The first impression of someone often creates the basis for later bonds. Let me give some examples that have made greatest imprint on me.
I must begin with my first instructor Tom Lewis. When I had learned of his program from someone at work, I went to see him. It was a night that the club didn’t meet, but he did meet with me in his office. The dojo appeared to be a barn from a distance, however inside it was all business.
The first night, class for the beginners were taught by several greenbelts. During our class I saw Sensei working the brown belts on the bag. I heard his roundhouse kicks strike the bag harder than I could hit it with a baseball bat. That made the first of many impressions.
My second class I met Dennis Lockwood. After warmup’s and some drills, I remember he announced we would be sparring. I had no idea of what I was doing and my partner was a younger woman (by 8 years) green belt who kept hitting me in the mouth and kicking me there. I had no idea beginners were target practice for the green belts.
My third class, after warm-ups we were told by Sensei to practice kata. I just knew the first three movements of Seisan. For the next two hours I repeated them innumerable times till there was a puddle of water on the tile floor around me (which was am oft repeated experience in the future and proved to be my best weapon sparring brown and black belts). Sensei just stood next to the wall and watched.
He taught about 1/3 of the classes with Dennis Lockwood the most often instructor but there were a never ending chain of other Black Belts who would come to class and help.
A few years ago Sensei confirmed that his teaching paradigm was patterned a great deal by how Shimabuku Sensei taught class.
My greatest impression of Dennis Lockwood came on the night we were practicing Kote Kitae. He had chosen me to work with and began to strike into me. As his power became evident I worked to match it. Before long I was striking him as hard as I could and my stomach muscled worked to absorbed those strikes. He kept increasing the power. Suddenly he stopped and I was still standing.
Those classes were mostly for the White through Brown Belts. There were separate Black Belt practice times.
One night Charles Murray was home from college. He came to the Dojo with one of his friends. I didn’t understand why but others moved to the side of the dojo leaving the center open. Then the two of them began sparring, and I understood why no one wanted to be near. The fighting was levels beyond our best. with my attempts being non existent at best. Other times he came to spar with Dan our current strongest brown belt. He looked like target practice for Charles, but really he was sparring with him to help him improve.
A little later Sensei called me into his office. He told me for a demonstration at an Ocean City he wished me to spar with Charles. While I agreed to do it, no one said anything else. The next few weeks I drove myself into training. The day of the demonstration all of my seniors were performing, Charles had to be shown how to wear safety-gear as it was a new product those days. Sensei called hajime and I guess I tore into Charles. Then he responded to my attack and again I went all out (for me) so he proceeded to tap dance all over me. Nobody had told me it was to go easy and I was trying my best to perform before my Sensei. Later I heard someone was concerned that they should stop it for my safety, but Sensei let it go on. Charles and I were destined to become fast friends.