The American Karate Escrima Association always has and always will offer the best training available for today’s self-defense needs. While this is not changing, the management structure is.
The Kobudo Demo and All School Picnic marks the conclusion of my reign as the Operations Manager. In order to pursue my new career as a middle school science teacher, I will begin student teaching in August.
I cannot begin to describe what this school means to me. To say that I am a completely different person than I was when I walked through those doors 17 years ago is an understatement. The skills I have learned here have given me the courage to attempt things I would have never considered before. For this, I am forever grateful.
There are so many people that have been influential on my warrior journey, I could not possibly name them all. From the countless Little Dragons and Juniors I have taught in groups, to all my private students, to all the instructors that I have had the privilege to train alongside, you have each left a mark that is forever on my heart.
So many fierce women come to my mind from over the years. As I was coming up through the ranks, Mrs. Everson, Mrs. Neumann, Ms. Klein, Mrs. Carle, Mrs. Daninger, Mrs. Swetz were my role models. In turn, I hope that I was able to give back to other women what these ladies gave to me.
When I was new and timid (that’s right, I used to be timid!) I had a love/hate relationship with Mr. Spickler, Mr. Himes, Mr. Hough, Mr. Cully, Mr. Jordan. Their groups were legendary. I came to every group I possibly could and what did not kill me, made me stronger. I see the students today with their blood, sweat, and tears, and think…ah, how I remember those days. All that agony is worth it!
While most students and parents may consider me “the face of the A.K.E.A.”, what everyone may not know is what goes on behind closed doors. I absolutely could not do this job without the support of the Management Team, Mr. Bailey and Mr. Moore. They put in countless hours developing curriculum, training instructors, exchanging emails to help me in decision making. They invest time and energy into this school to ensure that we are the best. “Thank you” does not seem adequate.
One name stands out above the rest. I remember it like it was yesterday. I walked in the front door for my interview and bounding through the tiger door to greet me comes this big, welcoming smile. While I waited in the lobby for the manager to come out, I could hear that loud Southern drawl over the walls, working on mirror drills with his students. “I AM STRONG! I AM FAST! I AM A WARRIOR!”
I went through the intro and sat down to do the enroll. The manager told me which instructor he was going to put me with and I said, “No, I want HIM! That one with the big personality, the Texan.” And so it began.
From day one, Mr. Tork had his hands full with me. Let’s just say, I was not a natural. But he would not give up on me and more importantly, he never let me give up on myself. He pushed me hard and then he pushed me harder. He made me cry, and he made me laugh and through it all, he made me better and better. I owe more to Mr. Tork than I can ever repay. Thank you, Sir. It has been an honor and a privilege.
Mr. Harmaning, my boss, my mentor, my friend. I have no words, so I am not even going to try. *insert bawling here*
Now, I say all this, but it’s not goodbye! I will still be around, just not quite as much. I will still be teaching my students as well as handling financial issues, so if you need me, you know how to find me. In the meantime, how about a little stroll down memory lane.
My first belt test. I passed! I made white/black. It’s a miracle!!
Look at that warrior face. Circa 2004.
Shodan test. December 9, 2006
Nidan test. May 12, 2012