Michael Taylor, received his black belt in 1972. He was Sensei Smith’s second black belt. Phil was Sensei’s first student to receive a black belt. Both Phil and Michael found their way into the US Navy. Phil became an Officer in the Nuclear Navy and Michael became a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserves. Michael has dedicated his life to the education of children. Thirty-two years ago, he started as a middle school Social Studies teacher. He then became an Elementary School Principal, and currently is the Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Todd County, Kentucky.
Michael recounts that: “I was a kid that was bullied all through elementary, middle and my first couple years of high school, mainly because I was always small for my age. Although I was a good athlete, I was an easy target because of my small stature. Most of the bullying was in the form of verbal abuse, and because it happened for so long, it destroyed me emotionally and took a heavy toll on my self-confidence. I started studying karate under Sensei Smith in March of my freshman year in high school. By the time I was a junior, I walked through the halls with a renewed confidence in myself. I became a black belt in 1972 during my senior year in high school. Through Shorin-Ryu Karate, I became more confident in myself and developed leadership skills that became instrumental in my professional career. ”
In martial arts, we train for many reasons – improved health, fitness, etc. However, the main reason most of us learn karate is for self-defense. So the question that everyone eventually asks is obvious. Have you ever had to use what you know? Michael answers this question simply “Yes” and then follows with this comment: “I was with a date one night in Virginia Beach when a very
intoxicated man walking behind us began to harass me. When I confronted the man, he started to pull out a pocket- knife. In an instant, a well placed side kick, followed by a front snap kick, crumbled him to the sidewalk. The incident was over in a matter of seconds. The important point is that my many years of training enabled me to effectively react and eliminate a threat. It was an unfortunate occurrence in my life. I don’t even like to talk about it. Fortunately, I was prepared to deal with it because of the outstanding physical and mental training I received at the OBI Karate School.”
As with anything in life, we get out of it what we are willing to put into it. During my years of studying karate, many people came to the dojo who were bigger, stronger and faster than I was. However, they did not have the determination to stick with it when things got tuff. To be successful, we have to set goals and develop a plan to achieve those goals. Life isn’t always easy and sometimes we suffer setbacks, but we have to have the resolve to learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward. It is not about what we do for a living, but who we are as a human being that people will remember.