It's important for us to hold on to our history. We have so many people who have been influential and essential to Sun Dragon's survival over the years and if we don't take the time to remember them, we run the risk of losing our identity, forgetting what we stand for, becoming just another karate school. A lot of times when we talk about people from our past, they really are in our distant past and we only have occasional contact with them. Fortunately for me, that's not the case with Sei Shihan Nancy. I don't get to talk to her that often, but I know that I can always count on her if I get caught by a situation I don't know how to handle or if I just need someone to talk to about karate or the goings on at Sun Dragon. And she's been that sort of resource for Sun Dragon for a long time.
Sei Shihan Nancy brought us into the World Seido Karate Organization years ago, when Sensei Joy was looking for a structure to help build Sun Dragon. Before that, we weren't in an organization and we were struggling a bit in terms of curriculum development, especially for our black belt students. Sensei Joy knew Shihan Nancy from Special Training and over time she convinced Sensei Joy that Seido would be a good fit for us. Not only that, but she became Sensei Joy's instructor and she helped prepare all of us for the shift to Seido, running our entire group of black belts through a sort of Black Belt Boot Camp during which they learned all the Seido material, from white belt to advanced brown belt, in a year. This was after she led Sensei Joy through the same process.
If that wasn't enough, pretty much all of our best ideas came from Shihan Nancy and her school in Chicago, Thousand Waves. Kickathon? We stole it from Thousand Waves. You like that student manual? Yep, we nicked that from them too (with edits by Sensei KJ to make it more Sun Dragon Appropriate). A lot of our drills came from Thousand Waves, the way we run promotions, some of our curriculum choices, I really can't even list all the ideas we took from Thousand Waves over the years and Sei Shihan Nancy was always there, passing it over to us with open hands. If the "open hands" of karate means generosity, Sei Shihan Nancy has always been the embodiment of the open hands of karate.
Not only has she been generous with her ideas and her inspiration, she's also graciously welcomed so many of us into her home when we traveled to Chicago to train at Thousand Waves. And, I have to tell you, her table is one of my favorite tables in the world. I've had so many wonderful meals and conversations over the years at that table with her and Sei Shihan Sarah. They're great cooks, great conversationalists, and they love talking about karate, Seido history, the history of women's martial arts, books, politics, you name it.
All of the above is why I am so excited that she, and her incredible cohort of women martial artists pictured above, are promoting to seventh degree black belt in Seido this weekend. We've been honoring them on the shinzen all week and it is such an inspiration to have so many strong, capable women graduating to such a high rank in our organization. Sei Shihan Nancy is probably the finest martial arts instructor I've ever trained under, and we're all thrilled to see her achieve this rank. She deserves every bit of it.