Some yutz has been obsessively writing me to "question" the authenticity of my martial arts training, considering, as he put it, my tendency towards occasionally using it. Frankly, I couldn't be happier for the opportunity to break out the family album.
I received my shodan (1st degree blackbelt) directly from Grand Master Richard Lenchus, founder and O'Sensei of the Legend Shotokan System, a worldwide syndicate of dojos based on traditional Shotokan plus Lenchus' own inimitable style of kata and kumite. A Legend blackbelt takes anywhere from seven to ten years to achieve. Unlike what's found in American Tae Kwon Do and many other U.S. dojos, rank in the Legend system cannot be bought--it must be fought for, on every level. Information on Sensei Lenchus and "The Legend" is available all over the web, including numerous articles that it has been my honor to pen.
My Sensei trained with and received rank from Kawanabe Sensei in Atsugi, Japan in 1958. I have had the good fortune of corresponding with my teacher's teacher, who is regarded as a pioneer in Shotokan.
Kawanabe Sensei received his training and rank directly from the legendary Funakoshi Sensei, the founder of Shotokan and pioneer of modern-day Japanese martial arts. Funakoshi Sensei's legacy rests in a document containing his philosophies of karate training now referred to as the niju kun. These rules are the premise of training for all Shotokan karateka and are published in The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate wherein Funakoshi lays out 20 rules by which students of karate become better human beings.
I currently hold the rank of Sensei in Legend Shotokan but am no longer actively training nor teaching. I also have a blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do as well as training in Ishin Ru and American Combat Karate.
My two oldest sons, Avi (20) and Benjy (18), both trained in Shotokan and Tae Kwon Do as children. Each of them are accomplished wrestlers, too, and actively training in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu schools within the Gracie system (the top of the food chain). Benjy, whose wrestling record was 21 and 2 his senior year, recently took first place in his very first BJJ tourament--an invitational in Haifa, Israel.