Notes to Black Belts: These notes are just for the black belts who earned their rank under Tom Callos.
Hello my friends, I miss you, wherever you are in the world, in your life, I miss you. To earn your black belt we had to spend a lot of time together, didn’t we! Early morning “special trainings,” the long runs, the reps, the work, the demos, the tests; years.
We’ve all spread out from the school, as it has to be, but I hope you carry with you the spirit of those times. As one of my black belts you are one of KJN Ernie’s black belts —and that lineage carries with it certain responsibilities, I think (I practice):
1. In all things, you seek to do the right thing, even if it takes you several tries.
2. No grudge is ever held, as anger is never to be held on to or used as an excuse for treating someone poorly. Anger and misunderstanding and hate are the real tests of the training —and passing that test requires you to turn those things into compassion, empathy, and understanding. It may be the hardest thing to do, but it is the only way.
3. You always bow deeper; you always are the first to stand; you are always the first to lend a helping hand; you are always the first to forgive, to say something positive, and to offer support. That was the only reason we did the work we did.
4. You have to stand for something, something worth standing for.
When we were all together in Reno (and we were so young) you could pick out our black belts among people in the community; you knew how to represent the school, courteously, working as liaisons between the school and the community. The black belts who came from that school, our school, still today, almost to the man or women, represent a brand of martial arts, a kind of attitude, that sets them apart.
I work today, all of these years later, to carry on the tradition of doing the best work we are capable of. While we no longer meet every day on the mat, I have continued to work at being the best teacher I can be. This, I owe to you and thank you for the time you spent with me, I don’t think you can know how much it meant to me then —and still affects me today.