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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories » My First Kiss of the Dragon

My First Kiss of the Dragon

My path in karate began in the early 1980s when my family took Tae Kwon Do at the Midland, TX YMCA. In 1986 we moved over to American Kenpo when the instructor, Mr. Curtis Abernathy, decided to change styles.  Since we liked him as an instructor, my dad and I changed with him.

We gave up our Tae Kwon Do brown belts to start over in Kenpo. When it came time for the first test in Kenpo, Mr. Abernathy wasn’t yet certified to administer tests on behalf of the International Kenpo Karate Association (IKKA). But the IKKA did send a black belt out to Midland to test us.

Sam Bowley receiving the Kiss of the Dragon at Green Belt Test

Sam Bowley receiving the Kiss of the Dragon at Green Belt Test

Keep in mind that I was eleven years old at the time, so my memory of it has a lot of holes and probably some exaggerations. For starters, I don’t remember who the black belt was running the test.  But I do remember it was in a park and there was a group of ten of us or so. My dad and I were the only ones testing for orange belt. Everyone else was going for yellow belt.  We were lined in up two rows with me being in the front left (basically first position).

When the curriculum portion of the test was over we were told it was time to receive our Kiss of the Dragon. (Don’t know what that is? Look here, or here, or here, or here, or here)  However, on this day, I also didn’t know what it was.  And therefore was unprepared.  And didn’t get a warning.  Just breathe in and punch! (Thankfully it wasn’t a kick)  My whole body crumbled and just molded around the tester’s arm.

My dad was standing next to me, still in stance, and saw my collapse.  He’s recounted to me how he was getting upset that no one told us this was coming and started to see red.  Then he got hit too.  Same effect as me.  I honestly have no recollection of anything else that happened at the test.

What’s the point of telling this Kenpo story, especially this way?  Three reasons.  First, it’s a fun story after-the-fact.  Looking back, I wasn’t seriously hurt nor was anyone else.

Second to illustrate how I, we, don’t do Kiss of the Dragon ceremonies like that.  Based on my experiences since then and everything I’ve heard, most testers go easier on kids and lower rank belts.  All the black belts I associate with want the Kiss of the Dragon to be meaningful, but still want you to come back to class too.

Finally though, and most importantly, to show the point that there will be bumps in the Kenpo path.  Injury, frustration, or just life in general can happen.  I don’t remember much, but I know that punch hurt and I didn’t like it.  Yet, I’m still in Kenpo.  Proudly, in fact.  My dad continued on as well.  There will be obstacles in the Kenpo journey.  How you overcome them says more about you than any belt color could.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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