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May 1, 2005 [ More archived home pages here ]

Just For Kicks

Friday, April 29, 2005 marked the long overdue reunion with my friend and teacher, Sensei John R. Venson. The passage of twenty-five years between our last meeting didn't diminish the feelings shared between us. We greeted each other warmly with hugs in the middle of the street outside my house.

Sensei along with his son, Reggie (also a Sensei) stopped on their way from San Diego to Los Angeles for a visit. Sherry and I took them out to dinner at Fish House Vera Cruz in nearby Restaurant Row. It was a fabulous time with them.

We spoke of our first meeting 30 years ago this month and my continued training starting in November of 1975 when I was able to devote full-time to my martial arts path. I am forever indebted to the lessons Sensei taught me decades ago back in Chicago. Some feelings between us can not be put into words, but they expressed themselves in other ways at dinner last night.

Sensei told me about his ongoing, Just For Kicks Karate business that takes he and his Black Belt team around the country. Several of the students I trained with 30 years ago are now advanced Black Belt members of his team. We talked some about the old days and my recollections of those fellow students when we all trained as friends and classmates under his strict and disciplined style of teaching.

I asked Sensei if I was still the lowest-ranked student to ever receive his special medallion (shown below) for (in his words) "outstanding contributions to the martial arts". I was a Blue Belt in May of 1976 when I received the medallion. He said I was still the lowest-ranked student to receive it and that in his entire 30+ years of teaching, he's only handed out 5 or 6 of them. I then pulled the medallion out of my medicine bag and showed it to them. I keep it with me whenever I am away from the house. Both Sensei and Reggie were moved in that moment, as was I.

Sensei asked me to continue on my path to earn my Black Belt. There will be some adjustments to my remaining training to facilitate the stage of life I'm in now. I look forward to his requirements for me to complete my advancement to First Dan. I am proud to study under his leadership again, even if we do it across the thousands of miles that separates us. As I've written previously on this site, time and distance don't mean that much to me. My life bridges those spans very easily when the requisite Spirits are willing.

Our time together Friday night went by too quickly, but it was filled with powerful expressions of love between us. Like many of my long-term relationships, it was as if we hadn't been apart more than a few days. That's a wonderful emotion to feel. Our next meeting will not be so long in waiting and that's a promise.

Don


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