I open this brief meditation with an apology. It is a self-serving manuscript. I have been meditating a great deal as of late on the Shihan (master level) pretest in Kiyojute Ryu Shogei Toitsu Kempo. As I arrive at this stage in my martial arts sojourn, I find myself wanting to share where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, and to communicate the richness of the true Toyo Kempo Bugei. Consider it the story of a typical martial artist in the United States during a time where the silly competitions of relatively untrained gladiators are the buzz of the moment. I began training in 1992 as an utter child of eleven years. I did not seek training but sort of fell into it when my younger brother was put in a martial arts program to help him conquer his shyness. I still remember walking into the school for the first time when an extremely large blonde man greeted us and took us through an introductory class. I was enraptured by the students running about in crisp, white uniforms and wearing a plethora of multi-colored belts with stripes down the middle and on the tips. My brother joined, and I joined because he did. After five years I was a second degree black belt, and I knew everything that the system taught. I say this not to be ostentatious but as a statement of simple fact. Every solo form, every two man set, every basic movement, I knew. To advance, I needed one crucial thing—age. The way the system was set up you were not allowed to test for certain ranks until you were older. For example, you had to be twenty to be a third degree. As such, I was sitting perfectly still, staring into the growling maw of a four-year-wait for my sandan test in which I was to learn absolutely nothing new. In such a situation, what is an inquiring mind to do?
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