"Would you rather do it and know that you at least tried, regardless of the outcome, or regret not trying at all?"
—Shihan Eddie Yoshimura,
President of U.S. Shidokan Association
Shihan Eddie gave me that reply because I had decided that I was not entering an important competition because I didn’t feel ready to compete. Trusting in his faith in me, I took his challenge and ended up winning that event and was written up in Black Belt Magazine for the decision within my weight class. His philosophy has pulled me through many years of additional challenges in all areas of my life – sometimes I won and sometimes I paid dearly for great lessons. I continue to try regardless of the fear that I may not ‘win’.
Martial Arts was a natural transition because I had always loved competing in sports. I'm not a gifted athlete, but I have the passion and dedication to keep trying. Initially, I began my journey with martial arts to feel less of a victim from my tumultuous life experiences – both professionally and personally. The lessons were profoundly empowering and life changing in a multitude of ways.
At my favorite dojo, Chicago Fitness Center, Shihan Eddie continually reminds us that it is critical to pass on what has been taught to us. And it is with great pride that I do so with every opportunity in my speaking engagements and private coaching. I have taught martial arts and competed in tournaments for years but frankly it was teaching our students in wheelchairs that truly taught me about having the spirit of a warrior.
Although I hold numerous belt rankings in a variety of disciplines, my personal favorite martial art is Japanese Shidokan Karate. This discipline led me to pursue a black belt with Grandmaster Kancho Yoshiji Soeno in Japan in April 2003. The deadly Sars virus had just broken out immediately before I arrived alone. My tenacity got the best of me – regardless of the health warnings I decided to stay for the challenging ten days and continue with my black belt journey. That adventure was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. It was a priceless adventure for which I am very thankful.