Two weeks ago, during my last week of teaching, the karate club held a surprise retirement ceremony at the dojo in Sutton. It was organized by Carol and Walt Sankersingh, for which I will be forever grateful.
I was already feeling quite emotional as not only was it was my last week at Georgina Family Martial Arts, but my father had passed on two days prior. As people started walking in and I realized what was going on, I was very overwhelmed and it was pretty much all I could do to hold myself together. In fact, I said to Jeffrey, the new Sensei, “Please don’t ask me to speak.”
After the mayor presented me with a plaque and one of our former black belts, John Wight, made a lovely speech, I said a few words. I don’t remember what I said, but I know that it was woefully inadequate for how I feel about 20 amazing years as Sensei at GFMA. In fact, the following day I said to my brother, the speech I made on my way home that night was far better than the one I gave at the dojo.
This then is the speech I wish I had given!
From Humble Beginnings!
In September 1989, I was working in the corporate world, attending a company conference in Muskoka. One of the guest speakers at the conference was a retired schoolteacher from Philadelphia. He was also a black belt in karate. I was so inspired by his speech that I went home and immediately joined a karate club!
Fast forward five and a half years!
A few months prior to my black belt test my instructor asked me if I was interested in taking over his club. I told him that I didn’t think I was qualified to run my own club, but he assured me that as a black belt I would be more than qualified. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with my instructor, but a few months later three friends asked me if I would teach their kids karate.
Apparently, destiny was calling on me!
And so on May 8, my partner, Dan Bloxam and I started teaching in my basement. We had eight students, including my three children. By the end of the summer, we had 14 students in two classes, so we moved to a local church and by the end of September we had 25 students. By the end of November we had 75 students and three instructors and we had moved to our present location in Keswick. We were flying! A year later, we opened a second dojo in Sutton.
What started from humble beginnings took me on a journey that has been both amazing and extraordinarily gratifying! Not once, has it felt like a job!
It seems that destiny is calling on me once again. I don’t quite know why, but circumstances are telling me it is time to move on!
I thank everyone so much for your support and your love! I am particularly indebted to those who stayed with it long enough for me to hand you your black belts! The sense of accomplishment is unparalleled and I thank you for allowing me to be part of it!
I will cherish the last 20 years for the rest of my life and if the next 20 years are even half as fulfilling, I will be blessed! I wish everyone the same sense of fulfillment that I have enjoyed and I very much look forward to hearing that you have achieved your black belt!