This entry is the second of several I will publish, starting with the earliest memories that have brought me to this time and calling in life.
In 1973 an event occurred that changed my life forever. On July 20th, the world was shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Bruce Lee. His movie career had just begun to gain popularity in the West, and my boyhood hero was gone. This loss was tragic and inexplicable, profoundly affecting his many fans and me. I realized that I could never reach my full potential as a martial artist without formal training with a qualified instructor.
Four years after first entering Sensei George Dillman’s dojo to inquire about training, I paid my first month’s dues and purchased my first karate uniform. For the next 14 months, I practically lived in the Dillman Karate Institute, volunteering to participate in every demonstration and accepting every lesson offered. Since that day in September 1973, my martial practice has taken me on many roads and through numerous obstacles, but it has never stopped.
In late 1974 I moved to Chicago, Illinois, to join a luthier school. My ambition was to make acoustic musical instruments and to improve my guitar playing ability. I also sought out the best karate school I could find that would equal Sensei Dimman’s teachings.
The Ali Kai Academy in Maywood was my first choice, known for its high training standards and “Old School” discipline. Unfortunately, when I appeared for my first lesson, they informed me that the owner and chief instructor, Sensei Pat Wyatt, had recently died after suffering a heart attack. I decided to remain despite this and trained with some of the best Shuri-Ryu teachers in the area. When this school finally closed, I briefly joined a commercial dojo whose primary focus was on tournament competition.
My life and martial arts journey took an unexpected turn when I moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1976 to pursue a career in data processing. What I was to experience would set my life’s course for the next four decades and beyond.