Hello esteemed members of the TKA and friends. This past weekend was a whirlwind of a dream come true. While the only thing that would have made it even more special would be if Sr. GM James Cummings Jr. could’ve presented it but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, the International Martial Arts Council of America (IMAC) did award it. A lifetime of dedication and hard work didn’t go unnoticed as GM’s Tom Balmos, Clarence Smith and I finally found us at the pinnacle of our careers. We three pretty much made all of our ranks for the most part at the same time. It’s been a great destination but the journey and the people that brought us here are what fill my heart up the most.
People that I need to dearly thank first is my wife, Sherrie Pahl, for believing in me and pushing me to go that extra mile and I believe she probably learned my new kata while helping me, better than I could ever perform it. To the entire Tang Soo Do Karate Association you all were inspirational being by my side knowing how nervous I was. Special thanks to Master Shannon Ramsey for the goodies for the board, what a touch of class; and for helping the Shinkaruks accepting their award with dignity and grace. The only thing that would’ve been better is if they could’ve been there in person. To my immediate brothers, Sensei Huge, Andrew and BigRam, what a help they were leading up to, during and after; and Andrew taking all the fantastic pictures along with his awesome wife Mrs. Billie.
To Mrs. DeAnna Price for getting those awesome plaques for the outgoing and incoming President of the Hall, they were so impressed. I know how busy you were with work but you still found the time, priceless and so much appreciated. To Mrs. Billie Moody for the outstanding t-shirt design front and back, and the secret was safe till the reveal. Everybody loved them and they will represent good memories down the road. To Master Eric Jones for the outstanding poster he created of the different schools and folks and to the expense he went through to buy some for the Team. Eric leads by example every time and is a class act. To Ea Dan Gary Floyd for sponsoring two martial artists: Sensei’s Jared Shinkaruk and Vicki Dees Bosman with their awards. Who does that in this time and age? I know they will be forever grateful and I am. You represent to everybody what a giving and generous person you are. We are humbled by your actions. Here’s to my good friend Sensei Joey DuPuis, who taught all of Sensei Jose’s classes on Thursday so Jose could participate in the National Training Camp and helping me to stay centered because I was nervous, in case it didn’t show. To folks like Andrew, Jose who took us live on Facebook and the countless friends that are still uploading pictures, thank you. It was an honor too on behalf of GM Smith and Balmos to present two field promotions to two awesome karatekas: our newest GrandMaster Walter Bryant of Karate Institute and our newest TKA Master, Master Mike Jones. We loved seeing the look on these two gentlemen’s faces….again priceless.
While not everything went exactly as we had hoped for, it was still a sweet event. We all still have work to do…yes, all of us. I further appreciate everybody dressing up and representing us all with such dignity and class befitting us all. We overcame, adapted and improvised and we showed we are a force to be reckoned with. I hope you all will be able to support more of the IMAC functions in future years.
GM Tom Balmos and GM Clarence Smith, what can I say that hasn’t been said? They are up there on the highest pedestal and I know GM Cummings is looking down so proud.
Our next function of course will be our 22nd Annual TKA World Conference to be held the 2nd and 3rd of December 2016. Please make plans to attend, it will be another memorable event this year.
Johnny K. Thompson, GrandMaster, 9th Degree
President, Tang Soo Do Karate Association
1st Degree, Chu Ida Yong Tae Kwon Do