I was an 18 year old boxer in Lexington, Missouri in 1959. I had, quite by accident, stumbled across a Tae Kwon Do instructor at the local military school. During those early years, I studied Tae-Kwon-Do, Okinawan Shorei Kempo, Okinawan and Japanese Goju-ryu, JKA style Shotokan, Judo, and Aikido. I became very involved in commercial karate and active in the tournament circuit.
It was my good fortune to hear of Tsutomu Ohshima, who was a direct disciple of the founder of Shotokan Karate, Gichin Funakoshi. Mr. Ohshima was living in Los Angeles and sent one of his juniors, Mr. Mamoru Ohara, to Kansas City in 1966. I was so impressed that I began to practice and teach only Mr. Ohshima’s unique style of Shotokan Karate, and that was the beginning of Shotokan Karate in Kansas City.
I know so well that time and change are inevitable, but it just doesn’t seem possible that thirty years have passed so quickly. Forty-one of my juniors have become black belts. One is yodan, seven are sandan, nine are nidan, and twenty-four are shodan. They are leading practices at six dojos in the area. I am so lucky to have been associated with each of them.
I have often expressed my belief that special training is the essence of our practice. It teaches us to do the things that must be done, when they must be done, whether we want to do them or not. To do our very best, no matter what our condition. To never give up.
I am proud to have been involved with SKA for the past thirty years. I am proud to have been a part of Mr. Ohshima’s vision to become stronger human beings, to improve society, and to lead the way to a better future.
-Jon K. Beltram, October, 1996