I spent a substantial part of my life training in martial arts. I’ve always been very drawn to it, the principles, the power, the philosophies, and the traditions. I’ve had some incredible teachers and mentors in my life while training in martial arts. In the years when I was training in the art of Shukokai Karate at the dojo (as opposed to the years I would train on my own), I was lucky to have Sensei Gavin Armstrong as my teacher and mentor. I knew sensei Armstrong since I was about 14 years old when we were training with the late and great Sensei Kimura at “Kimura Karate”, and Gavin was an uchi-deshi (live-in full time martial artist) at Kimura Karate. Karate, for me, was about surpassing the expectations and self-imposed limitations of power. Learning to throw a punch or a kick, understanding the ancient mechanics of generating power from deep within your core, through the extraordinary potential of your breath, and leading with emotional content and determination, not anger, were all principles that took on greater meaning for me over the years as my training progressed.
Later in life, when I was around 30, I found Asahi Aikikai, an Aikido dojo on the upper east side in Manhattan which would begin my 7-year journey with Aikido. To say Sensei Gualdemar Gonzalez was a mentor to me doesn’t do it any justice whatsoever. Sensei Gonzalez (who in my phone just comes up as “Sensei”), was and is like a father to me. Through Aikido my world opened up, and my understanding of conflict would take on completely different meaning. Sensei Gonzalez’s teachings both on and off the mat, were rooted in tradition, in simplicity of movement (“enough with all the hand movement” he’d say, or “this isn’t a yoga class”), in building a solid foundation (the power comes from the earth, so you learn by watching how masters move their feet), in meaningful action (moving with your center, and “where the head points the rest will follow”), moving with intention (“move like a spirit, not a ghost” one of my favorite Sensei Gonzalez teachings), and applying focus where it makes the most sense (“look at my sword and I have your head”).
The lessons I’ve learned through years of practicing martial arts have formed the foundation for my success as a litigator and as a negotiator. Martial arts is a part of my soul and the lessons I’ve learned in martial arts have allowed me to become the master of difficult situations by learning to be the master of myself.
Now, I venture into a new chapter in my life, embracing a world view through meditation and yoga, excited to begin a teacher training in January. Excited to study under new mentors. In embracing the practice of being present, acceptance, and patience, I’ve felt the impact that has had on my life and in my abilities as a guide and advisor to my clients. I really look forward to what the future brings.