Seems like a good time to go down memory lane, again. I have an entertaining story about my first tournament. However, I’ll start with me training at my first dojo which occurred during 1970 and 1971. The dojo was located in the bonus room of the Riverside, California residence of Thomas Ludlow, Esq., who was my father’s attorney. My dad often found himself in need of legal services as his motorcycle dealership brought with it lots of exposure. The attorney’s son and I had become friends and we embarked on this journey around the same time. I was so excited. Our teacher was a brown belt in shito-ryu karate. I knew nothing about belts, titles or whatnot, but it didn’t matter one way or another to me because I was absolutely mesmerized by the skill and power displayed by our teacher. I did know that he cared about us (his students) and I was very happy to be there. The only student I remember having a gi was the attorney, Mr. Ludlow. I just wore my bell-bottom jeans and a t-shirt. Most of the stuff we did was kihon, line drills and combinations.
The training was awesome, and while it didn’t go on long term, some of it stuck. Case in point: Everybody in TAK knows the block-chop-punch-kick combination because it’s done twice in our first kata (tiger cub) and it’s the first situational self-defense technique in our defensive tactic curriculum. What most people don’t know is that combo was the first one I learned from our Riverside sensei. I was attracted to that combo because it really fit with my shorter than average stature and I felt I could use the moves in self-defense right away. I drilled and drilled that combo. It mattered not that my teacher was a brown belt or that I didn’t have a gi. What mattered was that he taught, I learned, and then went on to pass on that knowledge to other eager martial artists.
Want some nostalgia? Ten years later a nephew of our teacher, also a brown belt, walked into my Norco, Cali dojo and signed up. This martial artist was very good at kata and kumite and he had the fastest foot and hand speed I’d ever seen. The man also became one of the original five founders our system.
Here’s the tournament story: During a break in my motorcycle racing season, I competed in my first karate tournament. By now I’d signed up with a shorin-ryu karate dojo in Corona, California, but this time I had a gi. The tournament was held at the Corona High School gym and I was an orange belt at the time. I thoroughly enjoyed all the preparation Sensei put us through as tournament time approached. I entered in sparring and kata. First up was kata. I performed kihon kata (Tiger 1) and didn’t place. Now came sparring, the funny part. The first opponent I faced dropped me like a rock with a solid punch to the solar plexus. I was down. My mom was in the stands and she jumped up screaming at the guy and she gave it to those who were officiating. That was the first (and last) time she ever watched me compete in martial arts. Even though that first event was disastrous, I wasn’t discouraged – I went on to compete in many tournaments with some success.
Although my late folks didn’t attend or see much of the karate I did, they were supportive. I loved updating them about the dojos and events over the years and they always seemed eager to hear about everything. More irony…I have absolutely no photographs from those days. Nothing, “nada”. All I have are fond memories…and that’s okay with me.
– Sensei Floyd Burk