I did it! Through a lot of hard work, intense training, leading and teaching, as well as competing in various local, provincial and national competitions, this past June 2016, I was bestowed, by my Master Sensei, Omar Maldonado, with a second dan (a.k.a. 2nd degree) black belt in Shotokan Karate. Modesty aside, I am very proud of myself to have reached this elevated level in martial arts. But, as I am well known to push for more, I will not stop here; I am continuing… and I am now engaged in working—even harder—for my third dan. I have a lot of work ahead of me. Stay tuned.
Photo: Receiving my Shodan. Highly accomplished, widely respected martial artist within the martial arts community, locally and internationally, Sensei Omar Maldonado (7th dan), bestowing me with my black belt. —June 2012.
During my trek to attaining my second dan—and my first, for that matter—I have met, trained with, and led, by some of the world’s esteemed martial artists, respected world-wide for their contributions to the martial arts. Those well-known and highly accomplished individuals helped me create my path toward higher altitude, and in developing key skills that will be with me forever! Thank you to everyone who were by my side; who coached me; who encouraged me; who mentored me; and who believed in me and my ability to reach new heights.
They are: 7th dan, Sensei Omar Maldonado (Toronto, Canada); world-renowned and second-generation student of the founder of Goju-ryu, Chojun Miyagi, Okinawan-revered 10th dan, Sensei Chuck Merrimen (Texas, USA & Okinawa, Japan – photo below with Sensei, seated, and me, left); 7th dan, Sensei Mike Casinha (New Jersey, USA & Vancouver, Canada); Kyoshi Armi Rizzo, Legendary promoter, leader and karate pioneer (Toronto, Canada); Sensei Mike Bernardo, international and world champion in forms, fighting and weapons (Toronto, Canada); Sensei Julie Werhnyak (two-time member of the United States National Tae-Kwon-Do Team, U.S. Air Marshall, FBI, and Texas, USA state police officer and self-defense instructor); 8th dan, late Sensei Edward DiNardo (Arizona, USA); 9th dan, Sensei Michael Mancuso (New York, USA); 9th dan, Sensei John Atkinson and Hall-of-Famer Sensei Alex Atkinson; 9th dan, world-famous, Sensei Patrick McCarthy; 7th dan, Sensei Robert Reimby, world-class champion Tae Kwon-Do (Stockholm, Sweden); and many others—too many to mention, at my dojo—you know who you are. Thank you, thank you!
Photo: iPhone – L-R: Me, Sensei Chuck Merrimen, Godfather of Goju-Ryu, highly esteemed, world-renowned, second-generation student and founder of Goju-Ryu, Chojun Miyagi, Okinawan-revered 10th dan, Sensei Chuck Merrimen (Texas, USA & Okinawa, Japan), and fellow dojo Sensei Tristan Bogler. —June 04, 2016.
Photo: Feb. 19, 2017, Highly regarded, esteemed and respected, world renowned Sensei Alex Atkinson (9th Dan), and me. We were attending a wedding celebration of two fellow martial artists. Usually in our gis training, this time, we find ourselves in more formal attire.
Photo: Me, performing Sushi No Kan kata, using the bo weapon.
Photo: Me, performing Wansu Dai, an open-hand, 2nd dan kata, at our dojo.
Photo: Me, along with my fellow martial artists, at my local dojo.