Hayashi Ha Shitoryu karate with Hashi Juluis Theroy of Washington Karate Association and took Taekwondo from Master Nhumey Tropp in Seattle. I resumed American Kenpo with Master Jody Sasaki in Oxnard CA, again studied Taekwondo from Master Thomas Ball in Camirrillo CA, and spent a year kickboxing.
Then in 2004 I moved (for what I hope is the last time) to Ellensburg, WA. I heard about Kyokushin Karate during my search for suitable martial arts training. I was looking for something challenging that could help me expand my limits. Considered a hard style, Kyokushin featured extreme conditioning with full contact, no-pad sparring. The rigorous conditioning was exactly what I was looking for, but full contact at the age of 50…I was less sure about that!
After a great conversation with Shihan Ian Quitadamo, who told me to take the contact as far as I felt comfortable, I started training with him in that summer. Almost 14 years later, I have now been training for the longest continuous stretch of time in my life. Kyokushin was the style I had always looked for, and I felt like I had found a place to call home. Designed by its founder Sosai Mas Oyama, Kyokushin pushes a person past any perceived physical and mental limits. At different times I have blessed and cursed the challenges Kyokushin has provided for me, but I have never lost sight of the fact that I am part of a dojo family, and my Kyokushin brothers and sisters are now a permanent part of my being.