I decided to tell my story for three reasons. First, in presenting the unvarnished truth I want to rise above myself-to become a better person and a better martial artist. As the saying goes, the truth can set you free. Second, I hope that my story will help you, the reader, to better understand the martial arts and see my life in a more transparent way. Third, I want this story to inspire my students (and any others who may read my story) to persevere and find the right balance in their martial arts training and in their lives. It's easy to imitate others, but it is harder to create something new. Now is the time for me to forge my own path and create my own essence and my own way of doing things. Becoming a seventh-degree black belt motivates me to become the kind of martial arts master that I want to be. To understand where I'm going, it is helpful to reflect on where I've been.

I have come to the conclusion that there is far too much "he said, she said" in the martial arts today. People spend entirely too much time arguing about which martial arts style is the best and who is the best. If martial artists would set aside the bickering and devote at least half of their time and energy to improving their skills in the art that they study, they would achieve so much more in their training and in their personal development as martial artists.

There are four secrets to being a good martial artist and a good human being: self-discipline, tolerance, adaptability, and patience. People who lack these characteristics find it easier to make excuses and to blame others for their lack of success.

Years ago when I was running my first Kempo School at 3035 Harney Street in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, it was one of the happiest times in my life. I was a first-degree black belt promoted under the well-known Professor Nick Cerio. Times were simpler then, with no politics and no problems. But I am a very ambitious person, and it's very hard for me to sit still for long. I had, and still have, a drive to continually challenge myself to do better and to achieve more. I want to be successful and make my life as meaningful as I can. At that time, I promised myself that when I became better known as a martial artist, I would write something to let people know what it is like to achieve success in this field.

Early in my martial arts career, I noticed that some instructors seemed to drag students along, draining their wallets by tantalizing them with the promise of some kind of martial arts holy grail. I knew that I wanted to make things right for the love of the art. For thousands of years, martial arts masters and heads of religions have used these methods of withholding "secrets" to gain control by instilling fear of the unknown into people. This should not be the way of martial arts, and it is not the way a human being ought to live. Control should come from within and not from without. And finding the truth-untying the knot-should be our ultimate goal.

Dedications Chapter 1