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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories » The Kenpo is strong with this one

The Kenpo is strong with this one

Story time.

In the fall of 1990 I started my sophomore year of high school. It was my second year living in the town of Celina and while I made friends, that year I would make many who would become lifelong. One afternoon in the workout gym, I was approached by a football

Mr. Wilson and me, new times like old times

Mr. Wilson and me, new times like old times

player (jock?) who said he’d heard I knew karate. With constant pressure from him, I gave in to his requests to show him something. I asked him to attack me with a regular punch. Then did Five Swords. So began my career in sales and my friendship with Mr. Damian Wilson. He was sold and told me if Kenpo was all like that, then he wanted to learn it.

Not having been in a formal martial arts class since we left Curtis Abernathy’s class in Midland, TX when we moved to Celina, I did my best teaching. We developed our own Kenpo group of high school buddies (beginning with 4 and sometimes growing to 8 of us). Starting out in my yard and moving to other’s garages, we slowly found our way practicing as often as we could. Eventually we even found a studio close by and all began training under Mr. Hickman.  Those classes were the rough type of fun with lots of hitting and sparring. It was a solid, almost 3 years of Kenpo.

But the seasons change and our group slowly broke up. Mr. Wilson graduated. I graduated and moved far away for college. Then life just seemed to happen. College, wife, family and kids, business, career. Off and on I would hear about the old Kenpo guys through a friend of a friend or even be in touch occasionally with more of a “how’s it going feel” rather than a “we need to train again feel.”

I have no ounce of regret in any of this at all. Life happens the way it does, and I’ve been blessed. But I also believe that when the student is ready, a teacher will appear.

And he did. 16 years later. In early 2009, I get a phone call out of the blue from Mr. Wilson. He was in McKinney, Texas for a few months on a job and was also preparing for his black belt test. (Black belt, really?) He was looking for a training partner. So we agreed that if he taught my girls, I’d be his punching bag and review partner. Just like old times.(-ish) He’d come over two or three times a week, we’d move furniture around, and train on our hardwood floors. Only now he was doing the teaching, and I was finding back on the path, this time though with my girls.

There’s a Star Wars joke in here somewhere about the circle being complete and a student/master thing. But since we’re Kenpo nerds, I’ll just call it category completion.

There is an adage in Kenpo I’ve heard many times. You will leave the art long before the art leaves you. This rings very true in my case. In fact, of our original karate high school group, the majority have left and found their way back to Kenpo. All of us bringing our families back when we did so. I will forever be in debt to Mr. Wilson for bring me back to Kenpo, putting me on the path, and guiding us along the way. My hope is to help others in the same fashion as he’s done for my family.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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