AKATO 40th Anniversary Speech

Two years ago I was invited by GM Keith Yates to speak at American Karate and Taekwondo Organization's 40th Anniversary banquet.

When I left the US, I was a young black belt. Over the intervening years, I started my own training groups, have expanded on my knowledge, supported my local and international community, and have developed a unique traditional training methodology. All of my effort however, I felt was propelled only by the training I received from AKATO, my instructors Bryan Robbins, Mike Proctor, and Paul Hinkley.

So to say it was a huge honour to have been invited, asked to instruct, and then to address the audience, is an understatement. At the end of the evening as I was unwinding from the presentations of all these award, I was absolutely blown away to have been called up to receive AKATO's Instructor of the Year Award. This was a momentous affair - and I was emotionally affected and suffused with a great pride.

The following is the speech I delivered.

Colin receiving AKATO Instructor of the Year 2016 from GM Keith Yates.

AKaTo Speech Mar 19 2016
GM Yates, Grandmasters, Masters, Instructors, Fellow Practitioners, Ladies and Gentlemen.
A good evening to all of you. 

In the 1990s I started under the then STA when I joined the SMU Martial Arts Club. Back then I remember approaching Sensei Bryan Robbins as a young black belt not really knowing what to expect and possibly carrying a healthier ego and relying on more acrobatic kicks than was good for my safety. 
This is the effect Colin has on anyone. This is me encouraging everyone to strike a pose. From left to right, my former training buddy Master Jon Alster. My instructor Sensei Bryan Robbins. And occasional training buddy Tim Pugliese.

It's been 25 years since I first stepped into SMU - and I have since gathered a generous network of martial arts friends the world over. But walking into the SMU Martial Arts Club for that first time, I might as well have been nobody. Yet, instructors of the STA/AKaTo took me in, and showed me the best of Texan hospitality. And I knew I was onto a good thing as soon as I was able to breathe out of my nose again. 

From when I left the US in the mid 90s, I've been proud to share the best of Traditional Taekwondo with whomever wanted to play. 
Colin with his Karate instructor Sensei Mike Proctor, and training buddy Master Jon Alster.

Now when I say Taekwondo, what I really mean to say is I practice American Karate. And when I say 'Traditional' it means I often act tougher than I am, I do way too many push-ups, and I wear black more often than other colors. 

I'm still hugely inspired by AKaTo instructors who've always been so generous of their friendship, and most importantly, generous with their knowledge. This afternoon, I ran a seminar peppered with Okinawan, Japanese, and Korean terminology. Yet many of the concepts I covered were learned directly from my AKaTo instructors - I merely filled in the oriental terms after the fact. 
There are old friends, and then there are new friends - Ron Jensen flies in all the way to be my demo partner. Ron and I are online friends, and spend a lot of time on The Study of Taekwondo FB Group.

I now live in Australia, which is a little far away from Dallas, but I jumped at the opportunity to come celebrate AKaTo's 40th Anniversary. It transpired I had to first shell out for the flight over, then find alternative lodging for the kangaroos in my backyard. Nevertheless, it is a huge honor to have been invited and I am so pleased to be here. 

Lastly, I can't be up here and not take the opportunity to thank a few key individuals for making my journey in the arts so fulfilling. You may know these individuals: my teachers Mr Robbins, Mr Proctor, and Mr Hinkley, my mentors Mr Tempesta, and Mr Alster. And of course a very special thank you to GM Yates for all the little things he's done to become a guiding light, not only inspiring me, but for so many other practitioners. 

Thank you. 

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