Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Osu! Ok, so where the heck have I been all this time???
Well, let us just say that since my return from NYC, my mind has been slowly undergoing a metamorphosis, ergo my solitude.

So, what happened on the trip? Well, my stay in NYC was quite refreshing to say the very least. My student Jim Carbaugh took me to the airport at a ridiculously early time, which I thank him very much for. I was picked up at Newark Airport by Sempai John Libutti who was generous enough to reorchestrate his real estate work schedule so as to have the day to spend with me.

I had the honor of being the guest of my good friend Hanshi Wilfredo Roldan for my entire stay. That is to say that I resided at Nisei GoJu Headquarters on Avenue A and 7th street.

The first night, after going to dinner at the DoJo Restaurant on St. Mark’s Place with Sempai Libutti, we returned to Nisei Hq. to find the Italian GoJu team that I had sponsored with an invitational letter to come to NYC on the floor training for the tournament. Kyoshi Walter Meneghini and his troops were something to be seen. After being totally impressed by the Italians, I figured it was time to give them an ear and to see what it was that they were looking for. We went across the street to a place that I used to “work” at that used to be called King Tut’s Wa Wa Hut. We discussed potential relations on an official tip, as well as my coming to Italy to do seminars. By the way, I will be going there shortly. Thanks once again to Sempai Libutti for assisting me during the meeting.

My seminar went so unbelievably well, I am almost at loss for words. Hanshi Roldan was a great help, with the use of his dojo, as well as his running the door and also helping me on the floor from time to time. You couldn’t ask for a better friend folks, and recently I have found that I have a few real friends, some who I didn’t even realize that I had any more.

The morning of the seminar, after a pleasant breakfast at a Ukrainian restaurant with Hanshi Roldan, I made my planned stop at Kinkos to print out the seminar certificates, only to find that both the format of my disk, and the lack of any help what so ever from the one and only employee working at Kinkos that morning, was to make it impossible for me to produce the certificates. Hence their having to be mailed out later from Florida by Kyoshi Price, who also has been so instrumental in this project as well as so many others that thanks is just not enough.

The seminar was a literal who’s who. I was very happy to have my old boys club who trained with me back in the day show up. Sempai John Libutti, Sempai Zino Salnave, and his brother Monday “yes that’s really his name,” Shodan, Manny Perez, Joe Tavano and a remarkable guest appearance by the one and only Pete Melendez who I was both surprised and happy to see being that our paths have not crossed since our gangster days…… but we wont talk about that, will we????

Here is a list of others that attended in no specific order: Walter Menegnhini, Fabio Mandolo, Fabio Panizzola, Roberto Vido, Roberto Zanini, John Barbetta, Aaron Pearce, Ray Herman, Danniel Lemus, Howard Turoff, Tony Berger, Kevin McGrath, Richard Fiore, James Lee, Steven Charles, Gernell Barton, Garry Gascoyne, Robert Rullan, John Lyons, Kevin Johnson, Jeremiah Perez. If you didn’t get mentioned, I am sorry, but that means that you did not sign my guest book.

It was great to see Steven Charles again. Steve and I were in the USMC together many years ago, and while stationed in Okinawa Japan where I brought him into the GoJu system. Wow!, that was in 1980! Anyway, Steve became a member of Harlem GoJu when he got out of the USMC and returned to NYC. Now practicing and teaching with Sensei James Lee, the two of them not only attended the seminar but are now officially in my GoJuLandia South organization. There are others that have made application as to membership, and have been accepted. When your dues are paid, you will be officially listed.

Many people took photos and video tape of my seminar, but unfortunately only a few have sent me what they took, so I am limited to what I have to put on this blog.

Ok, now for the rest of my stay. Hanshi Roldan and I tore up the town = Lower East Side, the night before Sunday’s tournament. Yes, it was quite nice to be back stomping in my old stomping grounds once again, especially with my partner in crime. No, we didn’t get arrested, but that’s because we are now old, wise and slicker than ever………….. although the folks at a club called “Vagina” will always remember how they had to tactfully figure out a way to get two celebrity bad guys to understand that although we are who we are, that we cannot smoke in NYC clubs any longer. They did attempt to offer us hookah pipes to smoke, but we chose to move on to another location rather than to partake in their over priced Turkish goodies. By the way, I drank Hanshi Roldan under the table, a fact that he will no doubt attempt to debate………….. but then again, he could be right.

Now for the tournament: Ok, Sunday morning Hanshi Roldan and I took a cab from the Lower East Side, up to Spanish Harlem. The event was held at an old NYC public school, and let me tell ya, it is a real pain in the hip for someone like me with an arthritic hip to have to climb the stairs all day in order to get to the 2 different floors that contained the 2 separate gyms that were used. The event seemed a bit weird to me in that it was run by different people than our usual yearly event run by Shihan Gotay. The attendance was not as big, and there were quite a few schools that are not normally present. Juluia Urban Kimmerly was there as well as Sekwii Sha, but still it seemed strange some how. I did get a chance to spend some quality time talking with “The Black Dragon” Ron Van Clief, to briefly run a ring with Wild Cat Molina, and see many other old friends, but like I said, it was not the same.

The funniest part was when after a fantastic Jujitsu Demo done by Master Giacommetti’s group from Italy, there was an awards ceremony in which the Urban Legacy folks received nice plaques. I however was left out of this ????????? But it seems that when someone realized that this had happened, I was called up to receive the next type of award that was given, which was for those who were instrumental in the making of the event. I had to laugh when I read my award which was made out to someone named Steven Melendez. I have a ½ Cuban daughter “Melissa” so I suppose that it is appropriate that now I have an Hispanic last name to go with her…………….. Ha ha ha………..

I am not saying that it was a bad tournament, just not what I expected, however, I am happy to say that Sempai John Libutti took 1st place in ShoDan Kata, and that the Italian team that I brought did so well that they had to fight each other for Grand Champion Black Belt fighting.

Shihan William Rivera who is a writer and editor for www.martialforce.com which is a cyber martial arts magazine was at both my seminar and the tournament to cover the action for the two days. I am looking forward to seeing what he will write. It was a great pleasure to go out to dinner after the tournament with Shihan Rivera and his girlfriend as well as Hanshi Roldan at a Puerto Rican restaurant on Avenue A. Nothing like good old fashioned Hispanic home cookin! Especially with quality company.

I am looking forward to my next NYC trip and to possibly make future plans to stay there for good this time