Patterson Sensei's Wado Dove


Wado Ryu Karate

The US Eastern Wado Ryu Karate Federation

Southern Region Wado Ryu Karate Association

Sensei Archive






Previous words from the Sensei
July, 2007
April, 2007
January, 2007
June, 2006
January, 2006
June, 2005
March, 2005
January, 2005
October, 2004
June, 2004
February, 2004
November, 2003
March, 2003
February, 2003
December, 2002
September, 2002
July, 2002
June, 2002
March, 2002
February, 2002
January, 2002
November, 2001
October, 2001
September, 2001
August, 2001
June, 2001
May, 2001
March, 2001
January, 2001
November, 2000
September, 2000
August, 2000
July, 2000
May, 2000
March, 2000
February, 2000
January, 2000
December, 1999
November, 1999
October, 1999
September, 1999
July, 1999
June, 1999
May, 1999
April, 1999




 


 

Tom Stevenson, Sensei






Wed, 11 July 2007

        Well, here I am again.  I have hesitated to replace the last column for sentimental reasons.  Seems like every day I do something that closes the door between my friend who passed away and me.  I know that it is necessary; I just don't like doing it.
 
        I do have something to talk about and celebrate.  As of June, I am in my 30th year in the martial arts.  Since I was the frist student at "The Tradition" here in Athens, it follows that the school is also celebrating its 30th year in existence.  I truly think that these 2 occasions are somthing to celebrate and at some point we are going to have a party.  It gives me much to reflect on when I think of all the training I've done, people I've met, travel, sweat, spilled blood, a few broken bones, and many absolutely wonderful memories.  I have had the opportunity to work out with and under the instruction of some truly wonderful people and extraordinary martial artists.  They are all counted among those people who have enriched my life.
 
        I must take another opportunity to stress the impact of Sensei Cecil T. Patterson on my life.  He was always a positive in my life.  We talked quite often by phone about the Federation and other topics of mutual interest.  He had much wisdom to impart.  Sensei was never easy on me (or anyone else for that matter) on the dojo floor.  He was demanding and I'm a better person and martial artist for it.  I wanted to please him; but most of all I never wanted to do anything to embarrass the Federation and my style (and I still don't).  I'll never forget the Sunday afternoon up in Nashville with some of my assistant instructors observing the Black Belt exam.  I was leaned up against the wall quietly chatting with some friends when Sensei walked out of the office.  He looked down at us and his only comment was "Tom, you're getting a little fat aren't you?"  I replied "Yes Sir".  I was a little stung; but I also realized he was only telling me the truth.  A few weeks later when we next talked again I was proud to tell him that I had lost 15 pounds.  I wish he were here to say the same thing to me now.  Believe me, he would.
 
        Yesterday I read an article on a martial arts website.  It was written by a leading American Wado practitioner by the name of  Sensei Tom Kosslow.  I have heard of Tom but I don't know him.  I hope he doesn't mind me referring to his article.  It was about growing old in the martial arts.  He talked about all the limitations that age has brought to him as a martial artist.  I recognized much of what he said in things happening to me.  He also talked about the freedom getting older has given him.  How he has nothing to prove and doesn't feel at all ashamed if he has to take a break every once in a while.  It was something I needed to read.  I have been really beating myself up lately because I'm just not the person I was at 30.  It also helped when I figured out that I am 2 years older than Tom.  Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of retiring from karate.  However, I do intend to be more realistic in my expectations of myself.  Thanks for the article Tom; there was a lot of wisdom there.
 
        Well, I guess that about does it for this time around.  Take care of yourselves and I'll talk to you again soon.
 
                                    Tom Stevenson, Rokudan
                                    Regional Director, USEWF





Sun, 8 Apr 2007

        I hope everyone is having a Happy (albeit cold) Easter.  This is a very special day for all Christians.  This day gives life hope and meaning beyond just a mere existence for a few years.

        I have a couple of things on my mind and 1 is something I truly hate to do.  I guess I'll use this column to officially say goodbye to my best friend for over 20 years.  In 1982 I was hired to teach and coach at a little K-9 school here in Limestone County.  The same day Philip Eubanks was hired to teach at the high school we fed into.  We attended orientation together and a bond that lasted almost 25 years was immediately formed.  As I have mentioned before, Philip was a huge man.  All of 6'9" and 350 pounds, he was a red headed bear of a man.  I am 6'4" and 270 pounds, so we made a rather conspicuous pair.  It was more than the natural comparing of notes of 2 large men who had chosen the same profession.  Other than my real brother, same size as me, I was closer to Philip at the soul level than any other person I've ever known.  Yes, he is the one I went with to get his son when we found out the boy had committed suicide.  I saw him through the deaths of his parents and son and he saw me through the deaths of my parents.  He's the one that jumped on a Greyhound bus with me and rode all the way to Albuquerque, NM and toured the southwest.  By the way, we don't fit on those bus seats.  Anyway, a couple of months ago Philip had a sudden stroke and passed away.  I have been devestated; but my other friends and my faith (Philip was also my pastor) have helped me through it.  Buddy, I'll miss singing with you and football season will never be the same; but I WILL see you again.  So keep that guitar tuned.  We aren't real good; but we know a lot of songs and we make a truly joyful noise.

        Next, I want to talk about the tournament in March.  What a great day.  The system is truly growing by leaps and bounds.  Congratulations to all the planners, workers, competitors, and especially my people Paula Fialk, Alisha Langley, and  my partner Bill Ireland for their awards.  All of you guys are winners in my book.

        While there I had an opportunity to have a long conversation with Buck Ford that I want to mention.  As I've said before, Buck is Tennessee Ernie Ford's son, a movie and tv actor in his own right, and a marvelous martial artist.  Our Federation is blessed to have people like Buck.  Aside from all that, Buck is a great guy who I am honored to call friend.  He is one of those people who make martial arts in general and Wado in particular better just by having him around.  Anyway, we got to talking about kata; both as a general topic and in tournaments.  We found much common ground and he asked that I speak to that in this column.  I hope my writing skills are up to it.  When I'm teaching a kata or trying to judge one in a tournament.  I try to look at the performer AND just outside the edge of the techniques.  In my humble opinion, I should have the impression of something happening there that the performer is responding to.  It can't be just a series of moves.  We can do all of those we need in floor techniques.  The performer is supposed to be engaged in combat at some level.  I, as an onlooker, should be able to visualize what the performer is fighting.  I'm probably not saying this well; but if all I see is a series of techniques, then no matter how well executed they are, something is missing.  I truly hope that for my students the closest they ever come to a fight for their life is in the katas they run.  Believing that, it becomes Bill's and my job to make them feel the same way.  When I tell them I'm going to look a little outside their kata they should know what I mean and make me see it.  To me you are either engaging in a struggle with one or more opponents or you're just doing a series of prearranged techniques.

        I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Until next time take care of yourself.

                                   Tom Stevenson, Rokudan
                                   Regional Director, USEWF





Saturday, 13 January 2007

        After many months I'm back with something to say and a little time to say it; at last.  The last half year has been extraordinarily busy and it's not over yet.  I started trying to execute my mother's estate last April and I'm still at it; although, the end may be in sight.  Definitely one of the most frustrating things I've ever tried to do; especially since I want to try to follow my mother's wishes to the letter.

        I have 3 separate items I want to mention in this column; so I'll get right to it.  First, I want to mention the promotion of both Dave and Chris Button to 5th degree this past December.  The twins are 2 of the finest men I know and were richly deserving of the promotions.  In their professional lives, they are both Captains on the Huntsville, Al. fire department.  They bring dedication and professionalism to whatever they undertake.  I don't think that they would mind if I added that they (as well as the rest of us) leave some of that behind on our annual summer trips.  Maybe the older one gets the more childish one will act at times.  My biggest problem is trying to figure out what aliases they will be using each year.  That's an inside joke.

        Next, I am thrilled to announce that Mr. Bill Ireland, Yondan, has become a full partner in "The Tradition"; and will be taking the school over at some time in the future.  I had been looking for someone to be there when it came time for me to give the school up.  I have run the school for over 23 years.  Many of those years I was teaching school all day; coaching any one of several sports; and then teaching karate at the Rec. Center 3 nights a week.  Needless to say my free time was limited.  Don't get me wrong; I loved it, but it took its toll.  I retired from coaching a couple of years ago and have been actively getting Bill ready to take over.   When the moment comes I don't think I could leave the school in better hands.  Bill is an excellent instructor; and all of the students think the world of him (as do I).

        Finally, Sat., Mar.24 is the date of this year's 5th Annual C.T. Patterson Memorial Tournament to be held at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tn.  Mark your calendar and be there for the USEWF's biggest day of the year.  I look forward to this every year.  Let's work to make this one the biggest and best yet.  You can get the link to the Feds. website on our links page and get all the info. you need.  Hope to see you there.

         Until next time.

                                Tom Stevenson, Rokudan
                                Regional Director, USEWF

P.S.  Congratulations to Ilke Lander on her shodan.  Fantastic performance from a great person.





June, 2006

        Hello again!  I guess I'm ready to get back online.  I know it's been a while; but I plead extenuating circumstances.

        I do want to report that the Federation tournament this year was a huge success.  From what I understand there were over 400 competitors; and the competition seemed to be very stiff in most of the rings.  It was a pleasure to meet so many old friends; and make some new ones.  I'm not a tournament person (and never will be); but I truly look forward to that one Saturday in March every year.  I also truly believe that Sensei Patterson would be proud of what John, Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. Z, and all of the others involved have made happen in the last few years.  He also would be very pleased, I believe, to see how the Fed. has rebounded from the loss of some schools since his passing.  We have made up the lost membership and are opening new schools.  Congratulations and best of luck to the new school owners.  You can find an up to date list of Fed. schools on the Feds. website listed among the contacts on this site.

        I do have to tell you that I have a reason for not posting lately.  A month and a half ago my mother passed away suddenly.  It has been very hard to motivate myself since then; but I have had wonderful help in getting back at least some of my drive.  I never knew my family and I had so many friends.  I heard from people all over the U.S.; and their words truly helped.  I can't begin to tell you what it meant to have my students at school be so kind and understanding.  My brother, sisters, and I are truly blessed.  I have the added responsibility of being the executor of Momma's will; but I think that the family ties are strong enough to deal with this without rancor.

        I also want to extend my condolences to John and Valerie Honeycutt on the death of John's father at about the same time as my mother.  I won't go in to how much John and Val mean to me; I'll just say I love them and they know it.  I didn't know John's father; but, as I said to John, to produce a son like him he had to have been a good man.  Also, I'll see you guys in Texas in a few weeks.

        Finally, you guys in Texas getting ready for the Shodan test work hard; it will be worth it.

        Talk to you guys again soon.
                                        Tom Stevenson, Rokudan
                                        Chairman, Southern Region U.S.E.W.F.





January, 2006

        Welcome to 2006!  It seems like only yesterday that we welcomed the new milennium; and here we are in 2006.  Time does seem to be speeding up.

        I know it's been awhile since I submitted a new column; but I just haven't been able to take the last one down.  The story of that young man's suicide is still unfolding in our lives.  We have had yet another of our students get caught in the process of setting up a suicide attempt.  This is madness.

        On a lighter note, my family and I had a great holiday season.  My brother got to spend almost 2 weeks here from his home in Arkansas.  He and I spent a lot of time together; and that means a great deal to me.  He is a great guy.  Christmas was wondrous; as usual.  I'm sure I'll start planning for the next one several months in advance like I always do.

        The new year has brought several new students to "The Tradition"; and they are welcome additions.  It never ceases to amaze me the quality of people that get in the martial arts.  I am blessed just to be acquainted with them.

        I would like all of you readers who are members of the USEWK to mark your calendar for March 18.  That is the date of the Fed. tournament this year.  By the way, don't just mark the calendar, plan on being there.  It is always a great day; and this year we are going back home.  Yep, we're back in Columbia, Tn.  You can go to the weblinks page and link on to the Fed. website and get all the information.  You can even register online.  I know that John, Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. Z, and all the others involved in bringing this tournament off are going to have an excellent day planned.

        On a final note, all of us here in Alabama would like to extend our condolences to the family of Mr. Ken Eubanks, owner and operator of the Olympic Studios in Kentucky.  Ken was a pioneer in martial arts here in the south and was a very nice man.  Martial arts will miss him.

    Until we talk again, take care.

                         Tom Stevenson, Rokudan
                         Regional Director, USEWF





Sunday, June 26 2005

        Well, here it is at the end of June and it seems the summer is already half over.  Time seems to be passing by ever faster.  Such is life, I suppose.  I need to comment on a couple of things; so let's get on with it.

        Saturday night, June 11, Chris and Dave Button and I set out on our annual trek out to Texas to check in with the folks out at North Texas Wado-Ryu in Midlothian just south of Dallas.  As usual, John and Valerie Honeycutt and all the karateka and families from out there were wonderful to us.  We got to teach a couple of classes and then conduct a Black Belt exam.  Congratulations to Josh and Kenny on getting their ShoDans.  Also, congratulations to Jason Hahn on his promotion to NiDan and John Boye on his promotion to SanDan.  The twins and I always look forward to the trip.  The folks out there have their own western version of southern hospitality.  For those of you who are interested, Texans are so friendly that they've even started serving sweet tea in some of their restaurants.  Talk about trying to please.

        On Wednesday the 15th the twins, John H., Jason H., and I left for Camden, Arkansas.  We were met there by my brother and spent the night there with him and his wife, Deb.  We were all thoroughly thrashed by Hemi and Hasty, their pugs.  Thanks for the hospitality Deb and may I again compliment you on your beautiful home.

        Thursday morning, bright and early, the 5 of us along with my brother Randy headed out for our 11th annual men's summer outing.  This time we had cabins rented at Natchez State Park ouside of Natchez, Ms.  We spent 3 days touring the area and taking it easy.  Natchez has a lot of history and we really enjoyed the time there; especially the twilight horsedrawn carriage tour of the historic part of the city.  Of course, one of the favorite parts of our yearly trips are the nightly card games.  I can't even begin to describe them; you'd just have to be there to believe it.  Let me just say that there's more than 1 way to spin the Wheel of Fortune.

        We've already started planning our next year's trip.  We're thinking about staying in Texas and going to a Dude Ranch for a few days out under the stars.  Since I haven't been on a horse in over 30 years, it ought to be a cinch.  I hear the twins are good horsemen (until they run out of quarters).  Anyway, I know it will be a blast.  Can't wait.

        Friday morning, the 8th of July, Bill Ireland (my assistant instructor here at The Tradition) and I are heading to Blairsville, Ga. to teach a couple of classes at Bob and Ilke Lander's school.  I'm looking forward to this trip because there are some really good people there AND I get to see Emma (Bob and Ilke's baby).  She's a beautiful little girl and the parents are justifiably proud of her.  Fortunately, it looks like she'll look like her mother (whew!).  Sorry Bob.  I'm kidding them; Bob and Ilke seem like wonderful parents.  Anyway, we'll be seeing you in a few days.

        It won't be long after the next trip before school starts back again.  I'll be starting my 30th year as a high school teacher.  I can't believe it.  I'm starting my 28th year in Wado-Ryu; and at times I still feel like a beginner.  I'm thankful for what Wado and my association with the U.S. Eastern Wado Federation have done for me over the years.  All of you take care of yourselves until we talk again.

                                  Thomas M. Stevenson, RokuDan
                                  Chairman, Southern Region USEWF





Sunday, March 20, 2005

        Well, here it is the first day of spring and I can't help but think that evryone is walking around with a little lighter mood and a smile on their face.  I've waited for this all winter.  I know we'll probably have a little more cold weather; but warm weather will soon be here for good.  That's enough to put a spring in anyone's step.

        The 3rd Annual Cecil T. Patterson Memorial Tournament was held yesterday in Nashville; and it was a resounding success.  There were well over 300 competitors and the competition looked to be stiff in all the rings.  I don't have all of the final results from my people at "The Tradition"; but I know several of them came home with trophies.  I'm very proud of all who competed.  I also want to say how good it was to have Sensei Bill Ireland, Yondan, at the tournament.  Bill is the assistant instructor at "The Tradition".  His job has prevented him from getting to be at some of the previous tournaments.  I know how highly the students of the school regard him.  I feel the same way.  Bill is a great instructor and a fine man.  I'm honored to have him as a friend.

        It was great to have the "Terrific Texans" in town Thursday and Friday.  They attended our class Thursday night and we had a great time together.  They thanked us for our hospitality; but, I can assure you, they repay it in full every year when we go out there.  John and Val have a great group of people.  Get those folks ready for the Black Belt exam in June.  The twins and I (and any of our other instructors who can make it) can't wait to get out there.  Tell Caroline to have the blackberry cobbler ready.

        My congratulations to John Patterson, Taylor Hayden, Shane Patterson, James and Jean Ellen Zimmerman, Bill Taylor, Buck Ford, and all those who planned and conducted the tournament.  Fantastic job!  It was great to see so many of the folks in the Federation that I don't get to see very often.  It is plain to see that the Federation has withstood Sensei Patterson's death and is coming back stronger than ever.

        Finally,  Sensei Melvin Brown, a member of the Federation Board of Directors, is presently serving in Iraq.  He has started an adjunct dojo to his Bushido Dojo in Tennessee.  He will soon be testing 20 service men and women for their gold belts.  What a story; and what a great guy.  Melvin, our thoughts and prayers are with you, your students, and all our service men and women who are in harm's way.  This old flight deck crewman from the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk (Vietnam '69) salutes you all.

        Until next time, take care of yourself.

                       Tom Stevenson, Roku Dan
                        Regional Director, U.S.E.W.K





Saturday, January 22, 2005

        Well, here it is, late January and the holiday season is over.  I usually descend into a deep blue funk on Jan. 2nd and don't come out of it until sometime in March when the first real springlike days get here.  However, so far I don't seem to be sinking as low as fast.  Maybe it has something to do with having a few warm days and keeping very busy.  I'm sure the winter blues are waiting out there for me somewhere.

        I did have a wonderful Christmas this past year.  My brother and his wife came home from Arkansas for a week and he and I got to spend some really good time together.  He is a great guy, and we enjoy each other's company very much.  He and his wife, Deb, came in their motorhome and brought their 2 half grown pugs Hemi (after my brother's Dodge pickup) and Hasty.  Those 2 dogs are a handful.  As my brother says, you walk in the house with them and Wrestlemania breaks out.  My family and Randy's (my brother) went to Nashville for Bama's bowl game.  Could have asked for a better outcome, but had a great time staying over and visiting some of the Christmas events.

        I don't really like to get political in the column; but I'm going to say a couple of things anyway.  I'm going to be recalling that particular holiday Christmas for as long as I'm around.  I will be celebrating it as the birth of Christ with my family and friends for the rest of my life and I hope my descendants celebrate it long after I'm gone.  I don't mean to offend anyone; but I won't apologize for my beliefs either.  If your beliefs don't coordinate with mine, that's all right.  Celebrate it as a time of giving, being with family and friends, and hoping for peace on Earth.  I don't see a downside to that.  By the way, early in Dec. each year I send Happy Hanukkah wishes to a Jewish friend of mine.  Hanukkah doesn't offend me at all; and she seems genuinely pleased that I think about her.  I am greatly disturbed by the number of people who give in to this politically correct foolishness and should know better.  They need to add a little iron to their diet and maybe it'll help straighten their backbone.  Now I'll get off my soapbox.

        Circle the date, March,19, on your calendar; and set your sights on being in Nashville, TN that day for the 3rd Annual Cecil T. Patterson Memorial Tournament.  This is about our 30th annual tournament; but the 3rd since the death of Sensei Patterson.  This is our system's biggest day of the year.  I can't wait to see all my friends from Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, and some I'm sure I'm leaving out (but not intentionally).  Our Federation is blessed to be led by Pres. John Patterson, Chief Instructor Taylor Hayden, and the rest of the Board of Directors.  Three years after Sensei's passing and we can honestly say that we are strong and growing.  I hope to see all of you there.  Almost every year at least a couple of people come up to me and tell me how much they appreciate this website (sometimes they even compliment me on this column).  I always thank them and direct them to our webmaster, Frank Austin and the Button twins who run the school in Huntsville, Al.  They have done a magnificent job of putting this together.  I'm just the figurehead.

        Anyway, hope to see all of you in Nashville 3/19.  Take care until next time.
 

                         Tom Stevenson, Roku Dan
                          Regional Director, U.S.E.W.K





Monday, October 25, 2004

        Well folks, it's great to be back.  A lot has happened in the last few months.  First, I want to thank Bob and Ilke Lander, and all their students, for the hospitality they showed Chris and Dave Button in early October; and my wife and me the next week.  Bob and Ilke have a great school located in the scenic mountains of north Georgia.  The twins and I got to go over to teach classes and meet the people the 1st 2 weeks of this month.  Great job by everyone concerned.  I will be seeing John Patterson, the Pres. of our system, this week and will give him a glowing report of our visits.

        Recently, our Fed. hosted Mr. Osaka the leader of the Fed. headquartered in Utah.  Although I didn't get to attend; the Buttons made the classes and came away very impressed.  I have it on good authority that Sensei Osaka left equally impressed with our Fed.  Plans are being drawn up to put together a team from both Feds. to represent the U.S.A. in next year's World Wado Tournament in London.  What an exciting thing to contemplate.

        Otherwise, the Federation is growing and all seems to be well.  I am missing some of my students who have just left to go to college (Roll Tide).  Just letting you guys know that we miss you; but we also are proud of you.  By the way,  Will Hickman, break a leg.  Will, a 1st kyu, has just graduated from college with a degree in theatre and has gone to work with an acting troup out of Richmond, Va.  Will is a great young man and we wish him the best of luck.

        Erica Moyers, Shodan, a 17 year old high school student here in Limestone Co. has just returned from Greece and the Paralympic Games with her bronze medal in volleyball.  Needless to say, we are proud and thrilled for her.  What an achievement for a young lady who lost her leg less than 3 years ago.

        Well, time to go.  I've got to get ready for my high school history students.  Take care.
 

                         Tom Stevenson, Roku Dan
                          Regional Director, U.S.E.W.K



June, 2004

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

        Well, here it is the end of the month of June and I guess some of you have been wondering where I've been.  You're right; there hasn't been a column posted since February; but, it's not because we haven't tried.  Sometimes computer systems break down and that's what has happened here.

        A few months ago my computer came down with a bad virus.  It took my son several days to fix everything and in the process we lost a lot of our stored information; including our address book.  I am in the process of trying to rebuild it.  While I'm at it, I'd like to say something about those folks who have nothing better to do with their time but to sit around devising ways of destroying other people's computers, people whom they don't know and will, in all probability, never meet.  I feel very sorry for you.  I have no idea what it must be like to be an obviously talented person and have such a nothing of an existence.  You are to be punished if caught; and pitied whether you are caught or not.

        We had a few other things come up; including my inability to send email to our website.  I still don't understand that one.  As a backup this time, I am sending copies of this column to 2 other people who can send to the website so that they can forward it if this one doesn't go through.  I don't understand it; I'm just reporting how it is.

        On the karate scene everything seems to be going well.  I had to postpone a trip to Blairsville, Ga. to work with Bob and Ilke Landers' school because of a health problem that I had; but I hope to reschedule for late July.  Several of us are planning on leaving EARLY on July 8 for a few days in Texas with John and Valerie Honeycutt and the students of North Texas Wado-Ryu.  Can't wait.  What a great group of people.  If I couldn't be from Bama, I wouldn't mind being a Texan.  They're good folks.  Looking forward to seeing y'all soon.  (John, tell Caroline to have the blackberry cobbler fresh and hot.)

        Until next time, take care.
                         Tom Stevenson, Roku Dan
                          Regional Director, U.S.E.W.K


February, 2004

Sun., February 08, 2004

        Well, the holidays are behind us; and I've survived another January.  I have always hated that month.  It's too cold; it gets dark too early; and the outside world seems to be done in black and white.  I also dislike February; but, at least, it's shorter than the other months.

        This year I divided the 2 months up by planning a getaway for some of the guys at a river cabin at Joe Wheeler State Park.  We had a fire in the fireplace thanks to the tender care of our "firemaster", Andy McCormick.  We brought in snacks and sandwich food for the noon meals.  Ate out for breakfast and supper.  The guys brought their guitars and we enjoyed a relaxing weekend away from "it all".

        January brought seminars taught by Mr. Kazutaka Otsuka, son of the present Grandmaster of Wado-Ryu and grandson of the style's founder, Hironori Otsuka.  My schedule prevented me from attending; but we were well represented by Dave and Chris Button, 2 of our Southern Region Board members, and the operators of our school in Huntsville, Al.  They brought back much knowledge and have been sharing with us regularly since the seminars.  I want to publicly thank both of them and especially Dave, who made all 3 seminars.  The Federation is better off having these 2 men as members.

        Mark your calendars for March 20th.  That's the day of this years Federation tournament and awards ceremony.  It will be at Stratford High School in Nashville again this year.  It is always a great day for the U.S. Eastern Wado-Ryu Karate Federation.  It's quite an experience to look out and see hundreds of white gis lined up for the opening of the ceremonies.  Our school from Texas is coming here to Athens for class on Thurs., Mar.18.  Then we'll all ride up Sat. morning for the tournament.  I can't wait to see John and Valerie Honeycutt and all the Texans.  A couple of times a year just doesn't seem to be enough to see good friends.  I hope to see all of the people I've met in the system over the years in Nashville at the tournament.

        See you next month.

                             Tom Stevenson, Roku Dan
                             Regional Director, U.S.E.W.K



November, 2003

Sun., November 23, 2003

        Here it is November 23 and the holidays are upon us.  Is it just me, or does time seem to be flying by.  I am in my 28th year of teaching; and I can't believe the school year is almost half over already.  I have been asked frequently in the last couple of years if I am planning my retirement.  No!  I love teaching; and plan on doing it for a number of years to come, God willing.  Even after I retire, I'll probably sub a few days a week just to keep in touch with the kids (and stay out of my wife's hair).  I hope to have several karate schools to watch over by that time so I can travel a couple of weeks a month and teach at those schools and give the instructors there a night off.

        As for my karate school, "The Tradition", everything is going very well.  I have between 55 and 60 students; and all are great people to work with.  I must tell you about 3 of my students that I am extremely proud of.  I hope they don't mind my mentioning their names; but Vikki Jones, Judy Roberts, and Dale Rybick completed quite an accomplishment.  These 3 women started at about the same time and in October all passed their Black Belt exam.  About a year and a half ago one of them got sick and had to be out for a fairly extended time.  The other 2 said that they were going to wait for her to return and all take the exam together.  It was a slow go as she gained back her strength and form; but the "3 old brown belt broads", as they referred to themselves, stuck it out.  They practiced extra every week for several months; took our full test, and passed.  They are now our 3 new Black Belt Ladies.  I want to thank Bill Ireland and Blaine Sherman for all the extra time they put in getting the ladies ready.  Welcome to the Yudanshi ranks Vikki, Judy, and Dale.  You have set a great example in courage and perseverance for all the students coming up.

        With Thanksgiving coming up, I must say how thankful I am for all that I have been blessed with.  I have a wonderful family that I love more than I can say.  The people that I call my friends have enriched my life just by being in it.  Thank you so much for your friendship.  I am also thankful that, after many years of searching, I have found a church.  My faith is very important to me; and it's so nice to feel totally at home with the people of Chestnut Grove United Methodist Church.

        Next comes Christmas, and my yearly regression into childhood.  I can't wait.  I've already completed most of my Christmas shopping; so I can relax and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Christmas.  It is absolutely magical.  I can't understand how some people can be Scrooges.  Sure, it's been crassly commercialized; but you don't have to let your Christmas be.  When they play Christmas carols "make a joyful noise".  As those who know me can attest to, I have never let the lack of a great voice keep me from singing.  Allow yourself to be swept away with a little of the wonder and awe of a child.  If you think Santa Claus doesn't exist, you haven't figured out what this is all about.  Relax and enjoy.

        Until next time, take care of yourself.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 6th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



March, 2003

Sun., March 23, 2003

        Well, here it is Sunday, March 23.  It has been a beautiful spring day here in north Alabama.  I guess this means that I've about made it through another winter; although I think we have 1 more cold snap ahead of us.  Not much, just enough to kill all the blossoms.  I'm going on past experience; and this is what usually happens when we have this much nice weather too early in March.  Oh well, I'll just take what comes and enjoy the great weather we've had recently.

Yesterday was a very special day for all of us in the U.S. Eastern Wado system.  It was the day of the First Annual Cecil T. Patterson Memorial Tournament in Nashville.  We've had an annual tournament in March for many years; but, since the passing of Sensei Patterson, it is now named for him.  It was a rousing success.  The competition was strong and the stands were just about full.  I want to congratulate all who participated.  I saw excellent competition and wonderful sportsmanship.  By the way, I consider the latter to be the more important of the two.

I want to especially congratulate the competitors from our schools down here.  Great job Erica, Jesse, Morgan, Candace, and Harsha (I hope I haven't forgotten anyone.)  They competed from my school; and all brought home at least 1 trophy.  Congratulations also to Kim and Jason from the Texas school (again I hope I haven't forgotten anyone).  I'll see you folks in Texas in a couple of months.

I also want to congratulate Mr. John Patterson, Mr. James Zimmerman, Mrs. Jean Ellen Zimmerman, Mr. Taylor Hayden, and Mr. Mike Vanatta for organizing and carrying out such a nice event.  It's so good to know that Sensei's legacy will be carried on down through the years.  Also, thanks to Mr. Dale Kirby and his students along with Mr. Jimmy Edwards for a superb demonstration to kick off the event.

Finally, I want to send congratulations to Mr. Bill Taylor on his promotion to 7th Dan.  I have mentioned Bill and his dojo in Murfreesboro, Tn. here before; but it's worth mentioning again what a superb martial artist he is.  There aren't many martial arts systems with the leadership in our top rank that we have.  This was made abundantly clear yesterday from the applause throughout the gym as our 7th dans were introduced.

I wish to end with humble thanks for the honor accorded me yesterday.  During the awards presentations before the start of the tournament, I was greatly surprised and highly honored to be promoted to 6th Dan.  Now I have even more to try to live up to; and try I shall.  Take care and see you soon.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 6th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu

P.S.  Today marks the 5th anniversary of the passing away of my father.  Daddy, I still love you and miss you terribly.



February, 2003

Sat., Feb.15, 2003

        Well, here it is the middle of February and I'm getting very eager in my anticipation of spring.  Oh well, at least another month to month and a half before it gets here for good.  I'll just have to hold on until then.  Most people who know me know that I despise cold weather.  I'll just about do anything to keep from getting cold.  I do have some hot news; so let's get to it.

        First,  many thanks to Bob Lander and Ilke Noens of Paradise Cabins in Blairsville, Ga. for a great weekend.  If you don't know, Bob is a new member of the Fed. and is starting a school in Blairsville.  January 31st several of the men from here in Al. went over for a weekend.  We had a chance to get to know Bob and Ilke better and get to work out a little with Bob.  It was a great weekend.  I loved the flea market (naturally), the food, and the card games; but I don't think I'll ever develop into a Monty Python fan.  Nice try guys!  I'm certain that Bob will do a great job with his school.  While I'm at it, let me give the cabins a plug.  Folks, they're great!  Hot tubs, jacuzzis, satellite tv, and all in the mountains of north Ga.  Seriously, if you are looking for a vacation spot, or a weekend getaway, or just an overnight stay when you're in that area contact them at paradise-cabins.com.  Great cabins and great hosts.  Thanks again.

        I'm sitting here tonight nursing a pulled hamstring muscle that I got at a seminar today.  Kathy Kruisenga, 6th Dan, and her Karate for Christ school in Columbia, Tn. sponsored a seminar by Sensei John Patterson, President of the Fed., and assisted by Shane Patterson (his younger brother).  I believe this was John's first seminar since taking over after his father's death.  It was a rousing success.  John promises to teach these seminars regularly and if you have the opportunity you should make a real effort to attend.  All of us came away with much to take to class the next couple of weeks.  Of course, I'll also be taking this hamstring pull along with me for a while.  Ah well, such is life.  Thanks for the invitation to the seminar Kathy and "Great job" John.

        Lastly, March 22nd is just around the corner and I can't wait.  That is the date of our annual tournament in Nashville, Tn.  This year it has been renamed the 1st Annual Cecil T. Patterson Memorial Tournament.  I have always looked forward to this day each year.  I'll get to see my friends from Texas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and all over the eastern U.S.  This is the biggest day of the year for the Fed. and I hope each of you mark your calendar and meet us at Stratford High.  Look on our links page to log on with the Fed. and you can get all the info.

        Until next time, I'm going to hobble off to bed.  Take care.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



December, 2002

Tues, December 25, 2002

        Well, here it is Christmas afternoon.  Before we know it, it will be 2003.  I hope everyone has had a great Christmas.  I don't think mine could have been any better.  My wife, our son, and I were together this morning and opened our presents together.  Having them with me at this time makes everything about this season complete.  I will enjoy the presents I got; but being with them makes me complete.

        There are big doings in the Federation.  Our new President, John Patterson, is making some changes and I can't help but think that we will be better off for them.  We may have to lose a few people at first; but we will be a stronger group in the long run.  I am excited about the direction that we are taking.

        One of the new changes is the establishment of a committee to standardize katas and techniques; and to upgrade testing.  The 2 members on the committee at present are Joe Rippy, 6th Dan, and Gene Foster, 6th Dan.  Knowing both of these gentlemen as I do, I am excited about what they will bring to the Fed. in their new capacity.  Both are excellent karateka and have the well being of the system at heart.  Good luck in this new undertaking Joe and Gene.

        I have only thought of 1 resolution I'm going to make on New Years, so far.  That is for my school to become too big for the space we have to work in.  In case you don't know, I don't really advertise.  My school has been built, for the most part, by word of mouth.  Over the years it has grown to about 55 students; all of whom contribute to making it the grand place it is to be a part of.  I'll probably make some of the usual resolutions at the last minute; and they'll last about as long as they usually do.

        Let me end by wishing all of my students, all of Bill Hardyman's students in Ardmore, Al., all of Chris and David Button's students in Huntsville, Al.,  all of John and Valerie Honeycutt's students in Texas, and Bob Lander and Ilke Noens and their future students in Blairsville, Ga. a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy and prosperous New Year.  I plan on seeing all of y'all during '03.  May God Bless you all at this special time.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



September, 2002

Sun, 29 Sep 2002

        Well, it's the last of September.  I celebrated another birthday this month.  That makes 54 of them; although I'm becoming more and more convinced that they come 2 times a year as you get older.  Oh well, such is life. When I look at the people that I have in my life I sure wouldn't trade them in to get to live my life over.  I feel that I'm truly blessed.

        I want to mention that our Webmaster, Frank Austin, has suffered the loss of his mother during this month.  I know that he is going through a tough time right now; and he has our support and best wishes.  Frank is a valued member of our Alabama group in particular and the USEWK in general.  In all honesty, without Frank I doubt if this site would even exist; and if it did I'm sure it would only be a shadow of what we have.

        I also want to mention Mr. Cecil Patterson's annual summer seminar held a few weeks ago.  As usual, I had a ball, left wore out, and was not surprised at all to find that I don't know it all yet.  To all of the approximately 75 Black Belts that were there I want to say thanks for helping me have a great day.  I also want to, especially, thank Mr. Sam Ingram who was my partner for the day.  It had been a number of years since Sam and I had the opportunity to work out together and I hope he enjoyed it as much as I did.  I'm looking forward to another opportunity to spend some quality time climbing up off of the dojo floor with you, Sam.  I have also noticed that now that I'm over 50 it takes a day for the soreness to go away.  I'm sure the seminar will be held again next year and if you have the chance you ought to show up.  By the way, while I'm on the subject I want to personally thank Mr. Bill Taylor for making his beautiful dojo in Murfreesboro, Tn. available to us again this year.  It's a great place to have the seminar.  The guys from Alabama get a double treat by getting to drive up highway 231 early on Sat. morning; and it's always a beautiful drive.  We're usually a little to done in to pay much attention on the way back.

        Finally, the Sept. issue of the USEWK Wado Update is now on the system website.  There is an article there by me.  It concerns an episode in my life from a number of years ago.  I haven't told the story much since then; but since it's out I would like for all of you to read it.  It says what I truly believe about the value of karate training.  You can link up with it from this site.  Until later, take care.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



July, 2002

Wed, 31 July, 2002

        Wow!  Where has this summer gone?  Seems like we finished the last school year yesterday and tomorrow we start the new one.  It has been a very busy summer; but a very profitable one, also.  The first week after school was out, Chris and Dave Button, of the Huntsville school, and I set out for Texas.  We taught 4 classes and tested and promoted North Texas Wado-Ryu school head John Honeycutt to Sandan.  Congratulations to him and to Kim Day for getting her purple belt.  We had a wonderful trip; if you don't count the car trouble on the way out there.  John and his wife Valerie, Nidan, are wonderful hosts; and the students and families are wonderful people to work with.  It was a memorable occasion for us.

        Just a few weeks later it was time for the annual men's summer outing.  This year we went to Land Between the Lakes in Tn./Ky.  To say that we had a great time would be an understatement.  We had a fantastic trip.  Four days of camping, eating, sightseeing, eating, antiqueing, eating, cardplaying, and did I mention, eating?  This was our 8th consecutive year; and we've never had a bad trip.  We've already started planning next year's trip to the Louisiana Gulf coast.  I have mentioned this before; but it's worth mentioning again; I highly recommend this practice to any of the schools who may be looking in on our site.  The guys that go thoroughly enjoy each others' company.  This is something we anticipate for months in advance.

        With fall coming on, I think most schools will see an increase in enrollment.  We do every year after all the summer sports and vacations are over.  Now is the time to dedicate yourself to your training.  With that in mind, I want to urge all who can to attend Mr. Cecil Patterson's annual summer seminar coming up next month at Bill Taylor's school in Murphreesboro, Tn.  As you may know, Mr. Patterson, Hachi Dan, is the President and founder of the U.S. Eastern Wado system; and, I'm proud to say, my instructor.  The seminar is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 24/25.  Check the link to the U.S. Eastern system's website and I'm sure the date will be posted as soon as it is finalized.  Hope to see all of you there.

        As a final note, I'm going to address myself to you readers and our webmaster, Shodan Frank Austin, at the same time.  For the last couple of months Frank has been spending his time attending to his mother who has been gravely ill.  This is where Frank should be at this time.  If it seems as if the site isn't being updated as often as usual; that's because Frank's priorities are in order and he has our wholehearted support.  Frank, our thoughts and prayers are with both you and your mother at this time.  Chris and Dave are keeping me informed.  God Bless both of you.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



June, 2002

Wed, 12 June, 2002

        Well, here it is June already.  I have just finished my 26th year in the classroom and find myself loving teaching as much as ever.  Don't get me wrong; I'm certainly glad for the break.  I must admit to being pretty well spent by May this year.  Must be age, but, considering the alternative, I'll take it.

        I must mention the trip to Texas last week that Senseis Chris and David Button and I undertook to work with the school out there.  I can't begin to express what a great time we had; and what wonderful people we had the opportunity to work with.  I refuse to make a big deal about the problems we encountered getting there and getting back home.  Let me just say that it was an adventure.  I'll focus on the time spent there.  John and Valerie Honeycutt were our hosts and besides being dear friends they are just plainly great people.  We were able to teach 4 classes while there and I want to congratulate all who were there for an excellent job.  Special congratulations to Kim Day for receiving her Green belt.

        While there we had the opportunity to spend time with them outside of the dojo; and, again, thanks for the hospitality.  I believe that surrounding myself with good people makes me a better person; and I was honored by the company of the Texans.  By the way, I am VERY proud to announce that John Honeycutt received his 3rd Degree while there.  Congratulations John on a job very well done.  I'll see you and Jason next week on our annual men's outing.

        This gives me the chance to mention this again.  If you don't know, the men in our school take a trip together every summer.  This will be our 8th consecutive year; and I can't wait.  To make it short, we have a ball.  We do something different each year and this year we will be spending several days camping in the Land Between the Lakes region of southern Kentucky.  I highly recommend this activity.  It can be done fairly cheaply and that's how we try to do it.  Camping, hiking, sightseeing, and just laying around vegging out (which seems to be what we do best).

        Hope everyone has a great summer.  Until next time.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



March, 2002

Mon, 25 Mar, 2002

        Well, the 15th Annual U. S. Eastern Wado-Ryu Karate Do Federation Championships has come and gone; and what a day it was!  First, I must say that I wasn't at my best yesterday.  Although some people might disagree.  I woke up Friday morning with bad sinus problems and by Sat. morning I didn't have much voice left.  I guess some might have thought it was an improvement.  I have no voice today; and my wife seems to be enjoyong the quiet immensely.  Oh well!

        There is so much to mention about yesterday that I almost don't know where to begin.  I suspect I should start with the sad news.  Shihan Patterson reported that a student in Bill Taylor's dojo in Murfreesboro, Tn. had passed away while working out.  I am ashamed to admit that I can't seem to remember the gentleman's name.  I do want to extend our thoughts, sympathies, and prayers to the family first; and to Bill and all of the students there.  This must be a very tough time for you and you have our very best wishes.

        I want to congratulate Jeffrey "Buck" Ford for a fantastic job as Master of Ceremonies.  Buck is a great guy and karateka.  Thomas Mitchell always brings chills when he sings the National Anthem; but yesterday was something special.  Thomas is recovering from an auto accident and looking great.  If anything, he is singing better than ever.  Keith Fall always does a great job reciting the Wado pledge before the tournament; and yesterday was no exception.  The system is fortunate to have these 3 men as members; and I am fortunate to be able to call them friends.

        Before we started, Buck read a letter written by Sensei David Deaton concerning sportsmanship, respect, and the real importance of the competition.  It was beautifully written and read and I found myself echoing the sentiments of those around me at the end.  All we could do was say "Amen".

        I was honored to receive an award from Mr. Patterson; and as I walked to the front to get it I had to walk by the 6th and 7th degree leaders of our system that were arrayed in front of the dais.  Any pride I might have felt was quickly doused by my feeling of inadequacy at being in the presence of so much knowledge and talent.  I was especially proud that John and Valerie Honeycutt also won an award.  I am their instructor, although they live in Texas.  They are doing wonderful things with their school there.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend Friday evening with them and all the great people who came all the way from Texas for the tournament.  I'll see y'all in June.  ( Congratulations Kim and any others who got trophies.  You're all winners to me.)

        It was great to see the competition, and after the divisions were finished, to see the competitors and judges standing around and talking in an atmosphere of cameraderie.  I didn't get to stay for all the competition; but what I saw I liked.  All in all it was a great day for the system.  My congratulations to James and Jean Ellen Zimmerman, John and Shaine Patterson, all of the workers, and to my instructor Mr. Cecil T. Patterson for an outstanding job.  I was proud to be there and a part of it.

        Until next month, take care.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



February, 2002

Mon, 25 Feb, 2002

        Well, it's Monday afternoon Feb. 25th and a beautiful late winter day here in north Alabama.  I have a couple of topics that I want to mention, so I'll get right to it.  First, I want to tell Ms. Kathy Kruisenga and her students in Columbia, Tn. how much I enjoyed being with them yesterday afternoon.  They are a great group of karateka and people.  Sensei Andy McCormick and I drove up to attend a seminar given by my instructor and the President of the U.S. Eastern Wado-Ryu Federation, Mr. Cecil Patterson.   As usual, I enjoyed myself and came away with my normal sense of inadequacy.  I enjoyed the warmup conducted by Mr. John Patterson, 7th Dan and Mr. Patterson's oldest son.  Also present helping conduct the seminar was Sensei Patterson's youngest son, Shane.  The 3 of them had a very successful afternoon; and the approximately 40 karateka who attended got the benefit.  I would also like to tell all of the lower ranks that were there to stick with it.  The journey you have undertaken is well worth what you have to put into it.  Again, thanks Mr. Patterson and Kathy.  It's always a pleasure to be around y'all.

        Next, on the list is the date March 23, 2002.  For any of you who don't know what that date means; that is the date for the annual USEWKF innersystem tournament and the biggest day of the year for the members.  This year it will be held at Stratford High School in Nasville, Tn.  I would like to extend an invitation to all of you readers to be there on that day.  While it is a closed tournament (open to only USEWKF members); anyone can come and spectate for a nominal fee.  This year Senseis David Deaton and Dale Kirby are going to put on demonstrations prior to the start of the tournament.  That in itself will be worth the price of admission.  They are 2 wonderful and dedicated martial artists.

        I am looking forward to that day.  Taking a bunch of my students to the tournament, meeting friends that I don't get to see enough (that especially includes my great friends from Texas), and a lot of great competition.  It is always a highlight of my year.  I'm looking forward to making more new friends this year.

        Until next month, take care.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



January, 2002

Thu, 3 Jan, 2002

        Well, here it is 2002.  A new year always brings moments of reflection upon the past and hopes for the future; and this year will be no different.  I want to wish all of you a very successful year in all facets of your life; and may your Wado journey be full of learning, accomplishment, and revelation.

        I want to mention a special meeting that I was privileged to attend a couple of weeks ago.  It was a called meeting of the Board of Directors and others (of which I was one) held by Mr. Patterson in Nashville.  We had a wonderful lunch together; and then got down to business.  The first big item on the agenda was to vote on reinstating Mr. Joe Rippy, 6th Dan of Knoxville, Tn., back into the system.  After Mr. Patterson and then Joe addressed the group; and after a question and answer period, the vote was taken.  I am proud to announce that, by a unanimous vote, Mr. Joseph Rippy is once again an integral part of the U.S. Eastern Wado Ryu Federation.  Welcome home, Joe, we have missed you.  I hope that many of you who read this and are members of the Fed. will get the opportunity to meet and work with Joe in the near future.  He is a great person and a wonderful karateka.  In all honesty, Joe was one of the people in the Fed. that I really admired during my early years.  I am especially grateful for the time that we got to spend together right after I got my Black Belt.  He will be a great asset to our system.

        The rest of the meeting was spent making small but needed changes to the Fed's. bylaws.  It was my opportunity to watch the senior people in the system go through the process of upgrading the system.  I was very impressed by what I saw and heard.  All ideas and opinions were given thought and credence.  In short, the system is growing fairly rapidly; new schools are being opened, and we are having growing pains.  We are considering some new paperwork options to give the larger schools a bit of a break in that respect.  There wasn't one problem there that was caused by a system in decline.  I came away from the meeting feeling very good about the USEWF.

        I want to thank Mr. John Patterson, Mr. David Deaton, Mr. Taylor Hayden, Mr. Wayne Tyler and all of the other Board members for their leadership.  I am proud ( and more than a little bit humbled) to be a part of this orgabnization.  See all of you next month.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



November, 2001

      Well, here it is the middle of November and I find myself with a couple of things to write about.  First, last week Sensei David Button, of Huntsville, and I travelled to Midlothian, Texas to teach some classes at the school there run by John and Valerie Honeycutt.  As I have mentioned before, John and Val are dear friends who used to be in my school here before moving back to Texas and starting a school there.  It was great to see both of them and get to spend some time with them and their students.  We taught 3 classes while there, and everyone conducted themselves like true karateka, from youngest to oldest and lowest rank to highest.  It was a real treat to get to work with people who wanted to learn.  While there, I was able to promote Kim Day and Ruben Cantu to their orange belts.  Congratulations Kim and Ruben on a job very well done.  I also take great pride in announcing the promotion of Valerie Honeycutt to Nidan.  She and John have done a great job with the school; and it shows in the way it keeps growing.  I want to again thank all of you for the hospitality shown to David and me.  You are truly fine people and I am fortunate to be able to call you friends.  By the way, I hope to see a bunch of you next March for the system tournament; and look for me (and some surprise guests) next summer.

      As I lay in my bed at the Ramada Inn overlooking the Mississippi River in historic Vicksburg, Ms. Sunday night, I watched them announce the retirement of Mark McGuire.  I had suspected that it would happen; but it still was a sad moment.  Those of us who are fans of sports for all that is good about them want to hold on to our heroes as long as we can.  However, knowing the character of the man I sensed it would be his last season during the last month of this past season.  He could have signed the contract extention; scooped up the $30 million and just hung on for a couple more seasons.  He would likely have moved up a few spots on the record books and the fans would have cheered just to see that mighty swing; but that's not Mark McGuire.  It is rare in this day and age for a sports star to set himself up as a role model and then live up to it; but he did.  I don't think I'll ever forget watching him cry as he donated a million dollars of his first Cardinals contract to set up and fund a home for abused children.  Then there was the absolute class with which he broke Roger Maris' season homerun record.  He brought the Maris family to the stadium and after the homerun went to the stands to share the moment with them.  He even gestured skyward as though to acknowledge Roger looking down at him (and, I believe, smiling).  His son was there as the batboy so he could witness his father's moment.  I admit freely to tears as he scooped up his son for a very special hug.  I guess that makes me a sentimental fool; but I don't care.  Any father worth the title knows how special a moment like that is between father and son.  And now it's over.  What a great run.  A power display of awesome proportions.  His homeruns per at bat ratio is the best in history; and no one else even comes close.  Mark joins my list of Nolan Ryan, Richard Petty, Larry Bird, Jack Nicklaus, and Walter Peyton as men who were among the very best who ever lived at what they did and who did it with class, always.  Thanks for the memories, Big Mac.  I know that you'll be a success in whatever you choose to do now.
 

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



October, 2001

        I have purposely allowed a couple of weeks go by since the events of Sept. 11 took place to give myself a cooling off period and to get a little perspective on things.  It looks like the time to comment has arrived, so here goes.  First, let me say that I was as shocked as anybody else on that fateful morning.  I was sitting in my classroom with 30 10th grade American History students (how appropriate) when the school secretary knocked on my door and told me to turn on my tv, that an airplane had flown into the World Trade Center.  I turned on the set and immediately became enrapt on the screen.  As the news commentators were speculating on whether or not it was an accident; I got this very bad feeling and, even before the second one hit, I knew it was intentional.  I don't claim to be psychic; but I knew that this was a planned attack on the U.S. from the first moment I watched.  I cancelled class that day by telling them that nothing I could teach them was more important, at that moment, than what they were seeing.  Just like my parents remember where they were and what they were doing when Pearl Harbor was bombed; and my generation remembers the same about President Kennedy's assassination; American school kids of today will remember Sept. 11, 2001 for the rest of their lives.

        I tried to answer their questions as best I could; but I'm my answers all weren't adequate to the situation.  I did stress to them, as I'm stressing it to you, that our world had just changed forever.  No longer do the Atlantic and Pacific keep us safe and isolated from the rest of the world.  In simple terms, we were sucker punched.  As karateka, I'm sure your instructors have given you rules to follow about keeping aware of the presence and actions of people who might wish to do you harm.  Good advice for people and nations to follow.  Regretfully, the U.S. has a long history of getting sucker punched.  We also have a long history of being underestimated by our enemies.  We regularly hang our dirty laundry out in public.  We protest and march in the streets.  Our leaders call each other names and roll in the mud with each other like hogs on a hot summer day.  It would be next to impossible to explain our way of doing things to someone who just arrived here.  No, you would have to live here for years and watch the process work to learn one of the true strengths of America.  True, we fuss and fight; but we do it like a family.  When an outsider gets involved we band together.  That's what they're going to have to find out.

        I have every faith in President Bush and his team.  I couldn't care less that he's not the world's best public speaker; he's a leader.  That's what always makes the difference.  In situations like this you find a leader; and his firm steadfastness is what is needed.  Because this not going to be a short, clean war.  It will be very time consuming and at times very bloody.  America will suffer more losses; both military and civilian.  We must remember that they declared war on us and take the steps necessary to rid ourselves and the world of organized terrorism.  One thing is certain; they are fanatics and fanatics can't be dealt with like they are rational human beings.  That's true of any fanatic, religious or otherwise.  We can wish it was otherwise; but we must live in and deal with reality.

        I do wish to mention the dramatic heroism that we were privileged to witness during those first few days after the attack.  Someone once said about soldiers in a great battle "uncommon valor was a common virtue" and it certainly was in New York and Washington after the attack.  The people on the doomed airplane who attacked the hijackers and let the plane crash before it could reach its target showed a spirit that I sit in awe of.  My thoughts and my prayers are with the victims and their families.  They are also with those Americans who must seek out and destroy these organized terror rings.  I have a feeling the terrorists are going to reach a point that the ones left are going to be thinking that they wish they had just left the U.S. alone.  Sorry, you have sown the wind; now you will reap the whirlwind.

        Until next month, take care of yourselves.
 

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



September, 2001

        Well, here it is the end of August.  That means that school is back in session, footballs are in the air, and Mr. Patterson's annual seminar is upon us.  In fact, the Black Belt seminar was held yesterday the 25th.  Once again, it was held at Bill Taylor's beautiful facility in Murphreesboro, Tn.  At 9 AM yesterday about 50 yudansha from 7th Dan David Deaton (Chairman of the USEWKF Board of Directors) down to new 1st Dans lined up for this highly anticipated event.   As always, it was a great day. I left tired and proud to be a part of it all.

        I'd like to mention a few things about the day.   First, I have been nursing a bad left hip that has been causing me to limp all this week.   Fortunately, it was better yesterday and only caused me a little discomfort.   In fact, it may have been a blessing in disguise since it caused me to relax and not try to overpower every technique.   While very far from perfection, it was one of my better days. (They seem to be coming fewer and farther between lately.)   Next, I want to personally congratulate Mr. Wayne Tyler on being promoted to his 7th Dan.   Wayne is one of those senior people in the system that I really look up to as both a karateka and a person.   I don't wish to embarass him, but I tend to personalize things; and when I watch him perform I know what the phrase "poetry in motion" means.   A level I'll never know; but can always strive for.   Also, I want to mention Jeffrey (Buck) Ford for the greatest line I've ever heard in a karate class. Any of you who have never met Buck have missed a treat.   He is simply one of the finest gentlemen I've met in 23 years in the system.   He's also the system's webmaster and does a great job.  "Keep flowing" Buck.  (Inside joke.)

        Next, I want to mention my partner for the day, Mr. Quentin Fussell.  I always try to make a new acquaintance and friend at these things; and I consider Quentin to be both.   His willingness to work with me and teach and learn together will be a good memory for many years.   We both were nursing bad hips (His worse than mine.) and we seemed to be perfect partners.  Good luck and I hope to have the opportunity to work with you again, Quentin.  Next, I want to thank Chris and David Button who run the Huntsville school and their student Frank Austin, Shodan and our webmaster, for helping me represent Alabama at the seminar.

        Finally, I'm going to repeat what I said last year.   There should have been at least twice as many people at the seminar.   The date was released at least a month and a half beforehand and I refuse to believe that hundreds (and we have that many) of Black Belts had unavoidable business elsewhere.   You are the ones missing out.

        See you next month.
 

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu

        To John Patterson; hope you are feeling better.   I've had it; so I can both sympathize and empathize.



August, 2001

        Wow!  Has the last month ever been an exciting time?  I have a couple of things to report on that help to prove my point.  First, I spent 2 weeks in July teaching movement skills at a privately run performing arts center called "Ars Nova" in Huntsville, Al.  What an experience!  I spent those 2 weeks surrounded by a group of very talented young people.  I sat in on some of the other movement classes held by Mr. David Herriott, a former dancer with the Winnipeg Ballet and present artistic director of the Huntsville Ballet.  Needless to say, I learned a great deal.  I was surprised and pleased to see how closely a lot of the moves they did in class resembled what we do in karate class.

        I also sat in on some of Mr. Dwayne Craft's drama classes.  Dwayne is the drama teacher at a local high school.  I was entranced not just by what they were doing, but by the enthusiasm they were doing it with.  I want to thank both men for what I saw and learned during that time.  But most of all, I want to thank the kids.  Y'all are great.  On the last Sat. night each teacher did a short demonstration with the kids of what they had been working on; then for a grand finale, an hour and a half of singing and dancing by the students.  In 2 weeks they had put together vignettes from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and "Oklahoma".  It was fantastic.  What voices!  What dancing! And all in 2 weeks.  I want to thank Ars Nova owner Ginger Beazley for giving me a great opportunity.  And to Liv, Thomas, Allison, Alicia, John, my buddy Corinne, and all the others I want to say that the sky is the limit for you guys.  Thanks to you all for a great time.

        Then my brother called and I had another opportunity arise.  My brother, Randy, is the plant manager for the Lockheed-Martin plant in Troy, Al.  Seems there has been a rash of assaults on women in that area recently and he wanted to know if I could plan a self-defense class for them.  Obviously, I said yes.  Vicki (my wife) and I left early Thursday morning and drove down to Troy.  I taught the seminar that afternoon and it was really well received.  The ladies did great and I think they got something out of it.  I know that their attention and effort really inspired me.  Now we have to come up with at least 1 more trip down for another class.  All that and we got to visit family for a couple of days.  I hope I don't sound too prejudiced, but I'm lucky to have some really good people in my family and we don't get to spend enough time together.  By the way, I enjoyed teaching the class and will work to make other classes there even better; but I could do without the reason I got called.  I hope they find this low life and, as my father used to say, throw him under the jail and lose the key.  Maybe that type of behavior is something for a future column.

        By the way,  Sensei Patterson, along with several of the senior instructors in the system, will be conducting the annual summer seminars at Mr. Bill Taylor's beautiful dojo in Murphreesboro, Tn. the 25th (Black Belts) and 26th (Kyu Ranks) of this month.  Info and registration can be found on the system's website.  Hope to see all of you there.  It's always a great day.

        See you next month.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



June, 2001

        I've got 2 completely different topics to address this month, so I'll not waste time and get right to it.  First, I want to say that May 19 was a red letter day in the history of Alabama Wado Ryu.  That Sat. Mr. Cecil Patterson, along with the able assistance of his sons John and Shane, conducted seminars for kyu ranks and then Black Belts at the Athens Rec. Center gymnasium.  It had been several years since Sensei had been here and he had been missed.  It was a great class for both groups.  We all, I especially, made our share of mistakes; but we learned a lot and came away from it better karateka.  That's what it is all about.

        It is always a pleasure and an honor to have Mr. Roe Carter at our schools; and he and his son, Bill, made the trip down for the classes.  Besides being one of my early instructors, Roe is a fine gentleman and an excellent martial artist.  He, along with his wife, Jenny, son, Bill, and daughter, Maria make up a family that any group could be proud of and I'm glad they're in our federation.

        Speaking of Bill Carter, I must congratulate him and Erica Moyers (yes, the young lady who lost her foot last Oct.).  Both were promoted to Shodan at the seminar by Sensei Patterson.  I'm proud of Bill's accomplishment; but words can't describe how I feel about what all Erica has had to overcome.  She still has a way to go in her adjusting to her situation; but I feel honored to know this terrific young lady.  Again, congratulations to both of you.

        Next,  I just returned from a trip to the southwest.  It had been a dream of mine for years to tour New Mexico, Arizona, etc.  Well, I have a friend who had the same dream so we went. That's right; as they say we just up and did it.  We wanted to see the country so we couldn't fly.  We don't have any local train service and we didn't want to drive out there.  That's right; we took the bus.  Let me say right now, buses are not designed for people over 6 foot tall.  I'm 6'4" and my friend is 6'9".  Yep! I was miserable and he was worse.  But what a trip.

        In Albuquerque we rented a car and headed for Santa Fe.  I'm going to start using the same adjectives to describe things; but I don't know any other words that will do.  Santa Fe is fantastic.  Then across the continental divide (it sleeted on us) and up to Mesa Verde in southern Colorado.  The ancient cliff dwellings and the view of the snow-covered Rockies from 8,000 feet up was truly awesome.  Down through the 4 Corners region and through Monument Valley in northern Arizona.  This is where many of the great westerns were filmed and the landscapes are unbelievable.  Next stop was the Grand Canyon where we watched the sunset one evening and the sunrise the next morning. (By the way, it was 30 degrees that morning.  Good thing we thought to take our coats.)  As I've told people, nothing that I've ever seen or done prepared me for the Grand Canyon.  It can't be described to anyone who hasn't seen it.  I now know why it is considered one of the wonders of the world.  Then down to Flagstaff and across the painted desert (it really is painted in pastels) back to Albuquerque and on home.

        An exhausting trip; and one I'll be eternally grateful for taking.  The reason I'm including this is to tell you that the U.S. has been richly blessed by God.  Every once in a while, break out of your shell and go see some of this magnificent creation we've been given.  See if you can sit on the edge of the Grand Canyon and question the existence of God.

        See you next month.
 

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



May, 2001

        Last month the Button twins, who run our school in Huntsville, and I spent several days in Tifton, Ga. visiting some dear old friends.  Donna Metzger, a Shodan at my school, and her family had moved to Tifton about 2 1/2 years ago; and it was my first opportunity to pay them a visit.  To Donna, her husband Jimmy, son David, and daughter Robin I would like to say a heartfelt "Thank you" for opening your home to us and making us feel so welcome.  I know I sound like a broken record sometimes; but I keep realizing over and over how fortunate I am to get to meet so many wonderful people during the time that I spend in karate.  Getting to spend a few days with them would have made for a great trip by itself; but as you will see things got even better.

        A few months ago Donna contacted me and said that she was ready to get back into training but that there weren't any Wado schools in her area.  I told her she should start one; but she wasn't comfortable with teaching so I told her to check what was available and get back with me.  Awhile later she called and we discussed what was there for her to choose from.  Her choices amounted to a commercial school ( I prefer to leave the style unnamed) and a school of the traditional style known as Shito-Ryu.  I told her immediately that with those choices she had no choice; introduce herself to the instructor of the traditional school and get to work.  She did; and appears to be progressing well in her new school.

        When Donna found out that we were coming, she arranged for the twins and me to attend class at her new school.  This turned out to be the icing on the cake for the trip.  There I met Sensei Harvey Johnson and some of his students.  (My apologies, Harvey, if you don't use that specific title.  However, my readers understand what that title means; so it fits.)  We had a wonderful visit in their dojo.  The twins say I talked too much again.  I don't mind them saying I talked too much; but the "again" really hurts.  Anyway, I feel as if I not only got to reacquaint myself with some old friends; but got to make some new ones.  I always feel honored to walk on someone else's dojo floor.  That is even more true when it is a school where the traditions of the martial arts are alive and well and being exihibited by everyone there from the instructor on down to the lowest ranking student.  That is what I saw that night.  They welcomed strangers and I hope they feel as if they have made new friends, also.  Everyone had a chance to learn from the others.  Harvey, Tex, and all the rest, you are always welcome at any of our schools up here.  I will be back in the not too distant future for another visit; and I promise not to talk so much.  (Hope that satisfies Chris and David.)

        As you can see, a great trip.  I know that Donna has a good new karate home; and I've made new friends.  Again to all the Metzger's "Thank you so much for your hospitality."

        See you next month.
 

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu

P.S.  Sensei Patterson and John Patterson were at the Athens Recreation Center at my school on May 19th for seminars.  Kyu rank class was from 10 til 11:30 and Black Belt class was from 12:30 until. Fee was $25 and all Wado-Ryu practitioners were invited.  If you haven't had the pleasure of one of Sensei's classes you have missed a treat.



March, 2001

        As I sit here on Sun. night, March 18, I can't help but think back to yesterday and the 14th Annual U.S. Eastern Wado-Ryu Federation tournament and awards ceremony held in Columbia, Tn.  What a day!  I am always energized for several weeks after the tournament; and this year is no exception.  First, let me say what a wonderful job Mr. John Patterson did standing in for his father, Sensei Patterson, yesterday.  (More on this in a bit.)  John is a true gentleman and an able leader.

        As I watched the marching in ceremony, I looked around me at some of the senior people that were there and in places of responsibility. It would be my guess, but I can't think of another organization of 1 style that can bring together, IN HARMONY, so many top notch and widely known martial artists.  I know that I have mentioned these names before; but my goodness when you can look around and see David Deaton, Taylor Hayden, Dale Kirby, and Wayne Tyler, not to mention many others all gathered at the same place at the same time as members of the same organization, you really have a sense of pride.  (And, in my case, joy that almost 23 years ago I ran into Mr. Don Hendrix and chose Wado as the Way for me.)  There were so many others that I got a chance to meet yesterday that I consider friends and people who have helped me on the way.  It was great to see Roe Carter, Eddie Parker, Gene Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Z, Mike Vanatta, David Rhodes, Keith Fall, Shane Patterson, Gary Steele, Bill Taylor, Eric Silver, and others who I'm sure will come to me after this is posted.  It was a pleasure to see you all.

        I mentioned Mr. Don Hendrix's name, as he was my first instructor, and I have some disturbing news to pass along.  I recently heard that Don has cancer and I don't know any more than that.  I hesitate to mention it since I don't know exactly what the situation is; but maybe some of you know Don and would like to send your wishes for a full and speedy recovery as I send the best wishes and prayers of all of us here in Alabama.

        Also, let me wish a speedy recovery from a serious sinus infection to Sensei Patterson.  You know it had to be a bad one for him to miss the tournament yesterday.  All the best wishes for a speedy recovery from me and all the folks in Bama, Sensei.

        Finally, to John and Valerie Honeycutt and all the folks from Texas who travelled for many hours to visit us and attend the tournament; thanks so much.  It was great to see all of you.  Some were already friends; and the rest are new friends.  Hope to see all of you sometime this summer.  By the way, they make gis that will fit you Nicki; just ask Valerie. (See, I can pick on you from long distance.)

        Until next month, keep learning and keep dropping in on me.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu



January, 2001

        As I sit here on a cold Sunday evening in January, I can't help but reflect on the events of the last few months and especially the last month.  I guess I had better fill you in.  First, our annual Christmas supper gathering of the schools in Alabama.  What can I say?  It was a great night.  Wonderful food, terrible weather (as usual), and 100 people gathered in a building that was supposed to seat 80.  As I said at the beginning of the evening, there was no room to be strangers in.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and I know I did.  We all had the opportunity to, literally, rub elbows with some wonderful people and get to know each other better.  I will publically repeat the promise I made that night.  Next year there will be plenty of room.

        I know that you are all anxious to hear how Erica is doing since the loss of her foot so I won't wait any longer.  She is back in class dressed out in her gi and taking part.  She is finding out about her limitations right now; but my money is on her to once more surprise us all.  By the way, she is also dressing out for her junior high basketball games and playing in a Sat. church league.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  Oh yes, Wed. the 17th was her 14th birthday.  Her mother brought cake, snacks, and drinks Tues. night and we ended class a little early to give her a surprise party.  Happy Birthday, Erica.  And all the very best for the future.

        A new year always seems to give us a chance at a new start.  We have a lot of plans for this year.  They ought to keep us busy.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Hope this year can be looked back on as a great one for all of you, too.  See you next month.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu

P.S.  I almost forgot.  Charles Roberts, Sandan, one of our instructors just had surgery this past week.  He has several weeks to go before he can start working out again.  We're looking forward to having our "Great Buddha" back with us.  Get well soon, Buddy.



November, 2000

        If you read this column each month, you are aware that it has been more than a month since I wrote the last one.  I held off writing it for a reason.  I wanted to wait until after the Texas trip so I could report on it.  The trip is over and I will report on it.  Unfortunately, I will have to report on something else too.

            First,  Let me speak for Assistant Instructor Charles Roberts and myself when I say that the trip to Texas was just plain great.  We flew to Dallas Fri. morning the 27th and were met by John Honeycutt who, along with his wife Valerie, runs the North Texas Wado Ryu school in Midlothian.  We had the opportunity to work with John and Val Fri. night.  Saturday morning brought us the "munchkin" class and Sat. afternoon the adults.  Let me congratulate all who showed up; you did great.  I was honored to meet many of the parents and family members of the students.  I always say that one of the things I love about being in this system is all the great people that I get to meet; and Texas has a lion's share of wonderful folks.  Charles and I truly were made welcome with "old fashioned" southern hospitality.

        To all the munchkins; I appreciate deeply your attendance, your attention, and your effort.  You are a credit to your families and your school.  To Richard, Lonnie, Jason, Michael, and Chance (I don't count you in the munchkin category) let me say that I appreciate your attendance and your hard work.  I deeply believe that we need many more strong, positive male role models in the lives of our young people. Y'all impressed me as strong, eager to learn guys and you will be a valuable asset in the school.

        To John and Valerie, thanks for opening your home to us.  You remain dear friends as always; and you are doing great work with your school.  To the parents and families that I met, I was honored by your presence and all of the kind words you had for us.  Finally, to my buddy Maddie, it was great seeing you again (even though I was devastated to find that I can't compete with Barbie in your eyes. (That's an inside joke.)  There should be a few pictures up on the site within a week.

            Now comes the hard part.  While Charles and I were in Texas, an event was taking place in Alabama that has had a profound effect on my school and all of its members.  One of our brown belts was involved in an accident.  The result was that Erica had to have her left foot amputated.  Erica is first and foremost a super kid. Very athletic, she plays all of her school sports and was scheduled to take her Black Belt test in March.  At 13, she already catches your eye as she works with new students.  In a phrase, we were all devastated. BUT we had failed to consider the true strength of this young lady.  Her courage and determination have been awe-inspiring for all who have witnessed it.  I am certain that I speak for all of the members of my school when I say that you have our admiration and you are certainly our inspiration.  I've seen her family deal with this blow and come together as only people of strong faith and deep love for each other can do.  I am humbled by your example.

        What words to say have been very difficult to find because I don't want to unnecessarily invade the family's privacy; and because I just didn't know how to say what I wanted to.  I hope that somewhere in my rambling you have caught what I'm trying to say.  I'll end by paraphrasing 2 famous quotes.  First from the Bible; "and the children shall lead them".  Erica is certainly leading all of us.  Second, from William Shakespeare, not only a literary genius but someone who understood what it means to be human as well as anyone ever has.  In a scene from one of his plays a major character has just been told of the devastating loss of his entire family. His friends gather around him and tell him to take it like a man.  With tears in his eyes, he looks at them and replies, " I shall take it like a man; but I shall also feel it like a man."

        Erica has withstood this better than many men or women could have; but there is more difficulty ahead.  Don't be afraid to let it go when you need to. This from a 52 year old man who still has the ability to cry when I need to.  You WILL get your Black Belt from us one day soon and you WILL teach for me one day.

                                 Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                 Chairman, Alabama Wado-Ryu

             P.S. Thanks for the flowers for Erica Mr. Patterson.  You remain an inspiration to us all .



September, 2000

                     THANK YOU, SENSEI PATTERSON

        As you can see, the topic of this months column is the president of our system and my instructor Sensei Cecil T. Patterson.  On Aug. 26 he conducted one of the best seminars that I have ever attended.  This was the Black Belt day of his annual summer seminar; and for the approximately 55 to 60 yudanshi who showed up it was a great day.  What a pleasure it was to see Mr. Patterson walk in flanked by both of his sons ready for a good days work.  As the father of a young man who will turn 21 in a couple of days I know how proud he must be of John and Shane.

        As to the days work, let me just say that for a few days afterward even my hair was sore.  I think I developed an intimate relationship with parts of the carpet on the floor of Mr. Bill Taylor's beautiful facility in Murfreesboro, Tn.  Seriously, it was a great day.  We worked out for a total of 5 hours; with about an hour for lunch and breaks combined added to that.  As I told some folks in the dressing room; it must have been something special when you walk away physically exhausted, mentally exhausted, and with a smile on your face. I have to admit that for a series of reasons that are not important to the column; I was not in the kind of physical shape that I would have liked to have been in.  That always bothers me.  I like to workout; so the rigor of the day doesn't bother me.  What does bother me is a deep seated fear of not living up to the rank I hold.  I realize that I will never have the sudden speed and explosiveness of Jimmy Edwards or the grace and fluidity of movement of Wayne Tyler.

        This brings me to the final point.  Some folks might not like this; but here goes.  I know that there are literally 100's of black belts in our system who live within 100 miles of the workout location.  I also know that there are some legitimate excuses for not attending.  We had some unavoidable problems among our group this year; and I've had things come up on occasion before that have prevented me from attending.  Having said that, I don't believe for a minute that everyone who wasn't there had an excuse.  Where were you?  You have an investment in this system and its' future.  You missed something very special.  I've shaken Mr. Patterson's hand on many occasions; but his walking down the rows and shaking every person's hand at the end of class and thanking them for coming was a very special moment.  He should have had to shake at least twice as many hands.

        That room shouldn't have held us.  Next year maybe it won't.

        To those that I got to workout personally with and don't know their names; thanks for all your help.  I enjoyed it immensely and was honored by your help.  See you next month.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



August, 2000

        Don't let anyone tell you that gremlins don't exist.  I know different.  I had one with me last week; and he was a vicious little devil.

        Let me explain.  Last week was the time of the scheduled yearly trip by the men in my karate school. (Yes, it's just men.  The women haven't started planning them yet.)  This was our 6th consecutive year.  We have canoed,  hiked, camped out in the woods,  white water rafted, tubed the Guadalupe river in Texas, visited the Alamo, toured the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC,  showered under 100 ft. waterfalls, watched the sunset from mountaintop overlooks; and generally had a chance to get away from it all and spend time with people we genuinely like.  I highly recommend this practice.  It has meant so much to those of us who get to go.  I hope that in the next few years the number of people who get to go will double or even triple.  It is truly a wonderful experience.

        The experience is so good that not even the presence of a world class snorer can dilute the enjoyment.  You just have to make adjustments; such as carrying earplugs and banishing the culprit to the farthest corner of the camp.  But I think the gremlin that accompanied us this year came as close to ruining it (for me) as anything ever has.  Let me explain.  Before leaving last week I paid over $600 to get my van ready to go.  Within the first hour of the trip both problems that I had had worked on showed up again.  That was on Thursday.  On Friday evening we were getting ready to leave Helen, Ga. and the battery was dead.  No amount of jumping off would start it.  It was DEAD.  Now Helen is a tourist village in the north Ga. mountains that is built like a bavarian alpine village.  There are no parts houses or garages in Helen.  We had to hitch a ride back to the campground for the night.  Sat. morning we had to take the other vehicle to Cleveland, Ga. to get a battery.  So it's fixed and we're off to a hard day.
        Here's the good part.  Left to myself (and with my temper) I probably would have done something I would live to regret.  My past history with other cars says this is true.  However, I was with people who were determined not to let me let go of that temper.  They were right, I was wrong.  We finished the trip; I managed to have a good time; and the van will be fixed.  I'm even already thinking about next years trip.  I've always said that the good people I am surrounded with in karate help to make me a better person; and I mean it more than ever.  TRY IT IN YOUR SCHOOL.

        Finally, let me recommend highly the mountains of north Ga. as a vacation getaway location.  It is beautiful and I never knew it existed.  See you next month.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



July, 2000

        This past week I travelled to Guntersville, Al., a beautiful town in northeast Al. located on Lake Guntersville, to attend the funeral of my high school football coach.  As I sat there  in the section set aside for former players I couldn't help but consider what had brought all of us together at that spot at that time.  A Wednesday afternoon funeral has got to interfere with a lot of peoples' work and in June it may have interfered with vacation plans.  No matter, we were all gathered there for the same reason.  It was obvious from our demeanor and the words spoken that there was an immense amount of respect being shown for a man who had been a role model for hundreds of boys throughout many years of coaching.  As a coach he was remarkable; evidenced by his induction, several years ago, into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame (which I also took time off from teaching to attend).  But it was as a man that I, and I believe the others that attended the funeral, most remember him.

        I remember Coach Elmore as a big, gruff sounding, but eminently fair man who never took the easy way out and didn't allow us to either.  I know that when I first went out for football I was in an awful predicament for a young boy to handle.  I was too scared to play and too scared to quit.  I only knew that there were 2 people on this earth that I didn't want to disappoint; my father and Coach Elmore.  I had known my father for all of my 14 years; and I knew the kind of man he was:  a Master Sergeant in the Al. National Guard who was a veteran of the D Day landings in World War II and a drill instructor in the Korean War.  He was a steadfast, courageous, honorable man who never dodged a problem and was always there for his sons and daughters to grow up seeing how a real man helps raise and shape a family.  I saw those same qualities in Coach Elmore, though it was many years before I found out that he was also a WWII veteran.  And I really didn't want to disappoint these men that I admired so much.  So I played on; getting beat up each day by the older players; but learning how to play and ; it suddenly dawned on me; beginning to enjoy it.

        To make a long story short; I wouldn't trade my high school football days for anything.  With a little talent and great coaching I even earned a college football scholarship.  As it turned out, that wasn't to be (maybe a topic for a future column).  But I would like to say thanks 1 last time to 1 of my role models.  Coach Elmore, heaven is richer for your presence and I am a better man for having known you and your wonderful family.  The power of the model you and Mrs. Elmore set is obvious in your 2 sons, Jimmy and Jerry; both of whom are fine successful men with great families of their own.  Your grandchidren, who so obviously loved you.  What a legacy you leave.  I'm proud to say that I was one of your players.

        Now you might ask, "What does all of this have to do with Karate?".  It's simple, really.  If you teach in a school, or help teach, or if you are an adult and you show up for class; you are a role model.  Doesn't make a bit of difference whether you want to be or not; you are.  All my years of coaching and teaching (both public school and karate) have shown me an undeniable truth of life.  ROLE MODELS DO NOT CHOOSE THEMSELVES; THEY ARE CHOSEN.  And nothing is going to change that fact.  You don't have to like it, you can choose to ignore it, but that doesn't alter it one bit.  Children WILL pick older people to model themselves after.  We must all remember that as we conduct ourselves around the youngsters.

        See you next month.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



May, 2000

        As I sit writing this on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in early May here in north Alabama, I am getting more and more excited about the upcoming visit of Master Ohtsuka later this month. (Please excuse the spelling.  I've seen Ohtsuka spelled with and without the "h" and I don't know which is correct or preferred.  For what I have to say it doesn't matter.)  I have only had a couple of opportunities of working out with him; but they have been extremely pleasant and worthwhile experiences.  I hope to see many USEWKF members at the classes.  This is an important event for the federation.  Master Ohtsuka will get the opportunity to learn some things from us too.  Make no mistake, if we don't show up, look like karateka, act like karateka, and show an eagerness to learn he will take notice.  Being able to get instruction from the world head isn't to be taken lightly.  Let's make a great showing.

        That leads me to comment on my good fortune in some of the people I've had the opportunity to learn from over the years.  I got started quite by accident.  I was working as a lifeguard during the summers in the late 1970's; and it was there that I met Don Hendrix.  Don had recently moved to Athens from Lewisburg, Tn. and needed somebody to work out with.  We started training together and it wasn't long before we were travelling to Lewisburg a couple of times each week to work out under the late Ray Cross.  Anyone who ever worked out with Ray knows that it was an intense experience.  I learned early on that being rather large was NOT an advantage in learning Wado.  At one point, while a white belt, Mr. Patterson (who I had just met) suggested that I consider another style that might accomodate my lack of grace.  I didn't take that advice. I used it as motivation (probably what he had in mind all along). I wanted some of the movement skills I saw among the Black Belts when the system got together.  I will confess to you what I've told my classes many times.  I may look and move like a defensive lineman; but inside beats the heart and soul of a dancer wanting to get out.  So I kept plugging along and getting to study with some fantastic martial artists.  And now over 20 years have gone by and I'm still looking for a little grace.  Who knows; maybe it'll happen next workout.  Wouldn't that be something.

        Now let me pay tribute to those who have taught me and whose skills have served as models for me to set my goals by. How lucky our system is to have Mr. Cecil Patterson at its head.  And in no particular order these people have helped and influenced me and still are today: John Patterson, Dale Kirby, Taylor Hayden, David Deaton, Roe Carter, Jean Ellen Zimmerman, Wayne Tyler, Mike Vanatta, David Rhodes, Bill Taylor, and all the others who have helped and encouraged me over the years.  I truly believe that this unselfish sharing of time to pass on knowledge is one of the true strengths of our system.  I'm proud to be a practitioner of Wado and a member of the USEWKF.  See you next month.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu

        P.S. I dare not leave out Mr. Masafumi Shiomitsu, who has used me for target practice on several occasions, and who I hope has the opportunity to do so many more times in the future.



March, 2000

        Let me warn you in advance that this month's column is going to ramble a bit.  I have a lot of things to comment on; so let's get on with it.

        Saturday, the 18th of March, 2000 was a banner day for the U.S. Eastern system.  Our annual intrasystem tournament was held in Columbia, Tn.  I will have much more to say about the tournament in a bit.  First, I want to say "Thank You" to all of you who commented to me and others from Bama on how much you enjoy this website.  We greatly appreciate it.  The site was founded with the intention of supplying as much accurate information about Wado Ryu and its practitioners as we can find; and we intend to continue that.  HOWEVER, I am responsible for overseeing the content NOT actually getting it on the net.  The person responsible for what you see actually being here is Mr. Frank Austin a Brown Belt at our school in Huntsville under the instruction of David and Chris Button.  Thinking back, I should have done this a long time ago but let me now give my personal thanks to our Webmaster.  Frank, thanks for a whale of a job.  I wish you could have been there Saturday to receive some of the compliments; because in large measure they belong to you.

        Now back to Saturday.  What a great day.  I believe it was one of the best tournaments, if not the best, we've ever had.  Over 425 people in gis out on the floor for the opening ceremony, 20 to 25 of the system's senior members on the dais with Mr. Patterson, Thomas Mitchell singing the national anthem (WOW!), Keith Fall reciting the Wado creed, just to get things started.  Mr. Patterson giving awards and then receiving one from the Mayor of Nashville. Mr. Steve O'Riley and Mr. Jimmy Edwards for kumite and kata competitors of the decade. (Well deserved awards for 2 great karateka.)

        In the tournament itself, the competition was stiff but I don't remember seeing one display of poor sportsmanship.  I didn't see one injury.  There may have been some, but I didn't see or hear of them.  That's what Wado is all about.  My school had 6 competitors and they brought home 6 trophies. Super job to all of you.  For the first time, some of the trophies went back to Texas.  North Texas Wado Ryu had 4 competitors, I think, and took home 3 trophies.  Super!  This is a new school run by John and Valerie Honeycutt.  I was fortunate to have them as my students when they lived in Bama and when they went back home they took the system to a new state. (Looking forward to seeing y'all next week out there.)

        Finally, to the people I saw in Columbia who helped me find my way in my early days, I want to say how good it was to see you again.  Mr. Taylor Hayden, Mr. Dale Kirby, Mr. Mike Vanatta, Mr. and Mrs. James and Jean Ellen Zimmerman, Mr. John Patterson (who disqualified me in my first tournament, for good reason), Mr. Don Hendrix (my first instructor), Mr. Roe Carter, and all the others whose names elude me now; but will come to me after I send this in; thanks for a truly great day.  I don't try to hide the fact that I dislike tournaments; but I did have a great day.  If you weren't there you really missed something.  See you next month!

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



February, 2000

        In the course of teaching my high school psychology classes each year, we always cover a section on the ongoing dispute called "nature vs nurture".  In other words, which is most important in forming a person's personality; their genetic inheritance or the environment they are brought up in?  Today, most psychologists agree that both play an important role in human development.  I concur; but, as the years go by, I increasingly see my father reflected both in my mirror and in my behavior.

        I say these things to make this point.  Sometimes we have to overcome our own bad nature in order to help ourselves.  Case in point; I am presently nursing a bad cold (which is a recent development) and a strained muscle in my back (which has been nagging me for several months).  As long as it was just the muscle I would ease up on it for a day or two and it would begin to feel better.  Then I would go right back to the behaviors that injured it in the first place (i.e. stretching, and working out).  The end result was that I was constantly complaining about my back and continuing to do the things guaranteed to not allow it to heal.  I see my father's imprint here.  His stubbornness was legendary throughout our family.  I guess as the old saying goes "The fruit doesn't fall very far from the tree".  (By the way, I see this also reflected in MY son; but I'm sure he got it from his mother's side of the family.)

        At any rate, the onset of a cold last week forced me to a momentuous decision.  I will take at least a week and a half to 2 weeks off from working out in order to let myself get well. I guess making a smart decision late is better than not making it at all.  This brings me at last to the main point of the column this month.  As I have conducted my classes from the sidelines this past week I have had a point reinforced that I think needs to be mentioned.

        I consider my job to be not only teaching Wado karate to my students and providing a role of following all the rules I require them to follow; but, also, to train instructors for the future.  And am I ever psyched up by what I see.  First, I know I can be absent when necessary, because I have a group of assistants who would make anyone proud.  Needless to say, Andy McCormick, Charles (Rick) Roberts, Bill Ireland, and Karen Heller would do an excellent job with schools of their own.  My students and I, reap the benefits of their not being in situations where they could have their own schools.  They'll probably never know how much I appreciate them and their influence on our other students.

        However, what really excites me is what I've seen recently among my kyu rank students who have been given the opportunity to work with lower ranking students.  I have had a lot of time to watch in the last few days and what I've seen really thrills me.  Somewhere there are people going about their everyday lives today not knowing the extent to which some of my people are going to influence them.  And I can't wait.  The patience, genuine concern, and comradeship shown by these students is great to see.  Their rapport with the others is captivating to watch.  I am greatly impressed and humbled by their decision to attend my school.  I truly believe that I am training some people who will be excellent ambassadors of Wado Ryu.  I thank them all for being the people that they are.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



January, 2000

            Hope all of you had a super Christmas and a very happy New Year.  I must say that mine was great.  The year 2000 represents a new beginning for a lot of people; and should be treated as such.  (I'm not going to argue about whether or not it is the beginning of a new century and millenium.  People are treating it like it is; so I'll work from that perspective.)  2000 presents us with ample opportunities to make changes and just determine to be better people.  I've made some of those myself; and the following little story illustrates one of them.

            During the course of teaching my Tuesday night karate class, I became aware of a man and 2 children sitting and watching class.  Usually I make time to greet new visitors and try to make them welcome even if I don't have time to talk for very long at that moment.  However, I was so occupied that I just never had a free moment and soon I forgot he was there until class was over.  Then I noticed that he was still waiting patiently to talk to me.  After introducing myself to him and apologizing for making him wait we began to talk.  He told me how much he had enjoyed the visit; but that he had earned a green belt in Isshin Ryu before moving to our vicinityand wondered if I knew of an Isshin Ryu instructor.  I told him I would be glad to check with some friends across north Alabama; and would have the information for him the next week.

            The next morning I emailed a friend over close to Huntsville and within 30 minutes was thoroughly embarassed.  It seems a gentleman that I have met several times recently (and worked out with on a couple of occasions, I'm afraid) is an Isshin Ryu instructor with over 30 years in the style.  My wife says it's age.  I say that I'm just an absentminded professor.  Since it's my column, I'll stick with my explanation.

            At any rate, I got the name, number and other needed information and will give it to the gentleman when he returns.  Just like friends, colleagues and fellow karateka should do for each other without even thinking about it..........  But I did think about it.

            And when I thought about it, I suddenly realized how rare an event that was.  That is my whole point.  On too many occasions we ( meaning all karateka) would be unwilling to help the other person, and on all too many occasions would spend our time trashing the other persons style.  I have witnessed this behavior and been on the receiving end of it. What a pity that at the very moment of making a good impression for yourself, your school, your style, and your area many choose to forget the precepts of the martial arts.  Again this month I would say that at the bottom of it is a $.

            In the last few months I have met some great martial artists and none of them are in Wado.  Doesn't matter.  Good people are good people regardless of their style or the color of their gi (although I don't think I'll get used to camouflage gis).  We are learning from each other.  I'm more Wado than ever; but that doesn't prevent me recognizing quality folks in different uniforms.

            Please understand that I'm not bragging on myself.  I don't believe in honoring people (including myself) for doing the right thing.  It should be an automatic response.  I'm working on making it so for myself first so that I can lead my students that way.  Wish all of us luck.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



December, 1999

            All I wish to say this month has to do with the time of year that it is.  I have to be one of the biggest fans of Christmas in the world.  I came by it honestly;
 as I can well remember the delight that my father took in this time of the year.  For the length of his life; he was able to retain some of the delight that children usually have for all the trappings of Christmas.  I am really pleased that this feeling was handed down to me. I have no patience for the Scrooges among the adults that I meet each year.  If love, togetherness, giving and the feelings of peace and goodwill (even if temporary) are passe and trite; then I glory in being passe and trite.  I intend
to revel in my family and friends.  I intend to overeat.  I intend to laugh, sing carols (slightly out of tune I'm afraid), and otherwise cater to the child in me.  I will thrill to watch others open the presents I got them; and fumble excitedly to open mine.  AND I will not be embarassed in the slightest to do so.

             Those who do not share this joy are truly missing something that I have no way of conveying to them.  The only advice I have for them is to learn to look for
and enjoy the lights of Christmas.  Whether it be on houses, trees, or the faces of the children.

             To all of you, MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I'll see you in 2000.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



November, 1999

           This probably flies in the face of much of the modern image of the martial arts; but it's the way I really feel (and think) so here goes.  Early in my career in karate I began attending and sometimes competing in tournaments around the south.  While I am a natural competitor in just about anything I do; I found myself increasingly disliking the tournament atmosphere and scene.  Eventually I came to dislike tournaments so much that I rarely attended them and maintain that position today.

            What I was learning about the meaning of the martial arts and the type of character martial artists were supposed to be building in themselves was being totally trashed with impunity at the tournaments.  I watched egos allowed to run wild.  Where was the humility?  I watched people openly rejoice at the defeat and even injury of others.  Where was the compassion and generosity of spirit?  I watched uniforms become a billboard for the competitor to express all matter of things that had no place there.  Again, where was the humility?  I watched temper tantrums, screaming fits, and cursing by competitors in an attempt to intimidate the judges.  Then when instructors and parents intervened; I found out where the students learned their behavior.  What's the use of wondering where the students' discipline is when the adults that are around them most often don't have any?  And I've watched the seeming "I'll take care of your people at my tournament and you take care of mine at your tournament" arrangement between some promoters.  Where is the honesty?  Combine all of this with the fact that they have virtually priced themselves out of the range of many people and you see why the tournament circuit has dropped off so much in the past few years.

            And, in my opinion, at the core of all of this is money.  It is extremely disheartening to watch the things that I love about the arts be "sold out".  So, to save myself that pain, I basically quit going to tournaments and restricted myself to teaching and attending seminars.

            But there may be hope.  I am excited to report that I have been meeting lately with some fine martial artists from north Alabama who feel as I do.  We are attempting to put together an organization for "traditional" martial artists.  Not to sell our particular art; but to sell the traditions of the arts.  As I said, I am excited about the prospect.  I'll keep you informed.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



October, 1999

          I hope that this column doesn't upset my instructor, Mr. Cecil Patterson, because I have a feeling he'll see it. In fact, I hope he sees the humor in it that I do everytime something happens to remind me of the incident. I won't try to put a date on this event; let's just say that it was a number of years ago. I was attending a tournment in the Birmingham area, and became aware of some people who wore patches similar to ours and were practitioners of Wado. As soon as the opportunity arose, I went over to meet one of them. He seemed pleased to meet me and get a chance to compare notes, since Wado is a somewhat unknown style in much of Alabama. ( Hopefully, we will change that in the future.) He asked me who my instructor was and I replied, "Mr. Cecil Patterson." To which he replied, "Can't be; he's dead."  It took me a little while to convince him that I indeed knew who my instructor was and that he was very much alive and active in teaching Wado-Ryu and running our federation.
          At the time I was regularly attending Black Belt classes each month under Mr. Patterson; and anyone who was in those classes can readily attest that Sensei was alive and "kicking". Those classes are still spoken about among some of us who have been around for awhile. I can honestly say that college football and military service never worked me as hard; and I loved it.
          Well, I'm delighted to tell everyone who might be reading that Sensei is still with it. I, and several of the BAMA Black Belts, attended Sensei's 1999 Black Belt seminar at Mr. Bill Taylor's beautiful dojo in Murfreesboro, Tn. yesterday, Sept.25th.  I don't know what the offical count was but I estimate about 75 or more Dan ranks showed up for a great experience. I'm just too sore to walk today (age I suppose), but it was well worth it. What a great day of learning! I got more than my share of criticism from Sensei and I richly deserved it; but that is what I went for. (I know how strange that sounds, but it's true.) I, as a teacher, believe in the concept of
lifelong learning. And believe me, I learned a lot yesterday. Thanks for an exhausting but a great day, Sensei.
          Congratulations are in order to Mr. Eric Silver and Mr. Sam Ingram for being promoted to 5th and 6th Dan, respectively at the conclusion of the seminar. Both are fine gentleman and dedicated karateka.
          Finally, my reply to anyone who still has any misconceptions about the condition of Sensei Patterson comes from one of my favorite John Wayne movies "Big Jake". As the main bad guy, played by Richard Boone, lays dying; he asks Big Jake (John Wayne) "Who are you?" Wayne replies, "Jacob McCandles." Boone replies " I thought you were dead." The reply: "NOT HARDLY!"

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



September, 1999

        My apologizes for being so late getting this column in. I am trying to learn the intricacies of a new home computer. For those who are computer whizzer's this doesn't seem like such a big deal. For those of us who are not mechanically inclined at all; it takes repetitive practice and a lot of patience from both me and the person trying to show me what to do.
         That brings me to my topic. Patience! Not something I was born with; rather, an acquired skill. We can do ourselves and our students a great favor if we can help ingrain patience into their lives. As a Karate instructor, I have to constantly remind myself that while I have guidelines that I go by for promotions; they're not written in stone. I should expect for myself and be willing to grant others the freedom to promote somewhat early or hold back if deemed necessary. The bottom line should not be the promotion; but rather, the mastery of a skill to a certain extent.
         This requires patience, because we are all anxious for our students to succeed. I am convinced that the success of a student ultimately is not measured in the color of their belt but in the skills they can exhibit. This includes more than showing basic techniques, sparring ability, running katas, etc.. It includes their exhibition of mental and emotional skills. They should be taught to have patience with themselves and with others. This is something I teach and stress in my classes for the students sake, the other instructors sake, and most of all for my sake. I can't expect more from them than I am willing to expect from myself.  In the next few months, I will be talking about more of the mental and emotional attributes that a well rounded class should consist of. See you soon.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



July, 1999

        I am dedicating the column this month to the memory of a Great Lady, Mrs. Joan Patterson; wife of our founder, President and my Instructor, Mr. Cecil T. Patterson. Mrs. Patterson passed away on July 21,1999.   It was my privilidge to meet Mrs. Patterson on several occasions and she always made me feel at home in her presence. She had an outgoing personality and was full of life. It showed in her every smile.
         Mrs. Patterson died after a long illness which she fought with courage and determination. Her struggle was inspirational.  Speaking for all of us in the Alabama System, I want to extend our sympathies  and our support to Mr. Patterson and his Family. God Bless you all.

                                Tom Stevenson
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu



June, 1999

       I remember vividly my first up close encounter with Japanese martial arts.  It was the summer of 1969 and I was in the Navy stationed on board the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk.  On 2 separate occasions we spent a week in Japan for R&R.  The dominant shows on Japanese TV were Bonanza and different forms of martial arts.  I remember being struck by the way the people were able to move.  I have always been fascinated by people who could move exceptionally well.  I can watch gymnasts, dancers, martial artists and others who are very good at what they do for hours on end.  Potentially learning to move a little bit like this was my motivation to begin learning karate in 1978.  But it wasn't what kept me learning.
        Over the years, I have heard many reasons given for taking karate lessons.  I'm sure those of you who have been involved for a while have heard many also.  All the reasons you and I may have heard to start taking lessons are valid;  but none of them will keep you in martial arts for the long haul.   Only one reason does that.  You've got to love it.  That's why there is a high drop out rate (and it should be pretty high).  In the end it must become a labor of love.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu


May, 1999

    In doing a column like this, it is always easy to lose sight of some very important things and just start "handing out" words of so-called "wisdom."   I  want to take care of one of those important things right now.  For putting up with my hobby for the past 21 years, I must say a heartfelt, "Thank you," to my wife, Vicki.  She has seen me traipse off all over the south to tournaments and seminars.  She has seen me with broken bones, pulled muscles, black eyes, etc.  She has seen me with morning after soreness so bad I  just hobble around for awhile (especially as I've gotten older).  All of this  with a big smile on my face.  I guess she accepts what she doesn't understand.  We've been married 27 years and she's still my best friend and my love.  Thanks, Babe!

    One final note.  To Andy, Terri, Dustin, and "Pooh" Coffield in Meridian,  Idaho and all their students.  Welcome, and keep up the good work.  Alabama's loss of one great family was Idaho's gain.

    See you next month.

   Here are the Dojo Promotions:

Athens Dojo

Matthew Roberts     to Green Belt
Christopher Roberts to Green Belt
Bryan Brown         to Purple Belt
Tanya Slaght        to Blue Belt
Jason Stewart       to Blue Belt
Drew Turberville    to Blue Belt
Vikki Jones         to Orange Belt
Matt McCune         to Orange Belt
Kevin Scott         to Orange Belt
Sonja Wigginton     to Orange Belt
Heather Patrick     to Gold Belt
Zachary Patrick     to Gold Belt
Dale Rybick         to Gold Belt
 

Huntsville Dojo

Frank Austin    to Green Belt
Andrew Coley  to Green Belt
Bryan Coley     to Green Belt

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu


April, 1999

      As I welcome all visitors to our newly operational website, let me at the very beginning convey my thanks to Chris, David, and Frank at Huntsville Wado Ryu for their tireless work in getting this site up and online.  Their dedication to this project has been inspiring.  Superb job.

    I hope all visitors to this site understand that there will be some bugs in the beginning and all of the things we wish to do with the site are not completed yet.  Bear with us.  Feel free to list your schools on our address page and to contact us with suggestions or just to talk.

    Alabama Wado Ryu is a growing concern with schools in Athens, Ardmore, and Huntsville, Alabama.  There is also a branch school in Meridian, Idaho;  and,  hopefully, a school will soon be up and running in Midlothian, Texas.  Our first school began over 20 years ago in Athens under the leadership of Mr. Don Hendrix, 5th Dan.  That school is presently under my leadership.  The schools in Ardmore and Huntsville have been open for 5 and 4 years respectively and are under the leadership of Mr. Bill Hardyman, 4th Dan, and Mr. Chris Button  and Mr. David Button, 3rd Dans.  Our class locations and schedules are listed in this website so if you are in the neighborhood feel free to drop by.

   Alabama Wado Ryu is a proud part of the U.S. Eastern Wado Ryu Karate Do Federation.  Its founder, president, and my instructor is Mr. Cecil T. Patterson, 8th Dan, of Nashville, Tn.  I want to personally thank him for allowing us the opportunity to go online with this site.

   Our sole purpose in establishing this site is to promote Wado Ryu and the traditional martial arts.  I will have a column each month and I will welcome your comments.  Again, welcome to our site.

                                Tom Stevenson, 5th Dan
                                Chairman, Alabama Wado Ryu


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