IAMA Salutes John Millard

The Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts Salutes John Millard for his work with brain-injured survivors in Vancouver, British Columbia.

John began the self-defense club about five years ago, and developed it into a Karate Club.  Officially established in March 2004, the Lower Mainland Brain Injury Karate Club has around 10 students.  They meet once a week, and there is no charge for the club.

To contact John, e-mail him at: john@cheshirehomes.ca

Cory You Made Us Proud

IIMAIA Instructor Cory “The Mongoose” Nishi, with and dignity and respect for the art of Muay Thai , fought with heart, courage, tenacity, honor and respect for the Art!  He showed first class sportsmanship and represented all of us, and the Thai Boxing Association, with honor.

Coming to the ring In the blue corner, wearing black trunks Wai Kru dance before the match Punching to the head
Pulling Back Someone blocking something Incoming Weeeeeeeeeee!
The good The bad The ugly The Mongoose
Result And the winner is….The other guy!

Hello 2007!

written by Clay Johnson

Hi everyone. We are now two months into 2007. I hope everyone is doing well. This article is my first of the year. The Martial Artists With Disabilities page is close to turning 3 years old now. I just want to give you some news about upcoming happenings for this page.

A new article titled, “Ying/Yang” by Joe Singleton, is up now and it’s great! It’s getting lots of hits. Glen Leonard has a new article in the works. It may be a while before he is finished writing it, because, see, Glen broke his leg late last year. (I can’t remember which leg he broke.) He’s now recovering at home. If you get a chance, drop him an e-mail. I’m sure he would like that. Here is his e-mail address: gileonard2@verzion.net.

I have a favor to ask of the readers of this page: if you have a question or an idea for an article, please e-mail me, Glen, Ken, or Joe. We would be glad to help. For myself, I have some ideas for upcoming articles, including an interview I did with Guro Dan Inosanto while I was at the Inosanto Academy for an instructor’s camp last fall. It was great fun to interview Guro Dan. He is very giving of his time, and I would like to thank him for taking the time.

I have one last thing to say before I close this article. As we are now into 2007, I can’t help but remember I started my teaching career 20 years ago this coming March 1st. I would like to say thanks to those of you who have visited this page over the last 3 years. Again, any suggestions are welcome.

Ying / Yang

written by Joseph L. Singleton

Both an able-bodied person, who is a martial arts instructor, and a disabled person, who is a martial arts instructor must comprehend the knowledge, the philosophy, and the attitude of the martial arts to be a good instructor.  They (the able-bodied and disabled instructors) do these in different ways.  First, of all, the knowledge of an able-bodied person who is a martial arts instructor, and the knowledge of a disabled martial instructor includes diversity in martial arts.  For example, the able-bodied instructor demonstrates skills by mimicking the physical movements used in martial arts, like seeing a reflection in the mirror of a graceful  ballerina.  However, the disabled instructor’s knowledge is a “conceptional view.”  For this reason, the disabled instructor’s view is like following instructions step-by-step in a “how-to” book.  Despite this, the able-bodied instructor’s ability to participate fully with the student, or the disabled instructor’s lack of mobility with the student has nothing to do with the knowledge of the instructor.  Each instructor can take a student like a piece of molding clay, and create a piece of art.

The philosophy of an able-bodied instructor, and a disabled instructor can be different.  For example, the principle that martial arts is important, but not the most important aspect of a person’s life, could be the cornerstone of the able-bodied instructor’s philosophy.  On the other hand, the disabled instructor’s theory is that breaking down physical, architectural, behavioral, and mental barriers, is part of the training in martial arts.

Most importantly, the able-bodied instructor, and the disabled instructor should  have concerned attitudes as instructors. For example, the able-bodied instructor’s attitude about martial arts might simply be, “If you are not having fun, you are not doing it right.”  Yet, the disabled instructor’s attitude about martial arts is that the four-letter word can’t
is a defeat!

To summarize, the knowledge, the philosophy, and the attitude of the able-bodied instructor and the disabled instructor should be shared in theory, and practice by both instructors —

Cleber Luciano Wins World Championship

At the 2006 World Championships of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Cleber Luciano took first place in the Black Belt Division.

Congratulations Cleber!

Congratulations To Jesse Kristofferson

On Saturday, Sepbember 2, 2006, Jesse Kristofferson of the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts, made his first appearance in the world of kickboxing.  The fight was held at Kru Rex’s Gym in Van Nuys, California.

Prior to the fight’s beginning, while the fighters were weighing in, Jesse had his first look at his opponent.  It was clear from the difference in the two fighters’ appearancess that Jesse would have his work cut out for him: his opponent had already tasted the ring several times and felt that Jesse would not give him any problems.  This mistake became evident in the first seconds of the fight.  Although Jesse felt a little intimidated, he set the pace from the moment the bell rang.

Jesse followed his instructions to the “T.”  He touched gloves, took one step back and unloaded his rear leg into his oppponent’s thigh, immediately following up with a straight right cross to the nose, shoving the other figher back into his  corner.  The first attack was just the beginning of his opponent’s problems.  Jesse continued his attack with a barrage that ended when the referee stopped him, allowing the other fighter to escape.  There was shock and disbelief written all over his opponent’s face, as well as blood flowing from his nose.  That was how most of round one continued until its end.  Jesse kept his distance and went on to press several more attacks at will.  During this round, and the two that followed, Jesse utilized a number of knee attacks that truly took the wind out of the other guy, placing him either into a corner or against the ropes, forcing the referee to separate the two fighters.  The only time that Jesse had any difficutly was in the third round, when his head gear slipped, rendering him blind for approximately twenty seconds.  Seeing this, his opponent landed two overhand right combos, dazing Jesse momentarily.  Unfortunatley, this wasn’t enough to save the opponent: Jesse finished the third round once again in control of the ring.  At the end of round three, there was no one at this fight who would dispute who won.

As anyone who has fought would agree, this was no “walk in the park” for Jesse.  He had to work from within himself to overcome any fear he had of his opponent, put insecurity aside and take control of the situation.  That’s exactly what he did from beginning to end.


This One’s For You, Mom & Dad

written by Clay Johnson

This article is about what I have been through in the last year and a half and how my martial arts training and family and friends have helped me get through one bad thing after another. As many of you know from reading my article, “Parents,” my father passed away on January 13, 2005. On that day. my life changed more than I can ever tell you. Any time someone close to you dies, you can’t believe the pain. This was especially true for my mother; you see they had been married for 49 years. They were each other’s back up system. The day my dad died it was like someone had taken a pin and let all the air – or life – out of my mom. It was very hard for me, my girlfriend, Kimlee, and my sisters, Ann and Kandi, to watch. For me, it was especially difficult because I had lived with my parents all my life. I made up my mind that I was going to do my best to help my mother through this time. I would be there if she needed me.

I think we were all numb for the first few months after my dad’s death. My mom went in o hospital several times that year due to pneumonia. Part of this was because she had lung and respiratory problems from years of smoking, even though she stopped smoking in 1997. Also, mom had been on oxygen at night for years. As a result of this, I decided to spend as much time with her as I could. The only time I left her was to teach my classes, and once in awhile catch a movie with Kimlee. I tried to help her as much as I could with such things as taking care of monthly bills, and if something needed fixing around the house, I would ask one of my students to help out.

In the spring of last year, I took mom to the doctor because she was having some trouble breathing. They took an X-ray and found that she had pneumonia and put her in the hospital again for a week. While she was in the hospital one of her doctors suggested that she try respiratory therapy because he thought it would help her get her strength back and build breathing endurance. The respiratory therapy was 3 days a week for 12 weeks. The only hospital in the area that offered respiratory therapy was Bath County Hospital, which was about 20 miles from our home. I took my mom to therapy most of the time. I would go in with her and watch her work out.

One day, one of the therapists asked me if I wanted to do the same exercises mom was doing. I said sure, so I wouldn’t just be sitting there watching. In the beginning, the therapy was hard for my mom, and two bouts of pneumonia had left her very weak. As the weeks of therapy passed, mom got stronger and stronger and she was breathing much better. She was confident in herself once again, and I thought mom was going to get back to where she was heathwise before my dad’s death. She was much happier than she had been in months. Unfortunately, during her tenth week of therapy, mom was working on a rowing machine and pulled a muscle in her upper back. At that time I thought it might take a few weeks to a month for her back to heal, and I could get her back to therapy, but that would never happen.

One night, mom got up to use the restroom, slipped, and fell back-first against the toilet, which resulted in her having a compression fracture of two vertebrae in her upper back, and about a week’s stay in hospital, which included the Thanksgiving holiday. These setbacks were very hard on her because she had came so far with her therapy. I tried to keep her upbeat, but it was not easy. Since my dad passed away, I had been staying up at night to listen in case she needed something. This wasn’t hard for me because I don’t sleep well anyway. When I did make it to bed late, I would check to see if mom was ok. Most of the time she was asleep, but sometimes she was awake and she would ask me to get her a Coke or just come and talk with her awhile. She would say, “When I’m gone I want you to go have some fun. Take a trip or do something you have been wanting to do, because you have been looking after me since your daddy died.” I told her that I felt that I was not a great help to her. She got upset because I felt this way. I also told her, “You are not going anywhere if I can help it. “

January of 2006 rolled around, and mom wanted to try therapy again at our local hospital. She wanted me to do therapy with her, but my therapy was going to be stretching my legs and hips so it would be easier for me to get my shoes on by myself. Mom did therapy for a few weeks, then decided she couldn’t do it anymore because it wore her out breathing-wise. I continued to go for the stretching, and even though it was very painful, I hoped it would help me in the long term. Towards the end of January, I noticed mom was having more trouble breathing. I told her I was going to take her to see her doctor, but she said she had an appointment to see him later in the week. I said ok, but I thought she needed to see him sooner. One morning, I checked on her and she was in very bad shape, so I called my sister, Ann, who is a nurse and my girlfriend Kimlee, who is an OR tech, because I didn’t think she had much time left. When they got here, Ann said we taking mom to the hospital. Mom’s doctor met us there and checked her over. He said that it was pneumonia again.

This time she was in the hospital for 13 days. Mom got to come home around the first of February, but her doctor told her she had to have help around the clock help because she was still very weak and not too steady on her feet. I had someone come in and stay with her during the day, then my girlfriend and sisters would take turns staying at night to help her if she needed it.

On the morning of February 8, 2006 my mother died in her sleep, in her own bed at home, like she had wanted. My sisters woke me to give me the news. I knew it was coming, but it still hurt. I knew that my mother was in a better place with no more pain, and she was with my father, where she had wanted to be for a long time. The next few days were very hard for us all. I remember thinking to myself, Both mom and dad are gone, what am I going to do with them not here anymore? I have to thank all of my friends and students and friends of own family for their condolences and prayers at the time that it meant a lot. Lucky for me, I have Kimlee, whom I’ve been with since 1981, and my sisters, because I would have never realized how much I would need them in the weeks and months to come.

After my mother’s funeral, I felt like I had to go on with my life; that my mom wouldn’t have wanted me to sit at home and be so sad. I thought the best way to do this was to go back to what I normally did. One of these things is teaching, and another was stretching therapy. So on Thursday, February 16, 2006, one week and a day after my mom’s death, I had my last stretching therapy appointment. That morning a friend – Jerry Entsminger, whom I met while I was just getting started in karate years ago – came to visit. He’d heard about my mom’s death. He had come from California, where he now lives, to visit me and another friend he grew up with who was dying of cancer. Jerry wanted to visit with me for the whole day because he hadn’t seen me in several years. I told him I had an appointment, and he offered to take me. Then he planned on taking all my classes that night. While I was at therapy, everything was going like it normally did, until the last stretch of the day (which required me having to sit up on the edge of the therapy table and put my left foot on my right knee and push my left knee down slowly for the stretch). I had done this stretch for a month or so, and it was a very painful stretch for me. This time, I heard a bone in my left leg snap. It was my left femur and it had broken in two places. The therapist who was stretching me thought I had a dislocated hip at first, but I knew something had gone wrong because the sound in my body was like a shotgun going off. Then the wave of pain came. I didn’t pass out, but I had a death grip on that table. I remember thinking to myself, What the hell else can happen to me this year, and, I’m going to be late getting to class and I will probably never be able to walk again with my crutches. My therapist called the emergency room and they came and put me on a stretcher and took me to the ER. All this time, Jerry really didn’t know how to help or what to do, but he stayed with me the whole time, and I thank him for that. Before I left physical therapy, I asked them to call Kimlee, who was still working upstairs in the operating room, and let her know what had happened.

I have to say here and now that my broken leg was purely an accident. I don’t blame anyone for it happening. When I got to ER, they put me in an examining room.

While I was waiting to go to X-ray, Kimlee and a friend she works with came downstairs. When I saw the worried look, and the tears in her eyes, I started to cry, not because I was in pain, but because I felt like I was causing too much trouble for everyone. By then both of my brothers- in-law and my sisters were there. I don’t remember how or when they got there. I asked one of my brothers-in-law to go to my school and put a sign on the door telling what had happened, and that the school would probably be closed for some time. When I returned from X-ray, my orthopedic doctor, Dr. Weidman (who is also a good friend of the family) looked at my X-rays very carefully. He and his colleagues were trying to decide how to proceed. The problem was that I had, and still have, a curvature in my femur. Dr. Weidman decided to call a friend of, his Dr. Edwards, an orthopedic specialist from Roanoke, Virginia. Dr. Weidman explained the situation and Dr. Edwards said to send me over to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where he would probably operate on me the next day. Then the doctors explained what was going to be happening. They had to straighten and splinter and immobilize my leg so that I could be transported by ambulance to Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

When I got to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, I was taken to the ER. Dr. Edwards came in and examined me. He said he would operate on me the next day. They found me a room and got me into bed, but not before putting a weight on my foot to keep the leg straight and they gave me something so I could sleep. Kimlee, Ann and Kandi had followed me over in their own cars. The next day, we were all a little scared, not knowing how things were going to turn out. The operation to repair my leg took about an hour and half. They put a piece of thallium rod, about 24 inches long, in my femur, with two screws at the top of and two screws at the knee to hold it in place so the bone would grow back right, and my leg would have added support. The hospital physical therapist had me up, bearing weight on my leg the next day, while I tried to walk with crutches. I didn’t have much success because it was very painful. The only side effect from surgery was from the anaesthesia, which makes me sick: I had a very bad case of hiccups off and on for four days – more on than off!

The next time I had physical therapy, the therapist had me try the parallel bars. This time I did much better. I walked six feet, but it was very painful. I used the parallel bars each day until I left the hospital. I was there five days total, then transferred to the Roanoke Memorial Rehab Center because Dr. Weidman said I would probably need rehab to get back on my feet and walking again. Dr. Weidman asked Dr. Stelmack (who is head of the rehab center and good friends with Dr. Weidman) to come and see me, and he did while I was still in the hospital. Dr. Stelmack said I would probably be in rehab 2 weeks, and when I got to go home, I would have to stay on one floor and have help around the clock for a month or more.

When I got to the rehab center, my sister, Ann, helped me get squared away. I got to meet the people who were going to be helping me. I didn’t start any of my therapy until the next day. I was in rehab for three weeks, and my schedule was about the same everyday: get up in the morning, get dressed, go eat breakfast, go to occupational therapy for an hour and then go to physical therapy for an hour, and then go to lunch. The schedule was the same in the afternoon. Sarah Grogan was my occupational therapist. She was great because she knew I had been a very independent person before I got hurt and it was really hard for me to do simple things, such as getting myself dressed. Sarah taught me little tricks to make this easier. She also helped me learn to transfer easier (like from my wheelchair to the bed, etc).

The whole occupational staff was great to work with. My physical therapist, Angela Gitner, understood that I had been very independent before I got hurt, and it was hard on me because I had to learn how to walk all over again. First, she started me on light stretching and walking with the parallel bars. I walked on the parallel bars for about a week, then the rest of the time I was there I used a walker.

One day, I asked Angela point blank if she thought I would ever be able to walk with crutches again. She said, “Sure you will; it will just take time.” Just like the occupational staff, all of the physical therapy staff helped me all along the way, and I have to thank them for that. They had me laughing everyday. For instance, one day I was telling Angela about the plastic surgery done on my left ear when I was a child. I told her that they had taken skin from my belly, left leg and butt to build my left ear. Without missing a beat, Angela rubbed my ear with her finger and said, “Guess this means I’m rubbing your butt.” I said, “I guess so,” and we both laughed. Another time, Angela wanted to put me on a freestanding table. The freestanding is used for weight bearing and stretching, and you can’t fall while you are locked into the table. Angela knew I wasn’t to sure about getting on the table, so when they got me up in it, she pulled me around and said, “Let’s dance.” The table has wheels on it, and we “danced” for about a minute. I laughed and felt better about being in that table.

Right before I got to come home, Angela had me walking on crutches with help; it was hard, but I did it. I don’t trust people right away as a rule, but both Sarah and Angela cared enough to make me believe that I could walk and be independent again. I had almost given up on myself, until I got mad at myself and had to prove that could do it. I learned something valuable in rehab: my troubles were not as bad as those of many others. There were people there with much bigger problems than mine. A lot of them came from car accidents, some had strokes, and some had gunshot wounds to the head. I made friends with most of them. One day while I was in physical therapy, Angela told me that I had helped someone without knowing it. One of the guys who was with me in therapy didn’t like to do his therapy (stretching & walking, etc.) because he said it hurt too much. I would push myself to the limit of what I could do at the time, while trying to walk or do anything I was asked to do – painful or not. He saw me doing it without quitting, so he starting working out because of what he saw in me.

Two of the hardest things about rehab were that I was a “fall precaution risk,” so I would have to ask for help to go to the rest room, etc., and this was very hard on me because I’m very independent. The other thing was being bored when the day of therapy was over, or on the weekends. We only had a half a day of therapy on Saturday and no therapy on Sunday and you can only watch so much TV. Kimlee and my sisters came to visit me as much as they could. They would bring new clothes to wear and mail from home, and take my dirty clothes home to be washed. Kimlee would try to come see me two or more times a week after she got off work in the afternoon. Ann would do the same, but her days off are different each week, so she was able come spend the day a few times and watch me in therapy and meet my therapists. My training partner, Chip Reves, came to see me a few times. Once, he brought some sticks and we trained in the dayroom.

I came home on March 15, 2006. Remember, I said they told me when I came home I would have to stay on one floor for a month? I stayed in the basement. I rented a hospital bed, and the bathroom in the basement was already set up for me. I also had to have someone with me all the time, around the clock. Kim and Ann took turns staying at night, and one of my students and good friend, Tim Presley, stayed with me during the day.

I had to continue my physical therapy when I came home. The place I picked to continue was Highlands Therapy and Industrial Rehabilitation in Covington, Virginia. The staff there was great to work with. I went for about a month and a half, two times a week. I have to thank Mark McCoy, Libby McCoy and Christina Callahan for all they have done for me during my rehabilitation.

During this time, my mom’s sister, Aunt Nancy, came to visit for a week to help and give everybody a little break. It was really great to have her visit. I have to really thank Aunt Nancy, because she took me anywhere I needed to go. She fixed my meals, helped me with my stretching exercises, and lots of other sthings. In April, I started going outside and walking with my walker at a park near my house. I would do laps on an old skating ring track with Tim holding onto me by a gate belt to keep me from falling. Tim told me one day while we were walking. “ I think you are ready to try your crutches the next time we walk.” I said I’d try, and I did use my crutches the next time I walked, and I did better than I thought I would. Libby from therapy wasn’t even planning on starting me back on crutches until May 1st, but I beat her to it by about two weeks. Around the beginning of May, Libby said she was “graduating me” from therapy because I didn’t need it anymore: I was already ahead of schedule with walking on my crutches again. Libby also said I could still come in and use the total gym and the leg press machine and get lightly stretched once in a while.

There was one nice thing that happened this year: in April I was inducted into the American Freestyle Karate Association Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement. I think my parents would have been proud of me.

During times of trouble you find out who your real family and friends are, and I sure found out who they were and were not. I have to give a big thank you to three of my black belts: Wayne Rumfelt, Dwayne Rumfelt and Kemper Murray for keeping my school open and running while I was recovering. Without them I would have probably lost my school. I thank everyone who visited me, or called to check on me while I was in the hospital and rehab. It meant a lot to me. I also want to say a big thank you to Guro Dan and Simo Paula Inosanto and Simo Paula’s sister, Carmen, for the phone calls when both my parents died and for all the get well cards and phone calls I got from them when I got hurt. If that doesn’t say “Family” I don’t know what does. I love them dearly.

It’s been six months since my mom died and got I hurt. I’m almost back to 100%. Kimlee is staying with me now and I know mom and dad would have liked that.

Some people may wonder what this article has to do with martial arts. It has a lot to do with martial arts. If it weren’t for that training, I might not have had the strength and stamina to make the “comeback.” Also, the friends within the martial arts “family” who helped me played an important role in my recovery.

Editor’s Note: “It is our hope that this article will be an encouragement and inspiration to anyone who has gone through very difficult traumatic times.” Clay Johnson has overcome many, many obstacles in his life. I am proud to know him, and proud to have him as a friend. CPB

I Would Have Never Thought

written by Clay Johnson

It has been about two years since Simo Paula Inosanto ask me to help her start The Martial Artist with Disabilities Page on the Inosanto website. I have written 4 articles so far, and this one being the fifth one. Three of my friends who also are martial artist with disabilities also have written articles or bios for this page. They are Lakan Guro Joe Singleton, Ken Chun, and Glen Leonard.

I have to admit at first that for myself I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I had to write about or say. And for the first few months I thought I was right then I started getting an email or two from people saying they enjoyed my first article. Then over the last 6 months to year I have gotten emails from all over the place even from England with some just saying we enjoy your articles and keep up the good work to some asking “can you help me find a teacher willing to teach me even though I have a disability”. Lucky with Simo Paula help I have been able to help them find the right teacher willing to take up the challenge, then some have ask for advice on how train because there are no instructors in their area or none are willing to teach them. This is a very hard request sometimes because I don’t know how their disability affects their ability to move or use their hands and feet or arms and legs. I advise them to try to come and train with me and when they can’t because of distance I tell them to try to find an instructor in their area. Then I received an email from a gentleman who was also disabled and had read my articles and wanted to challenge me to a fight or sparring match. At first I thought it might be fun to do but after thinking about it for a few days and asking my family and Simo Paula about it I decided not to fight. Then about a month or so ago I received and email from Laura Kaminker who writes articles for a magazine for kids with disabilities called “Kids on wheels” their website is www.kidsonwheels.us. I was one of three people she interviewed for an upcoming article about the martial arts. It’s my understanding that the article will be out in February of 2006.

The really funny thing about writing for this page is that people write me for advice, because 22 years ago I was a very shy kid, who would have thought I would have a talent to teach and perform the martial arts pretty well. If you would told me that then I would have probably said you are nuts. I know that the great thing about the internet is that people like me are out there trying the martial arts for the first time and some are black belts maybe wanting to try a different style or just to improve their skills.

I know when I started the martial arts back in 1983 in VA I was the only disabled person training back then in my state. My role models back then were and still are to this day Bruce Lee and Guro Dan Inosanto. I have been told by many people that I’m their role model and inspiration it’s nice that they feel that way about me but I’m a guy doing the best with what I’ve been given but I don’t consider myself to be that good of a martial artist (fair) but I feel like I’m a good teacher. To close please keep sending your emails and letting me know if I can help or point you in the right direction.

Take A Seat In My Chair

written by Joseph Singleton

Now that I am in my third year as an apprentice with the Inosanto Academy there are a few things that I want to address to the members of the Inosanto Academy family. I am very fortunate to have been so welcomed and loved over the years when I attended any of Guro Dan’s seminars. I am a voice that is rising to be heard. Recently, there has been an awareness amongst a group of individuals who have sought out the Inosanto Academy family. As an apprentice instructor under the Inosanto Academy i am asking that as senior instructors as well as perspective instructors reach out and touch us. Guro Dan has said many times that he does not want us to mimic him, but to make what he teaches personal. We have a chance to test the theory that the martial arts should fit around the individual, not the individual around the martial art. I am sometimes disappointed that we are sitting on the sidelines at a seminar watching instead of participating. Of course, there will be limitations on what we can do, but I truly believe that it can be a short list if there were more willingness to share and explore.

I am blessed that I have been around long enough to speak to you frankly about my concerns. I will take it upon myself to open this door to my life and those in a similar position. We are showing our desire to learn Jun Fan and the Filipino martial arts, but we do need help. I believe that every instructor in this Inosanto family should touch us by taking a seat in our chair. Teach us what is useful through your experience and imagination. Please take the time to help, to lead, and to follow. Together we will do our family justice by not leaving anyone behind. It is important that you see what we can do instead of what we cannot do. It is obvious that mistakes will be made, but isn’t that what learning is all about?

What I will collect from my senior instructors will make them even more skilled of the unique opportunity to take a seat in my chair and see the world from a different point of view. I have learned many things in this family, such as, acceptance, inclusion, compassion, and commitment.

A friend of mine has a motto: “If better is possible, then good isn’t enough!”. I tried to live by this because it gives me a challenge for self-improvement. For this reason, I do understand where we stand in the tree of the Academy and if this tree is to grow tall and strong, all branches must be tended. Let us together agree and pledge that your knowledge and education will not just be a sponge for Guro Dan. Let us not make taking a photo with Guro Dan be the highlight of the seminar.

The first person to instruct me on the adaptation of the Inosanto Academy was Simo Paula. I am urging all senior instructors as well as fellow students to stop by and take a seat. Show and tell us how we can interpret what our beloved teacher wants us to do by expanding, exploring, and challenging yourself. Let me say that I am proud to be in this family and that is why I feel I can freely express my feelings. I felt loved from this family for many years. Even when I left to explore other opportunities, my family was there to welcome me back home. For me to become a better teacher and student of the Inosanto Academy, I must plead to my fellow students and instructors to take a leadership role and show us what can be usefully acquired in the study of martial arts under Guro Dan.

As different as we are as individuals, we are the best representation of what a skilled instructor can touch if he/she is willing to reach out beyond their box. In my culture, we are raised to believe that it takes a village to raise a child, so let us come together at the table and take a seat in my chair. Let’s talk. May I have the wisdom and courage to speak from my heart with conviction and sincerity. Together we can do it! Please read, discuss, and comment on what I have said here in this article. Together we can find a solution before it becomes a problem. Let us be the progressive school that believes in inclusion, and not another example of separatism. We have learned throughout history that this does not work.