I remember driving from Scranton, Pa to Charles Murray’s home in Deleware. I knew the day following I would be taking my Black Belt examination. That evening he toom me out to see a movie to take my mind off of what would be happening. The movie was Superman, and all I could think of was how poorly Superman held his own fist, but I suppose if you were super it really didn’t matter.
For the past year or so I had been training under the instruction of Charles Murray.
We studied Kusanku, Sunsu, Sanchin together. Our studies also went to kobudo of the Isshinryu system. Tokomeni No Kon, Urashie No Bo, Kusanku Sai and Chantan Yara No Sai. He also had me teach myself from the 1966 movie the tonfa form ‘Chia Fa’.
Instruction consisted of vigorous kata workout and vigorous kumite. I would note his kumite skill level was way above where I was.
Then the day arrived when he told me I was to be tested for my Black Belt by the Isshinryu Karate Association of Lewis Sensei. Perhaps it was a cold, sunny day, but I wasn’t paying attention to the weather.
The day of my examination Howard Mitchum was also there with is friend Lewis Sensei.
Mr. Mitchum was holding two clinics earlier in the day, one for kyu students and one for Dan students.
It was a very interesting time, but I admit I was not as focused on his clinics.
Between the Kyu clinic and the Dan clinic Charles was in Lewis Sensei’s office discussing things with him.
The entire IKA was there for the clinics, especially all the Black Belts.
Reese Rigby, one of my Seniors from Dover, came up to me and asked me to spar with his senior kyu. Of course I agreed. I remember Reese starting us, and I remember tearing into him, probably the best I ever felt fighting. The fight went on for a while. Then Charles came tearing out of Sensei’s office, shouting at me. He told me, “Victor, what do you think you are doing. Save yourself for later.” Then that was that.
Mr. Mitchum gave his Dan clinic. A lot of it was his reminiscing about his time on Okinawa. He expressed when he was there, tonfa was not one of the studies. Charles volunteered that I had learnt the form Chia Fa, and he volunteered that I could demonstrate it. So I did.
Afterwards all of the Black Belts went out to dinner with Mr. Mitchum.
My exam was to be held later in the night.
Throughout the meal, everyone kept looking at me, some remarked that I really should not be eating. It was a very unusual time.
Then I was taken to Lewis Sensei’s home to change for the examination. I was blindfolded and taken out to his car to be driven around.
Eventually I was guided out of his car and taken someplace. I was still blindfolded. Once there I was set down and left alone.
Eventually Charles came for me, removed my blindford, I noted that I was in the club locker room, and he told me it was time.
I was then led out into the dojo with a spotlight shining in my eyes, not permitting me to clearly see who was there.
It turned out it was Lewis Sensei, Mr. Mitchum and all of the Black Belts of the IKA who were there to test me. All of them tested me.
The test progressed, the details are private within the IKA. Everyone there entered into my testing at many levels.
When I was finished I was led back to the locker room to wait what seemed a very long time.
Later Charles came for me and took me to Lewis Sensei’s office, everyone had crowded in.
Sensei told me I passed my examination, then he gave my my certificate and my black belt.
Other things happened, eventually we ended up back as Sensei’s where I could change.
Then Charles took me back to his parent’s home to spend the night.
I remember I slept with my black belt under my pillow.