Letter to the Goju-Shorei Community
Ten years ago I completed the requirements for 4th black in Goju-Shorei Weapons. I declined to accept that rank. I, more than those around me, knew I lacked the dedication, the commitment, the inherent ability to wear that belt. It hasn't gotten any better with time. I sometimes wonder if maybe I should have relinquished a stripe or two before now, so that the rank I hold might more accurately reflect my current martial arts ability.
I have forgotten the kata I created for my 1st black rank. Nobody else knows it, for I failed to pass it on. It was, I think, well thought out, involving pressure point attacks through-out. But now it's gone. Gone from my memory bank, gone as a useful learning tool by which others might have benefited. And that's not all. I have forgotten most of the Cane & Shield, which obviously I once knew well enough to earn the 3rd black in the Weapons System. I've been working sporadically for some time now to relearn it, and it's not coming easy.
So, without whining or regrets, I'm realizing it's past time to rethink my Martial Arts path from here. Make no mistake, Martial Arts has been good to me and for me. How could it not be, when I have had direct access to the teachings and friendship of Soke McNeill for all these past twenty years? But through it all. I've been more of a participant than a combatant, more than a camp follower but less than a true sensei. Yeah, I've taken a few knocks, but not as many as most of you twenty-year veterans. Not that knocks are a legitimate means of keeping score, but knocks do happen. After all, MA is contact sport.
Martial Arts has benefited me in other ways beyond the physical tests and trials. Because of MA I walk a little taller, stand a little straighter, exude a little more confidence. I thank you all for instilling that in me. I participate in my own life more than most men my age. Thank you for contributing to that as well.
And that brings me to now. Now I am 78. OMG!! Is that even possible? The calendar says it is, my mind and body deny it. Is that a good thing? I think so, with reservations. In some ways I am more than I ever was, but in others not so much. But one thing I know for sure, MA is not an old man's game. To pretend otherwise is to deny reality. I have seen a few old Masters who stayed in the game too long, basking in the afterglow of once-great achievements. It is sad to watch. Of course I am no Master, but I do know it's time for me to bow out while I can still do so with dignity, before I fade from contributor to curiosity, from relevance to relic.
Thank you! Thank you for indulging me, for including me in your game for awhile. I expect I have another 20 years or so to reflect on all you have given me. THANK YOU!! MA has been an important and rewarding phase in my life. Namaste. Pete Bowie