We learn when we prepare for Shodan grading one of the primary meanings of Black Belt is new beginning, starting over. What this really means is that we finally understand that everything we have learned to date is just the tip of the iceberg. A minutia of understanding of the martial way that will take a lifetime to gain mastery of. At this stage we understand that we are all beginners, finally ready for the full learning process, unencumbered by the trappings of status, title and other things that we focus on as we move through the Kyu (colored belt) ranks.
Its this feeling we have now in our dojo and our organization. After 30 years, my teacher and mentor, Shihan Andre Gilbert, who I respect beyond the imaginable, the person that gave me and our organization all we have, decided to make a change. I struggled for a long time to decide if I should go with him down his path of change or remain on the one set by him for us some 30 years ago in 1988. I consulted with my students to assist with the decision. Overwhelmingly they all wanted to remain on the current path. I also felt that the timing was not right for a change. I made the decision to not join my teacher and master, and stayed while he left. I fully understand his reasons for wanting to go and his need for change and fully respect his decision. I am saddened by a future of not having him as a regular part of my training any longer, but also look forward to what this new development brings, the doors that it opens and opportunities for new relationships and new beginnings.
I was offered and accepted to become Branch Chief for Central Canada region in the IKOK. This new beginning gives us the opportunity to put our own stamp on how we train, what our syllabus should be, hold our own events and tournaments (look out for a Toronto tournament in the future!!!) and take a more active and fuller role in the international IKOK. We will work to build a strong Central Canada Branch with many dojo's. We will cooperate with the other Branch Chiefs and dojo directors across Canada and from around the world to better our learning in order "To fulfill the true meaning of the Kyokushin Way." as our founder, Mas Oyama, wished for us all to.