December 13, 2017 marks my golden anniversary in the martial arts. (How the heck can he remember the exact date?) I kept a log when I began, showing the date of each class and what we worked on. The log was lost until my family moved from Jamaica, Queens to Merrick, Long Island in 1971, when it was found sifting through some papers. As it turned out, my brother Rick married Rita on the same date, December 13, but in 1970. I can never forget when I started, because it’s their anniversary too, just three years apart.
My first instructor, Sabumnim Illowsky, called his teachings Karate, which was a rare (but known) term, as Tae Kwon Do was almost unknown to the public. I then went on to Moo Duk Kwan – Tang Soo Do, another ‘Korean style’ in Brooklyn. As we know, Koreans trained with Funakoshi O-sensei in the 1950s, then went back to Korea and created ‘Korean styles’ based on Shotokan. I learned Taga 1-2-3, Bin-an 1-2-3-4-5, Chul-ki, and Passai. Do these names sound familiar?