Rank Black Sash-First Level
I first became aware of the martial arts around age 6 or 7, watching Captain Kirk's karate chops, samurai swordsmen on ABC's Wide World of Sports, and the TV series Kung Fu. Around the same time I saw an ad in the back of a comic book that promised I could learn Kung Fu for only $7. The illustration showed a muscular man with a woman in each arm, and that looked pretty good to me, although I was a bit suspicious about the low price.
My first look at the reality of training came from a book by ,Vital Karate, which showed "incredible feats an ordinary person could not dream of", like splitting a watermelon with a spearhand, chopping off the top of a standing bottle, or breaking a stack of roofing tiles with the knife edge of the foot. The book also detailed the Karate practitioner's training regimen, and showed self-defense scenarios.
My martial arts training began in 1981 in a small Kung Fu class in Rochester, NY. We gathered weekly and went over some basic exercises, a few of which I still do today at the VKFA. My training continued more formally in 1983 when I joined in Rochester. I was always more interested in Kung Fu than other martial arts, and this was a traditional Chinese Kung Fu school. Sifu Duteau studied under Grandmaster Alan Lee of the . The staff at Sifu Duteau's school was very respectful and disciplined, and Sifu Duteau's dedication to teaching this traditional art form was an inspiration. After the first practice, I couldn't even lift my hand to my face. My muscles had never been used this way, and I was hooked. I had found my home for the next four years. We drilled the basics--stances, strikes, self defenses--as well as an extensive stretching and conditioning regimen, all of which completely changed me physically and mentally.
I moved to Vermont in 1987 and tried out a few other martial arts schools until I found Sifu Arthur Makaris in 1988. Since then I have focused on learning forms, and continued with the comprehensive, holistic conditioning regimen that Chinese Kung Fu offers. The Academy opened its new location in 1994. It was a dream come true for us, to have a permanent home after years of training in gyms, schoolyards, dance studios and backyards. I have enjoyed watching the Academy grow since then, and am honored to be able to work with new and experienced students, sharing what is closest to my heart--this discipline, this art that has so thoroughly changed me. I know I will be practicing Kung Fu my whole life, and look forward to improving my skills and deepening my understanding of all that our training offers--physically, mentally and spiritually.