Six years ago, I remember feeling alone. Most of my friends were in some sport: baseball, basketball, soccer. I never had interest in any sports, nor was I any good at them. I saw them as a commitment.
That all changed in fifth grade when I found out about Salick’s Karate. Something about it seemed different from other martial arts dojo. My parents thought it would be good for me to try it out. The first class I went to was full of kids my age and some that were younger than me. Teaching them was an older man, who I soon found out to be Roger Salick, my sensei.
I started out in a class for beginners; the class consisted of learning how to properly punch, kick, and fight. Sensei would start classes with games that seemed meaningless, but later, he revealed the method behind his madness. Each game taught us something different (whether it was speed, coordination, or timing); everything had its purpose.
Shortly after joining, I moved on to a class sensei called Kids Advanced Training (KAT). The class normally consisted of warm-ups; followed my self-defense techniques or knife fighting; then ending class with either sparring, grappling, and/or keep-away with a six-pound medicine ball. This class is where I had a true connection to sensei and the people I worked with. The dojo felt like a home away from home, like a second family; and a messed up one at that.
While I learned something from all of the aforementioned, it was not nearly as important as the lessons that sensei would talk about during and after class. Sensei has a mindset about him that allows him to make connections between things that seemed like they have little to nothing in common. He would ramble about how blocking a punch in a certain way is like the ingenuity of Roman legions building a wall around a fort that they plan to siege, but somehow he could still make sense of it all. The man is like a textbook, he has a story for any situation.
But, the most important lessons were not the games or the history lessons we got to connect all of the skills we were learning. The most important lessons I learned from my sensei were his life lessons. Sensei would end class, usually once a week, with a life lesson for us all to think about when we left. These lessons consisted of self-control, modesty, and honesty. These lessons have helped to shape me into the person that I am today. For these reasons, I pick Sensei Roger Salick for my educator.