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To Sifu Howard: This is for you

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It was seven years ago that we met. Me walking in through what seemed like a big door to a seven year old, but now looks small. I didn't have my first class with him. My first class was with the other instructor. He seemed nice enough. It was hard work. Sweat. Drip, drip, drip, of my forehead. My Second class that week was the first time HE taught me.

Big, towering over me. An icon of success. He was always working. Not just the "work" work, the hard smack down the middle, "let's get down to work", but the enjoyment, the learning, the creativity he taught.

He made it fun. He made it hurt. The good type of pain, the healthy kind. He made martial arts his family. His home. His life.

He created me. He moved me. After that class we always worked together. We had private lessons every weekend. He taught my classes. We now knew each other. He became my older brother. Favourite instructor. Best friend.

One day he was just not there. Not at class. I kept hoping and watching the door, to see if he would come through. But he didn't. Like he was gone from the world. And he was.

He was gone. At least it was peaceful. I cried and cried. Cried. Nothing made me feel better.

At class, realization hit. Now is not the time to be sad. It is the time to celebrate. That's the way he wanted it. He is watching. Up above. Making sure, pushing us to do our best. To keep trying. He is always guiding the way. He is now me.





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