Recently I was talking with a few colleagues of mine, and the discussion turned to what you want your legacy in the martial arts to be. The group proffered several great answers to the query, but I could not stop thinking about the question for the next several days. As I sorted through the many great experiences and mentors that have touched my life over the last 30 years, I settled on what my instructor’s legacy has been to me, and what I would like mine to be to my students.
Looking back at the many fantastic martial artists with whom I have been honored to know and train with, beautiful memories are as comforting as a warm spring breeze. A smile stretches across my lips when I remember names, faces, moments and lessons (sometimes painful), that have shaped me into the martial artist and teacher that I am today. And with the impact of a well timed counter reverse punch, I know the legacy these great men and women left to me and the one I would like to leave to my students.
What I would most like to leave to my family, friends, contemporaries and students is this simple thought, “I am a better man/woman for knowing him…” When I think back to everyone that has helped shape my life, this is the common thread connecting them all. They made me a better martial artist and more importantly a better man. This is the legacy I would like to leave to the people whose life I have been lucky enough to be a part of.
To all those many teachers and mentors who have given me a hand up when they had no reason to – thank you. I will try to honor you by paying it forward. I will make you as proud of me, as I am for having known you. You have taught me the true value of the martial arts – you are still, my hero’s – Bruce Hayden, Paul Alengi, Chuck Cordova, Garland Johnson, Bob Orlando, Jesse Menegdeg, Troy McCaskell, Willem deThouars, Clarence Thatch, Jerry Roberts, Hale Hilsebeck, Vince Vigil, Mike Mangrum, Cecil Peoples, Barry Benedict, Kim Yee, Dan Swenson, and many, many others. You are proof that it takes a brotherhood..