I discovered this photograph on the Grand Master Donald Bohan’s Memorial Website at http://www.bohans-family.com/index.htm , this site is maintained by Wayne Wyland. It was taken in Salisbury Maryland on the day Mitchum Sensei was there to have seminars. Those attending, shown here, were the IKC seniors of Lewis Sensei who also were present at my black belt test.
It was a sunny day in Salisbury, Md. Harold Mitchum was visiting Mr. Lewis’ dojo, the original karate barn, to hold two clinics. One for those under black belt and one for black belts. It was also the day I was to be tested by the IKC (Isshinryu Karate Club’s of Tom Lewis).
I was then training under Charlie Murray in the Scranton area. We had traveled there for the clinics and for my black belt testing. Chariie had driven me to Seaford, Delaware (his home) to attend. I was originally a student of Lewis Sensei, but I ended up in Scranton, Pa. having to move for work. A year later Charles took a church nearby and I had started training with him since that date.
We had the first clinic. Most of it is just a memory but I recall Mitchum Sensei talking about his experiences on Okinawa and Shimabuku Sensei.
While waiting for the 2nd one to begin, I was asked by several of my seniors if I didn’t want to spar. They had me go with one of Reese Rigby’s brown belts. I remember going back and forth with him, then Charles tearing out of Sensei’s office shouting at me. “Victor, what do you think you are doing, you should be saving your energy.” He put a stop to that happening. I think I imagine those black belts watching were having fun.
Then the 2nd clinic began. I believe Mitchum Sensei went further demonstrating kata. He explained that many of the current kobudo kata were not done in those day. Because Charles had me learn the Tonfa kata from the Steve Armstrong film of Shimabuku Sensei, I was requested to perform it. I did it then.
It was after the clinic this picture was taken. The person marked unknown on the photograph is Buddy Summers, who was one of the individuals who trained with me when I started in Salisbury.
After the clinics we went out to dinner. It seemed all were watching me. One of the instructor’s remarked perhaps I shouldn’t be eating. I was on pins and needles.
I remember leaving, being taken to Lewis Sensei’s home to get ready, and then being blindfolded and taken for a drive. It seemed to go on forever.
Finally I ended up at the dojo. I was taken in, eventually to face Mr. Mitchum, Mr. Lewis and the IKC members there for my testing.
I do not talk openly about the event, suffice it was long and unique.
Eventually it ended, I was taken back to the locker room, eventually blindfolded, then taken to Sensei’s office. Then I was awarded my black belt.
I recall a party afterward, but none of the details that occurred.
Eventually I returned to Charles home and went to bed. My new black belt was under the pillow. Thoughts that I certainly wasn’t good enough and that I had to now work harder, were going thorough my head as I fell asleep.
The next day as we were driving back to Scranton Charles (who was then in his role as a Pentacostal Mininster) asked me a question. “Victor, if you are in a plane at 30,000 feet and it is going to crash, what good is your karate going to do you.”
I replied, “Why, I’d get into the aisle, assume Sanchin stance and at the exact moment of impact would strike forward neutralizing the impact.”
Oh the power of positive thinking, I was a black belt.