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Ten Karate enthusiasts got together. They all had trained for many years and had roughly the same level of skill. They wanted to promote the art and get together to train. Sam offered his place. The other nine agreed and they all met regularly at Sam's place.

They trained for many years. One by one, some of the members had to leave the group, whether because of work, health, or family obligations. They still remained friends, but the group became smaller and smaller. Some members even died. Decades went by.

Eventually only Sam was left. His students decided to honor him by calling the art he taught Sam-Ryu. Sam was embarrassed, but allowed his students to do this because he did not want to disappoint them.

The years continued to go by. Sam eventually passed away. His students told stories about how Sam had trained, about his teachers, about his great accomplishments.

One day, one of Sam's old friends stopped by and spoke to the seniors of the Sam-Ryu Dojo. They were eager to tell the visitor stories about their great teacher. The visitor listened politely, and then asked about the other 9 Karate enthusiasts who had originally gotten together to train with Sam.

"What 9 Karate enthusiasts?" asked the students? "We practice Sam-Ryu. He was our master."

Karate never evolves in a vacuum. It never evolves as the result of just one person. Arts tend to promote one person and one name, but there are usually many great people who contributed to the development of the art. Karate hermits do not promote the art -- they hide it. A dojo is usually great because it features many fine instructors, each with their own special skills.

Remember that for every Sam you hear about, there are probably 9 others you don't hear about. It is in some students' vested interest to promote the memory of their master, their Sam. But don't forget David, Bill, Sally, Margaret, Mark, Matt, Aaron, Brandon, Sue.... Without them there would be no Sam-Ryu.

Sam might have just had the best place to train.


Charles C. Goodin