I was seventeen when I walked into Bob Sparks Goju-Ryu Karate Dojo. My reason for going there: My boss told me to. He said, "A buddy of mine just got back from Okinawa and he opened a karate school. Why don't you go sign up?
I was enrolled at a school-without-walls which enabled me to take any sport for college credit. At the time I was swimming and I found it incredibly boring. Back and forth, back and forth. I felt lonely in the pool. So I went to try a karate class.
When I got there I was told I had to sit and watch. After 20 minutes I got up and left. I literally could not sit there and watch. I had to do it!
The next night I officially enrolled. My first teacher was Linda Sparks, Sensei's wife, who was then a brown belt. She taught me Jodan Age Uke, the upper rising block, and explained that karate is only for self-defense; everything starts and ends with blocking. I was enthralled.
Later that night I walked into my father's apartment and said, "I am going to do karate every day for the rest of my life." He laughed. I guess when a seventeen-year-old speaks of eternity it's hard to take seriously. Other than two-three weeks off after the birth of each of my children, religious holidays, short illnesses and injuries - I have made good on my prediction. Thirty-seven years later I'm still punching and kicking.