Goju-Shorei Systems

Martial Arts for the 21st Century

                Letter to the Goju-Shorei Community

                                                    IT'S TIME!


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

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Comment by Ross Briggs on April 9, 2015 at 12:53pm

Pete ... first let me address your dedication ... I'm not the only member of GS that has been impressed by you over the past many years.  As for your ranking, you far exceed me in the Weapons system, so never doubt what you've been able to accomplish.  Soke doesn't just pass out lollypops.  You've sweat, and put in the time and effort. 

As far as remembering your 1st kata?  I'm not sure any of us do.  I came across some notes from my 1st degree kata a few years back, and most yellowbelts would laugh at the techniques.  Don't sweat the small things.  You are one of the hard working 'smucks' like me, who train through the pain.  We're not as gifted with skills like Master Kooyman, or make things look so easy as many others.  You and I have to work at it.  And as time moves on, it gets harder to learn ... and yes ... retain the information we learned and are learning.  But you have more knowledge and skills that you can share with others than any ten people in GS that I know.

Many of us have needed to take time away from training and the school.  You know several of them.  But please remember, we have all in this little 'family' of ours been MORE than family.

Take what time you need, but don't be a stranger.  When you travel, you have friends and family in many areas.  You won't need to bring your stick or a gi.  Just that scowl we all love.

A very wise man once said that "...it would be illogical to assume that all things remain constant."  So next week, when you need someone to talk to, give me a call.

Comment by Aseem Kumar on April 8, 2015 at 5:45pm

Hi Pete, very nicely written letter and explanation, although you don't owe an explanation to anyone! It was great training with you in Atlanta in 2011.  Martial Arts never really leaves you (although I haven't quit long enough to really find out, I expect that is true)! I wish you all the best!

Aseem Kumar

Comment by Mark Kilby on April 8, 2015 at 4:08pm


While we only met a few times briefly (at Soke's dojo in 2010 and at the Atlanta Gathering in 2011) it was a pleasure to meet you and work out with you.  Wishing you well on this new part of the journey.  Just remember there is always something to learn and always something to teach no matter where you are.  May you continue to find opportunities for both and find peace with it.

(bowing deeply) Mark Kilby

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