As Ashleigh and I wrangled our kids down an escalator at Oak Park Mall, heading in the opposite direction I saw an old familiar face from the “early days” of Olathe Karate Academy. “Wait…wait…I’ll come back down!” It is not uncommon for us to run across old students or family members, but on this day (after a few hours at the mall) I was not really in the mood for a “stop and chat”. However, as this elated father of a very fine former student reached out his hands toward my outstretched hand, I felt a certain warmth outpouring. His now almost 20 year old son, Andrew, had started training with me nearly a decade ago. Now a sophomore in college, I was definitely speaking with one proud father. He filled me in on recent activities and accomplishments, but what happened next took me by surprise. Among the words of praise for his son, he choked up about how influential the martial arts had been in his development. “More than kicking and punching…you taught Andrew to think and I can not thank you enough.” We conversed a bit longer, said our goodbyes and headed on our way.
This encounter might not have had such an impact on me, but for the fact that the evening prior I celebrated the promotion of fifteen of the finest Olathe Karate Academy students. Friends and family gathered to honor the hard work and dedication demonstrated by all. Dinner was enjoyed, promotions were awarded, speeches were given and tears were shed. It was a great evening.
A black belt test tends to bring out the best in everyone and emotions run high. I was humbled by the kind words of many as to the impact Olathe Karate Academy had in their lives. However, it was not until my chance encounter the next day that I truly realized that the many speeches of the previous evening were not simply due to the moment. Lives have truly been impacted and changed. I suppose in the day to day grind, I sometimes forget this. Many students come and go. Such is the curse for a business owner/instructor. Time and energy is devoted and then the student is gone and it seems that it was all for nothing. However, this weekend has reminded me that the fruit of many might simply need longer to harvest. Wether I am there to see it or not is rather inconsequential. The strength and perseverance of character that Olathe Karate Academy strives to instill in its students truly does matter. The martial arts is not just another sport. It is a way or path that can affect every other aspect of life.
I am grateful to my long-time instructor and the other master instructors he has introduced to me as an influence in my life. They have all shaped the “spirit” of the Olathe Karate Academy. Our dojo would not be the school that it is today without traditional and fundamental aspects of the martial arts at its core.
Congratulations to all that received a promotion this weekend. I am grateful to each and every one of my students and honored to be called their instructor. And so our path continues. We will again set goals, persevere and succeed.
James R. Palmer, Kyoshi