Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Many rivers to cross
So today is a milestone…of sorts: my 53’rd birthday and the Amherst Athletic Club’s 26’th. Thus, I have been running a small business--or I should say it has been running me--for almost exactly half my life.
What my wife (a co-founder who is gainfully employed elsewhere as an Entrepreneurship Professor but still teaches Karate, Spin, Aerobics, does the bookkeeping, etc--all for no pay) calls a “lifestyle business.”
The “business” opened 1/30/82 on my 27’th birthday. It was either that or suicide. Ten years earlier, fat and introverted, I fell in love with karate at the crossroads age of 17.
My single minded series of goals were nothing if not ambitious: to become a Black Belt by age 19 (usually takes 4 years), attain a Regional Ranking in Sport Karate by age 21, become Nationally Ranked by age 23 and, finally, #1 in the nation at age 26.
My first instructor said to me that an average person has one chance in 10,000 of even making Black Belt but my chances were ten times worse. Grrrrrr.
I attained the first three goals ahead of schedule (Black belt at 18.5, six times ranked #1 in New England and four times ranked Top Ten in the nation), but as 1982 dawned I knew that I was going to fall just short of the last goal. I figured I would move up only one from my #5 ranking, but ended up at #3, just ahead of archrival Billy Blanks (pre Tae Bo days) at #4.
His manager was so angry she threatened to suit Karate Illustrated the magazine in charge of ratings. Billy had accumulated way more rating points than I by winning small local events against nobody’s but I had beaten him in Florida at an A-rated event where I took my one and only Grand Championship.
Since my goal had not technically failed until my birthday, and I did not want to be suicidal on that day, I decided to distract myself by opening a Karate School at the Mt. Farms Mall in Hadley, otherwise known as the “Dead Mall”.
We moved to The People’s Republic of Amherst a year later; and the rest as they say is history…ongoing.