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Avenger Blackbelt Leadership

Lead, Follow, or Get the Hell Out of the Way!

A martial arts leader’s success is tantamount to the respect he/she earns from all he/she encounters. The three variables of leadership are the Sensei (Instructor), the karate-ka (karate student/s), and the situation (circumstance). A good leader will assess each variable in detail and take appropriate action. Avenger Blackbelts are expected to always set an interminable example as a martial artist. They don’t pretend to be a leader by taking short cuts from responsibility & accountability. Below are the 27 leadership attributes that every Avenger Blackbelt must endeavor to attain. Each calendar week every Avenger Blackbelt need self-evaluate his/her triumphs and failures to the attainment of these attributes.

Renshi Michael Mobley

27 Atributes of an Avenger Blackbelt

1. Toughness is the staying power of champions. A weak leader can not “direct the way”. Avenger Blackbelts conduct themselves mentally and physically in an assertive manner when necessary. Junior karate-ka, without a doubt, will lack confidence of a Blackbelt’s abilities if he/she presents them selves in a weak manner.

AvengerClub.jpgAn easy example of mental toughness is how so many Avengers never took drugs, alcohol, or smoked. A strong mind and body is necessary to resist negative temptation from acquaintances, friends, or family. During the sixties, drugs, alcohol, and cigarette smoking was very common, yet many Avengers shunned these things as weak. Hanshi Hawkins taught Avengers, despite the fact that most peers were doing these things, it is as Bushi (warriors), to always prepared for possible mental, spiritual, and physical altercations. Many times he imparted wisdom in Avengers that people getting “high” were weak and very vulnerable. Avengers desire to achieve “Bushi toughness” therefore reject these addictive pastimes.

An extreme example of Avenger physical toughness that I experienced, as a white belt, occurred during the 1960’s at the Sharp Street Gym. There was an Avenger Greenbelt named Chester who was sparring (back then kumite was bare knuckles) and received a punch to his mouth and his tooth was knocked out. The good thing was that he didn’t swallow his tooth and simply spit it out where it landed in a corner of the dojo. Instead of stopping, he continued sparring. I realized that he had to feel a great deal of pain, but despite that he continued to spar. His toughness inspired me at continuing to progress in karate because at that time I had never witnessed that degree of toughness by anyone and I desired to achieve toughness like Chester.

AvengerClub.jpgAlso, during the 1960’s, another unique situation involving unmatched physical toughness occurred when I witnessed an Avenger Bushi name Wayne Carlton sparring with a broken arm, in a sling, while executing kicking combinations and using only one hand to block and strike his several opponents that he sparred that evening. Most people would say that he was insane to do that, including his doctor, but Wayne didn’t care for his unthinkable goal of getting better at fighting was not understood by most people. Avenger Blackbelts do not aspire to become weak; instead they desire to become tough, and sometimes at unheard-off sacrifices! Toughness is expected of an Avenger Blackbelt when training karate-ka. Setting a tough example by being able to do what he/she teaches, is very essential for motivating karate-ka to reach high standards. Simply put, when karate-ka observe instructors accomplishing marveled feats involving mental and physical endurance, strength, and speed they often emulate their performance, while improving their skills and fitness to become successful students. An Avenger Blackbelt will always seek the highest mental & physical standards.

One of the best examples of toughness is Renshi Leroy Wright. This Bushi is as tough as they come. He probably can’t pronounce the word soft because his karate seirei (spirit) is without question as resilient as they come. His training principles are vigorous and challenging resulting in karate-ka focused for training, while progressing through belt ranks from Whitebelt to Blackbelt. Also, for years he coaches youth football leagues resulting in championship after championship. Rough and tough Baltimore Raven’s “all pro” middle linebacker, Ray Lewis would marvel at Leroy’s tough training regiment for the kids he trains, to include accomplished results.


One can’t forget Betty Hawkins. “Sweet but tough”, this lady fought like an assassin. She overwhelmed her opponents with wicked reverse punch combinations that terrified female fighters throughout the Northeast coast. Her “fightingtude” was simple, “search & destroy!” Witnessing her spar opponents was like viewing a slaughter. She attacked opponents like a carnivorous scavenger hunting prey. Funny thing, immediately after her matches she would put on her charming smiling face and appear as nice “Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz.


2. Demeanor*1 - An Avenger Blackbelt must always demonstrate behavior, manners, and appearance worthy of emulation to a superior echelon of perception. Virtually all aspiring Karate-ka "mentally scan" an Avenger Blackbelt’s demeanor. An Avenger Blackbelt should always wear a clean and neat Gi with pride. As, a beloved friend and jester of the Avengers, Big Sonny use to say, “A Blackbelt should be cleaner than a pot of cabbage greens.” Always look, think, and act sharp.


An Avenger, Hanshi Hawkins brother, Renshi Glen Hawkins always seemed to inspire peers to achieve good demeanor. Glen was the first Avenger that I’ve ever witnessed, to don a black colored Gi. Back then, Avengers wore “lion brand dark navy blue Gi’s.” Instead, Glen Hawkins wore a black Gi, as if he jumped off a sales merchandizing picture of a karate supply catalog. He always tied his belt neat and correct. Also, Glen had that “James Bond coolness”. He always conducted himself in a quiet, astute, and articulate manner, but yet was very “down to earth”. For a person who possesses deadly fighting skills, while carrying him self in a calm & collected manner is truly unique. Bushi Glen Hawkins bearing personifies the acronym “NEAT” (Neat, Ease, Articulate, & Tough). He is what one would call a “smooth operator”. Glen was respected & feared by many. As a teenager he terrorized adult students with his lightning fast techniques. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday people would travel afar by foot, bus, or cab from around the city of Baltimore to witness his dynamic and treacherous kicks and chops that massacred students during kumite. He fought everyone serious and harsh and devastated all he encountered. Glen fails miserably to characterize the word soft. Yet, his looks and personality are deceivingly at best, mild mannered. Any bully would suspect that he would be half as tough as he appears. A bully making the fatal mistake of challenging him to a fight will probably have a lifetime scar from Glen’s skin lacerating hand and foot strikes. His cold and calm mannerisms coupled with tough and bold fighting confidence inspired and impressed competitors and spectators from abroad. Glen was cool and brutal as the Godfather’s “Michael Corleone”, but unlike that movie character he was very approachable.

Avenger and Baltimore City Major Sheila Dixon, who also is the aunt of professional Toronto Raptor basketball player Juan Dixon, consistently displays consummate demeanor. At the time of her inauguration as mayor, only one U.S. city larger than Baltimore had a female mayor (Dallas, Texas).(1) She is currently the only African American female mayor in the United States in a city with a population greater than 600,000 and she is also the first African American woman to serve as Baltimore's mayor.

Although she's only been in office for a short period of time, she "has impressed political pundits with her energetic first three months and her ability to handle crises." She led the effort to pass Baltimore's smoking ban, she's allocated record funding for campaigns to clean up Baltimore streets and she's expanded funding for affordable housing. While her critics complain that crime has risen in Baltimore during her tenure and that she is not paying enough attention to the issue, her record shows that she has increased police patrols, is cracking down on the possession of illegal guns, and is actively securing federal funds for crime fighting programs.

Dixon has been named one of Baltimore's Most Influential Leaders by the Baltimore Business Journal and was recently admitted to The Daily Record's Circle of Excellence for her third selection as one of "Maryland's Top 100 Women." An active member of Bethel A.M.E. Church and former trustee, Mayor Dixon continues to serve as a member of the Stewardess Board. She serves on other boards, including the Institute of Human Virology, the Transplant Resource Center, the Urban Health Initiative, the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, the Living Classrooms Foundation, and the Walters Art Gallery.

She is a member of the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition,” an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino.

Also what should be added to her list of accomplishments is the fact that she is the first “female Blackbelt” to become a Mayor. In addition, she may be the first “Blackbelt” (male or female) ever elected as a Mayor. Sheila has always demonstrated polished demeanor. Her personal bearing coupled with her sense to accomplish any mission is within the cherished traditions of the Avengers Karate Club.

In summary, an Avenger Blackbelt should always inspire a positive, never negative, image to everyone. Look sharp and be sharp!

3. Keeping it Real
– Simply put; be frank, sincere, and forthright. An Avenger Blackbelt needs to be open, honest, and truthful concerning how he/she communicates with everyone. An Avenger Blackbelt doesn’t legitimize “phony communication”; instead they are straightforward and considerate. Junior karate-ka will see through spurious personalities. An Avenger Blackbelt aspires to have a down to earth persona. The late great R & B entertainer James Brown would say, “Just talking loud and saying nothing”. An Avenger Blackbelt gets to the point! They never try to be what they’re not. As Big Sonny would say, “Don’t talk me to death because I don’t want to die.” The best example that I’ve witness concerning an Avenger keeping it real is Hanshi Hawkins. Despite of his greatness, his attitude is truly remarkable. The love that he has bestowed on the Avengers’ organization for over 40 years is, “true down to earth love”. Author Don Byas stated, “You call it madness, but I call it love”. For many years, Hanshi Hawkins so-called “madness or love” has become incredibly apparent and is felt in the hearts of thousands that have had the fortune to know him. I have personally traveled to 5 different continents and have visited and witnessed other martial arts instructors but I’ve never witnessed an instructor who “keeps it real as Hanshi Hawkins”!

4. Commitment - Commitment challenges an Avengers Blackbelt’s loyalty, accountability acceptance, and promise for undertaking tasks for completion. An Avenger Blackbelt must always be dedicated and obligated to carrying out missions that he/she has responsibility. Commitment challenges an Avenger Blackbelt’s loyalty, accountability acceptance, and promise for undertaking tasks for completion. He/she is always devoted to the success of undertakings involving the responsibility of position status and organization.

A good example of this is my observation of Renshi Tony Jackson. Although he joined the wrong Army (the Marines, I’ll try not to hold that against him - laugh) he demonstrates great commitment to the Avengers organization. He always exhibits a “make it happen attitude”. When Hanshi Hawkins gives him a task he “runs with it with passion to complete”. His dedication has not gone unnoticed, as he has almost single-handedly organized Avenger Hall of Fame events, ranks promotions, demonstrations, trips to Atlanta, merchandised Gi’s, patches, and other products & services.

 

I would be ashamed if I exhibited gross negligence by not extending recognition of the commitment displayed by Renshi Leonard Williams. This Bushi volunteered to design & develop the Avengers Blackbelt certificate. Already being a very talented artist, he designed a certificate praiseworthy for only the best Blackbelts that Shorin-Ryu karate has to offer. His diligence in devising and drawing a certificate is worthy of admiration. The amazing thing about this Bushi is that he does these certificates by hand! Instead of the use of Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Print Shop, or other software, he uses artistic hand calligraphy that is admired by all who observe. Leonard’s assiduous attitude for creating a top quality Blackbelt certificate is in accord with the cherished traditions of the Avengers Karate Club.

5. Proficiency - Author Nate Mackinnon stated, “It’s exciting to see more and more students receive proficiency. But we are constantly seeking to improve the achievement gap.” Entrepreneur businessman, Ralph Lauren, clearly endorsed this truism by stating that; “Knowledge is not a passion from without the mind, but an active exertion of the inward strength, vigor and power of the mind, displaying itself from within.” An Avenger Blackbelt should always be tenacious in pursuit of his/her yin/yang (mind and body). The act of mental & physical skill improvement is the keystone of an Avenger Blackbelt. An unknown author once wrote that “wisdom doesn’t automatically come with old age. Nothing does – except wrinkles. It’s true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.”

Acquiring martial arts competence and wisdom is a process that should be sought for from a karate-ka commencement to a martial artists experience without end. Just as it’s very important for an academic student to early achieve a solid foundation of reading, writing, and arithmetic, which better prepares him/her for future academia, the same applies to martial artists. True, it’s better to have been a “has been than a never was” but an Avenger Blackbelt should always be sentient not to live only on past achievements but instead should aspire yin/yang enhancement throughout his/her martial arts experience.

No one emphasizes this attribute better than Hanshi Hawkins. His teaching philosophy is plain and simple, repetition and more repetition. This isn’t a new teaching concept. In fact great thinkers such as Dale Carnie, and great sports motivators, such as Vince Lombardi, apply this training technique when instructing students. Hanshi Hawkins believes that far too often, Sensei teach karate-ka too many training techniques without taking the necessary time to master them. He trains karate-ka repetitiously until they master what’s taught. A good example of this is how he effectively executed the “karate chop” against his opponents in karate tournament competition. The karate chop, now an outlawed defunct karate tournament technique, probably due to the success of his ferocious scoring on his tournament competitors, he used with great success. This is largely due to his repetitive “karate chop training”. Hanshi Hawkins became a “karate chopping expert.”

He would normally score with the chop against opponents by focusing the target area at the neck. There is an area called the carotid sinus near the carotid artery. The scientific function of this area is to measure and monitor blood pressure. When he hit his opponent’s carotid sinus accurately at a right angle, with powerful force, it would fool the body's natural method of monitoring itself into thinking the blood pressure just shot up dangerously, and tell the brain to temporarily shut down, causing his opponent to be knocked out. If there is any question concerning what I just stated contact Bushi Joe Miller and he’ll explain it in better detail. Unfortunately, Joe was a victim that Hanshi Hawkins struck using this technique. Hanshi Hawkins attributes his successful use of this technique from applied repetition in training. In other words, prior to learning additional hand techniques, first master the technique. Also, he had an extremely successful “ridge hand” which he too attributed to repetition training. Although some opponents knew about his arsenal of techniques but still were unable to defend against. With this philosophical and practical training concept, he trained thousands of Avengers to be successful at kumite in internationally karate tournament competition. Repetition can be tough and demanding but is a trainer’s best friend.

Enriching the total person by balancing mind, body, and spirit is an ancient tradition that Asian society referred to as Teshimi Gakumun (Te – translates to hand / Shimi translates to calligraphy which implies “scholarly pursuit” / Gakumun translates to study). Many martial arts masters learned in a Teshimi Gakumun academy. During ancient times in Asian society many martial artists embraced Confucianism. This philosophy taught that “equilibrium is the great root from which grow all human actions in the world, and this harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue”. Yin & Yang proficiency (proficiency of the mind, spirit, and body) was the mission avowal in a Teshimi Gakumun Academy.

One of the best examples of yin/yang proficiency is Renshi Michael Stinson. This Bushi is very mentally, spiritually, and physically competent. He has worked extremely hard in academics, moral spirit, and martial arts all his life. He has held very high level distinguished managerial positions at the worldly acclaimed Black &Decker Corporation. Not only does he lead & manage many employees at Black & Decker, he also does the same at home.

He is the father of 6 children and insists they achieve the highest academic & physical proficiency, and spiritual edification. Bushi Michael is a gentleman and his high standards for excellence inspire all who comes in contact with him.

This Bushi is any sparring opponent’s nightmare in the ring. His reputation of throwing horrendous flurries of kicks & punches left many opponents heading to the hospital. Every time he sparred, it was as if he “threw caution to the wind!” His sensational battles earned him the nickname “Madman Stinson.” More appropriately, he should have earned the nickname “Madgentleman Stinson” because he was ferocious in but cordial outside the ring.

Another great example of a martial artist hungry for yin/yang growth is Arnold Mitchell. This Bushi has traveled as far as Okinawa, Japan, and Hong Kong to enrich his martial arts edification concerning the art and science of Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu. Currently he has left the Avenger organization to study under Frank Hargrove, of Hampton, Virginia, and continues to search for “new knowledge of old knowledge” in Shorin-ryu for the pursuit for the authenticity of martial arts and to enhance his martial arts universality.

An additional example concerning striving for excellence of yin/yang is Georgia Tech Shorin-ryu Academy Avengers Blackbelts David Ta, and Omkar Jani. David is on the path toward achieving his graduate degree and by the time this article hits the Avenger web page Omkar will probably have earned his PHD!

What’s noteworthy about these two Bushi is it is my opinion that after observing the rest of Georgia Tech Shorin-ryu student Avengers, David & Omkar spend a great deal more Dojo training time than any of their peers. My guess is that their pursuit for academia is analogous to the Dojo example. I predict that these two Bushi will continue to excel all challenging pursuits they engage and become very successful in achieving personal and organizational goals.

6. Self-assurance
- The book of Proverbs states, “Self-assurance is two-thirds of success.” An Avenger Blackbelt, who is poised when performing complex and difficult leadership, instills confidence in his/her junior karate-ka, which will encourage loyalty and desire to follow. Despite of chaotic complexities, he/she is confident of achieving the goal! The late great Bushi Michael Hawkins was a splendid example of the “Self-assurance” attribute. Observing this Bushi in kumite competition during the sixties was a “pleasure of mass proportion.” The dojo or tournament spectator experienced a blissful performance witnessing him dance & shuffle while executing an amalgamation of kicks, punches, and blocks against mesmerized opponents. As the great Muhammad Ali fought during the sixties with great confidence with victories in the pugilistic arena of boxing, so did Michael Hawkins in karate tournaments. Michael was good and he new it! To this day I’ve never seen a kumite competitor exhibit a “braggadocios sweet scientific style” in kumite akin to that of Muhammad Ali.

7. Courage - Charles Dubois stated, “The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” An Avenger Blackbelt demonstrates mental and physical courage to students by setting an example. The great poet & author Maya Angelo stated that, “One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Someone once stated that, “the more you run from fear the more you run into it.” The word retreat is a word foreign to Hanshi Hawkins. Instead of running from fear, he races en route to destroy it. His abhorrence of fear is evident in all of his fights.

The most poignant example of raw courage that I can illustrate is Hanshi Hawkins! I honestly believe that this Bushi could fight a bear (and don’t bet on the bear winning!). Back in 1969, while competing in kumite competition on a Saturday evening in Reading, Pennsylvania, at the Northeast Coast Karate Championships, many witnessed the “second coming of David defeating Goliath”!

Sadly I admit, on that day despite of my observance of many past amazing victories by Sensei Hawkins during that era, I honestly didn’t believe he could defeat a behemoth Bushi (who stood every bit of 6’8 in height and weighing + 250 lbs) named Malachi Lee. On that day he proved my judgment wrong. In fact, he endorsed Albert Einstein’s theory concerning the speed of light. Einstein stated that the closer we approach the speed of light time slows down. Big Sonny, advisor & confidant, (who was the Avenger “Bundini Brown” who performed as an Avenger “jollity jester”.) who had an encyclopedic memory for scientific facts, use to comically state that Hanshi Hawkins hands are so swift that after the fight you’d better reset your watches because his combinations are faster than the speed of light!

Earlier that day, during the tournament eliminations, everyone present was awed in observance as they witnessed competitor after competitor literally flying out of the ring when Malachi Lee executed destructive side kicks that appeared as powerful to knock down a brick wall! As a minimum, his shoe size appeared to have been a size + 18. At the time, Sensei Hawkins weighed about, a muscular fit 180 lbs, while standing only about 5’8” or 5’9” tall. To this day I still remember hearing Sensei Hawkins muttering to an Avenger Bushi named Willie Powell and Big Sonny, “he wasn’t afraid and that the only way he’ll loose is if he gets killed! He then said, “I’m going after him.” I was under the impression that Sensei Hawkins was ignoring the reality that everyone present at the tournament had witnessed earlier that day during the eliminations. Although he too witnessed Malachi Lee’s destructive pummeling of his opponents, Sensei Hawkins demonstrated no fear. In fact, he smiled at Malachi Lee’s annihilation of tournament competitors. I clearly remember saying to myself, “is Sensei Hawkins insane”? Does he realize that he may have to compete against him in the finals? Because of the size differences, it didn’t even appear fair. We all felt that “pound for pound” Sensei Hawkins was better but Malachi Lee was so much bigger and stronger!

Finally, it came down to the last battle of competition! Malachi Lee, with a great deal personal confidence, entered the fighting ring expecting to continue his onslaught of pummeling tournament competitors. Big Sonny, confidently told Sensei Hawkins, “Hurry up and dust this sucker off and let’s go get a bucket of Chicken and go home”. Noticeably Riley smiles and then unexpectedly dons a “fighter’s face” that resembles the seriousness of Bengal tiger in search of prey! As Sensei Hawkins enters the ring we all cheer (In addition, I mentally prayed, and I know I wasn’t the only one to do so). If Vegas had odds on this match, they would probably be 7 to 1 in Malachi Lee’s favor, just as they had on Sonny Liston against Muhammad Ali in 1964. Big Sonny yells at Malachi Lee and says, “You stand a better chance jumping in a lion’s cage with a pork chop vest on than beating the Hawk”! The audience laughs in disbelief. Bushi Willie Powell yells at Malachi Lee, “You’d stand a better chance walking through hell with dynamite in both hands then whuppin da Hawk (whipping Hanshi Hawkins)!” Again, the audience laughs.

Abruptly the referee shouts “Hajime”! Amazingly Sensei Hawkins moves in on Malachi Lee in a confident, cautious, and quick approach, as a ravenous carnivorous Bengal tiger sensing its prey for a feast! Malachi Lee doesn’t hesitate and unleashes a powerful front kick subsequently Sensei Hawkins successfully blocks the kick with his “right hand lead” and unleashes an outbreak of snapping-like striking punches and chops that halts Malachi Lee as if he were hit by rapid machine gun fire! The crowd is bewildered! How could this be? Earlier in the day this “Colossal Killer” destroyed his competitors as a bully does to feeble & fearful victims. Again and again Malachi Lee attempts, even harder, to destroy Sensei Hawkins confidence by executing an assortment of powerful kicks, but to no avail or success. Instead, Sensei Hawkins seizes the attack mode crowding his opponent to soundly destroy this powerful adversarial competitor by executing an amalgamation of expedited hand strikes that “obscures 20/20 eye vision”. His hand combinations were so fast that slow motion replay is a “thought fantasy” on spectator’s minds. The hand combinations are comparable to the level of Muhammad Ali’s quick hand combinations. In fact his techniques are faster as the fight goes on, which causes a few fight judges to not see his score his points. The late great Bundini Brown, use to say, “Muhammad Ali’s hands were so fast that you can’t see half the punches that he lands.”

While Hanshi Hawkins continues to destroy Malachi Lee, Big Sonny is humorously standing in front of the bleachers yelling, ‘Hit him with another nation (combination) that sucker can’t see dem nations, but slow em down because some the refs can’t see em either! Big Sonny looks at Bushi Willie Powell and says, “He in trouble ain’t he Willie! He got em on da run!” Bushi Willie Powell responds in jest, “Somebody give da boy a speeding ticket for running so fast away from the Hawk! Is there a state patrolman in the building? Lock him up for running beyond the speed limit!” Big Sonny lightheartedly says, “hey ref, please stop this humiliation. The boy has had enough. Have mercy on his soul. Hey Hawk lets get that bucket of chicken and go home”. The audience amazingly laughs and Hanshi Hawkins now has Malachi Lee on the run, as he chases him out of the ring. Suddenly, the battle ends as the audience witnessed the second coming of “David destroying Goliath”. It appeared as if the entire spectator audience, whom several did not know Sensei Hawkins, merrily cheered his victory and the hilarities of Big Sonny & Bushi Willie Powell. Following Sensei Hawkins victory, it seems as if almost the entire audience present converts into an entourage on his behalf, for reason of his destruction of this Goliath like figure.

Courage is something you can’t buy or sell. It only comes from within a person that has the audacity to learn & earn life lessons, which are nurtured by the Supreme Being, with a strong desire to achieve paramount success. Many times Sensei Hawkins has demonstrated courage akin to the annals of ancient brave martial arts heroes of Okinawa-te.

8. Creativity - Author Rita Mae Brown stated, “Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” An Avenger Blackbelt who pledges his/her commitment to the cherished traditions and customs of the Avenger Dantai embraces many standards that are averse to change, however, must trust their intuition to deal with a changing world as did the ancestors of Okinawa-te.

Renshi Tyrone Perry was the first student of mine that I promoted to Blackbelt. I started teaching him back in 1972 at the Community College of Baltimore. He is a tough martial artist in search for excellence. Fighting is his biggest passion. Renshi Tyrone Perry is a perfect example of the creativity attribute. His experimental disposition for search of excellence is a “potent brew” of cunning fighter analysis while insisting they perform on the edge of their ability. He is a superb fighter in traditional karate and kickboxing who exercised adroit creativity by adapting martial arts and sciences to coach kick boxers to further their knowledge and skills in martial arts. In doing so, he was successful in training & managing three former world champion kickboxer’s, John Taylor, Steave Williams, and Dulany Muhammad. Also, he helped train former world champion Eddie Butcher. His managerial training pursuits in kickboxing are akin to famous boxing coaches Angelo Dundee’s and Eddie Futch. He develops a close relationship with his fighters and challenges them to tough unyielding training. His creativity is highlighted by his persistence to achieve excellence in his fighters. What’s so unique about his pursuit for “pugilist kicking knowledge” is how his approach endeavored. He has worked extensively with prominent boxing coaches and karate instructors, extracting from their adept minds a merger of successful fighting techniques and skills. Bushi Perry is the crème de la crème kickboxing trainer that has a firm foundation Avengers mind, spirit, and body.

Another fine example of creativity was the late great Avenger Blackbelt Moto. From the first inception of “blocks training”, which he transitions to “kata and kumite”, Hanshi Hawkins informs karate-ka to execute their striking blocks not merely to thwart the strike, instead attempt to break your opponent’s bone! Moto was a very unique martial artist who center of attention was devoted to that teaching concept to the max. Anytime an opponent executed a striking technique at Moto, he blocked with the intention of “breaking their bone”. Opponents feared striking kicks and punches at Moto for dreading of having their leg or arm broken. To this very day I’ve never seen any martial artist fight with such vigor with treacherous bone breaking blocking techniques. This Bushi mastered the art & science of executing vicious blocks with his elbows, shuto chops, and forearms. Many nights Bushi departed the Dojo with sore shins, ankles, and feet after sparring him. The late great Moto past away several years ago but his legend lives on.

9. Decisiveness - Someone once stated “It’s better to be boldly decisive and risk being wrong than to agonize at length and be right too late.” An Avenger Blackbelt doesn’t wait to be told what he/she already knows should be doing. They act instead of react! “He/she makes well thought out timely decisions”. The late great motivational instructor, Dale Carnegie stated, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”. An indecisive Blackbelt demonstrates insecure leadership qualities to his students which harms their confidence in his/her abilities. In-decision involves a fairy-tale dichotomy of “either too much sharpening of an axe and not having enough time to cut down any trees or not sharpening the axe enough and breaking the axe handle thereby cutting down no trees. An Avenger Blackbelt thinks thoroughly but expeditiously while weighing facts of a dilemma then takes action! In-decision can often fail desired outcome.

The late great inventor Thomas Edison stated, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward. Also, he stated that “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work".

The late great General George S. Patton once stated, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week”. Decisiveness involves timing, just as a fighter times a well counter-timed spinning back kick. The speed of the kick is not the only factor that makes the kick successful but rather the timing of the kick increases the possibility of success. An Avenger Blackbelt applies this concept in other circumstances such as planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling Dojo training, tournaments, seminars, and responding to senior & junior ranking member issues.


An unknown author once stated, “There are 3 types of people in the world, (1) Those who wait for things to happen, (2) Those who do nothing, and (3) those who make things happen”! An Avenger Blackbelt is a “make it happen person” who never ceases to figure out a way. He/she doesn’t wait for someone to tell them to train; instead he/she trains and further pursues training. An Avenger Blackbelt creates successful outcomes by means of getting involved. Waiting for natural or likely occurrences is an irresponsive and ineffective effort for the weak to dwell upon, while exercising initiative is for the successfully strong. Avenger Blackbelts have the guts to make a decision, stand by it if it’s correct, but if not; valiant enough to admit it’s incorrect. An Avenger Blackbelt truly understands the expression “I told you so” is most often used by gutless whimps, who foolishly consider themselves leaders, only say it when they are correct but when they are wrong, hardly ever or never admit it. These gutless, worthless, and incapable pretentious leaders are not akin to the type of leaders that Avenger Blackbelts are. Instead, they are “Wanna be’s” that lack the intestinal fortitude to be forthright and never will amount to even a smidgeon of the quality of leader of an Avenger. An Avenger Blackbelt fears not and takes on decisive responsibility and accepts responsibility for his/her decisions!

10. Dependability - Author, Neal A. Maxwell stated, “God does not begin by asking our ability, only our availability, and if we prove our dependability, he will increase our capability,” - An Avenger Blackbelt puts forth every effort to be reliable. To ignore this leadership attribute is to impair the organizations coordinated effort which can cause failure for its endeavors. The other leadership attribute “commitment” is a “close cousin” to dependability. Commitment breeds dependable leaders. This attribute, along with commitment, may be the most important because all other leader attributes rest on its shoulders.

Renshi Joe Miller always personifies this attribute. He stretches the limit reliability. Every Avenger Blackbelt clearly knows this. You can call him Mr. Dependable! His word is his bond and making it happen is his greatest virtue. Known for his powerful knockout reverse punch, Joe joined the Avengers about a month after I joined and ever since has never stopped his dedication to the Avengers Karate Club. He develops sincere responsibility in his karate-ka. His great heart and dependable attitude is infectious as demonstrated by him setting an example worth following by his students, such as Tony Jackson and Gerald Harkless. Today, they too are dedicated to the Avengers Karate Club’s mission.

Renshi Leroy Wright epitomizes the quality attribute – dependability. Leroy has a “put up or shut up personality”. Clear evidence of this is how he often extends and applies his loyalty. He consistently pursues responsibility and accepts accountability for his actions. Many times when I was in need of help he asked to assist. When there is need to build a Dojo, Leroy volunteers and follows through. He always seems to “have your back”. Our organization has truly benefited from his dependable attitude toward “getting things done”. The Bushi is “the best as they come!

11.
Understanding - Motivational Speaker and author of the best seller “7 Habits of Effective People” Stephen Covey stated, “seek first to understand then to be understood.” Again, as Big Sonny used to say, “Don’t talk me to death because I don’t want to die”. Talking is an external communicative process, while listening is an internal communicative process. One can only learn by internalizing communication, by listening and observing. Simply put, “the more one listens & observes, the more one understands”. Show me a good listener and I’ll show you a good learner. All great leaders put forth great effort to understand situations and also, insures when they give directives that the directive is clearly understood. Also, an Avenger Blackbelt exercising compassionate listening for karate-ka is an understanding person.

Avenger Blackbelts don’t try being “know it all’s”, instead they intuitively listen to the concerns & comments of everyone they encounter. Avenger Blackbelts, instead of opinionating what other people do, listen, identify with, and comprehend body voice & language. They attempt to get the true quintessence of what is voiced to them. The late great Maxine Grady was a very intelligent and understanding lady. This fiery fighting Bushi put fear in female kumite opponents throughout the northeast coast. When she wasn’t doing that, Maxine was intuitively listening to karate-ka concerns with an instinctive ear and analyzing their concerns with precise logic and ardor. This was truly a gift given to Maxine by her creator. Because of her exceptional listening skills, many karate-ka brought their concerns to her for her guidance. She was an extraordinary mentor who provided necessary guidance to scores of karate-ka. Unfortunately, she past away in the year 2007 but her commitment to assist and guide other karate-ka, especially females, to progress to the rank of Blackbelt is commendable and her legend lives on. Her talent, devotion, and passion are truly missed.

12. Endurance - Author, Henry Tuckerman stated, “There is strength of quiet endurance as significant of courage as the most daring feats of prowess.” An Avenger Blackbelt endures mental and physical stamina challenge with great zeal. An example truly worth mentioning is the Blackbelt examination conducted at Stone Mountain, Georgia, for Narite (candidates) David Ta and Omkar Jani. Their mental & physical stamina was challenged when the examination involved them running up the worldly acclaimed Stone Mountain, engage a series of calisthenics, kata, and free-sparring multiple opponents in the “blistering Georgia sun”! Quitting was not an option! They had to prevail and perform as true Bushi. They both fought two on one awesome Bushi Sempai C.J. and Sensei Michael Jackson. Both Sempai C. J. and Sensei Michael Jackson are superb martial artists that know only one way how to fight and that is hard. They both have outstanding endurance. The two attacked with no mercy. To fight two aggressive attacking Bushi as C.J. and Michael Jackson, after running up and down the worldly acclaimed Stone Mountain in 95 degree heat, is an incredible feat!

The late great author William Cullen Bryant recited a poem stating, “Nor heed the shaft too surely cast. The foul and hissing bolt of scorn; for with thy side dwell, at last. The victory of endurance born”. Bushi Warren “Chico” Thompson epitomizes the “victory of endurance” so prominently. This strongman would train 7 days a week and fight seemingly endless grueling rounds in the Druid Hill YMCA basement boxing ring. While the rest of Baltimore city were partying, popping & drinking beers, or picnicking, he was beating on “fresh sparring partners” by the dozen. His stamina seemed never-ending. Hard training was Chico’s favorite pastime. The more he trained the better he got. The mother of nightmares is sparring Chico and getting tired! He seemed to have the unique talent for draining the energy out of his opponents then pulverizing them into submission. Chico’s unrelenting effort to “search & destroy” his opponents, is reminiscent of the late great General George Patton storming through the famous “Battle of the Bulge”.

13. Passion - Author, Oscar Wilde stated, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” An Avenger Blackbelt accepts a challenge with relentless passion. His/her enthusiasm of training and being trained can often be described as fanatical which engenders karate-ka excitement. Passion has the unique ability of motivating monotony to the highest level of exhilaration. Every famous leader embraces passion. Without passion there is boredom. An Avenger Blackbelts’ passion nourishes a Karate-ka’s spirit.

An evident example of this attribute is Bushi Larry Thorne. Despite of having a life long physical impairment in his legs, cerebral palsy, this Bushi’s fervor for pursuing excellence is praiseworthy to say the least. For years this Bushi traveled afar by bus or by foot to gain knowledge of the art of Shorin-ryu. His gallant efforts have never gone unnoticed. For years he has fought with zeal while never displaying an indication of apathy. His tenaciousness for Shorin-ryu excellence is in keeping with the fine traditions the Avenger karate organization. Many karate-ka can benefit from this Bushi’s fine example of Shorin-ryu infatuation for learning through unremitting commitment.


14. Faith The late great Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Having faith in the creator of the universe, society, and self is a leadership virtue. I can not think of a better example of faith than Bushi Albert “Bert” Hawkins dealing with and battling his recent cancer condition. This Bushi has a great reputation of destroying the will of his opponents by way of his forceful fighting style. He’s assertive & tough! Conversely, his dedication for his creator is even more assertive. Through his faith in God, family, the Avengers, and self, he obliterated this disease. His faith & trust is an obvious reality to overcome tough challenges, for he is exceedingly successful in spirit, mind, and body. Bert’s faith is tough as his fighting. Not only is Bert a cancer survivor but also is a comrade survivor. His devotion to the Supreme Being, family, and organization, is evident from the scores of friends and family that know and treasure his presence and comradeship. He continues to actively communicate the “Avengers Experience” to members afar and enrich his martial arts edification in the martial arts.

15Flexibility - Author, Lord Chester once stated, “Prepare yourself for the world, as the athletes used to do for their exercise; oil your mind and your manner, to give them the necessary suppleness and flexibility; strength alone will not do.” Bushi’s Buddy & Mark “Boo” Pappas exemplify this attribute to the highest standard. These two brothers are the perfect example of yin & yang flexibility. To know them is to be in awe of their talent and success. Both epitomized the balance of yin & yang for mind and body.

These Bushi are tough as they come. In Baltimore, during the sixties, race riots were rampant and prevalent, especially in the Park Heights district. After the assassination deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, numerous inner city African American youths would violently attack innocent Caucasians, but not these two! During this period of racial tension, being Caucasian was not a safety concern for these two Bushi. They were respected and feared by many. Their fearlessness was even more evident when they often journeyed into nearby racial tensioned district neighborhoods, such as Pennsylvania Avenue, and others, befriending acquaintances abroad. There was no commonsensical deliberation of safety on their part; however, their Avenger comrades, “through thick & thin”, stood tall beside them ensuring for their wellbeing. Buddy & Boo’s “psychological suppleness”, while residing in an all African American neighborhood, and in dealing with African Americans during a race tensioned era, exemplified courage and zest for martial arts excellence, which was far more frequently absent then, as well as in today’s society. Their reputations justify them as social emissaries that international ambassadors can envy.

Their physical flexibility was never unnoticed. They both set a great example of being “loose as a goose”. Their leg stretches were spellbinding. This was because of their relentless endeavors to achieve maximum kicks. Both kicked fast & hard to devastate fighting opponents throughout the northeast coast. Buddy’s spinning back kick should have been outlawed, for to witness him strike tournament opponents was an unmerciful act of brilliance. Opponents, the night prior to tournament competition lost sleep for reason of trepidation of having to engage in competition with them the following day. They terrorized the tournament circuit as Attila the Hun once conquered the continents of Asia & Europe. They’re flexible kicks were truly ahead of their time.

These two Bushi characterize of the great tradition of the Avengers Karate Organization.

16. Entertaining - An author once said, Americans don’t spend billions for entertainment. They spend it in search of entertainment.” A leader who has a “down to earth sense of humor” is what most people will follow. Bushi Mousey Grady, brother of the late great Maxine Grady, is the best example that I’m aware of, when it comes to an Avenger Blackbelt motivating karate-ka, as well as peers, to diligently train while having fun. He has an uncanny way of getting the best out of karate-ka by instructing them in an entertaining but tough training approach. To convince karate-ka that “tough tormenting torturous training” is fun “baffles human logic”! This Bushi is known for smiling while afflicting karate-ka with pain when conducting exhausting calisthenics. Bushi Grady’s earsplitting kiai’s, coupled with his assertive hand and foot combinations astound martial artists from afar. His rigorous routine of training amuses only the tough because the weak detests this type of challenge and “can’t hang” with this “Roughshod Renshi”. He pushes and motivates karate-ka to their verge while being amused observing their progress.

Also, a side note worth mentioning about this Bushi; he is a Chef extraordinaire. His military tenure was over 20 years. He performed as a Chef for several Admirals. This talented chap prepares delectable cuisine that “will make your tongue slap your brains out!” He prepares exotic international culinary cuisine dishes such as Chateau Briand to regional gastronomical Cajon neck bones. I’m told that in Louisiana they use a different word for sushi. They call it bait (laugh). He often says, “Avoid fruit and nuts, because you are what you eat” (laugh).

This “Entertainer Trainer” stands out amongst the best karate instructors as a “one of a kind” training master who is thought highly of by all karate-ka attending his class.

17. Humility - The author Sir Walter Scott stated, “A sound head, an honest heart, and a humble spirit are the three best guides through time and to eternity.” Similarly, author Joseph Addison stated, “A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets of every great talent which a man can be possessed of.”

There was a famous 1960’s television show called “The Guns of Will Sonnet” that had a popular catch phrase, "No brag, just fact”. An Avenger Blackbelt impresses people with fact rather than cheap talk. The most modest Avenger I’ve ever witnessed is Hanshi Hawkins. His modesty is genuine despite of all of the accolades he has received. For all the great things this great Bushi has accomplished in martial arts, for over four decades, how he keeps a humble head is crystal-clear amazing to ones observation. All who know him are acutely aware of his humble ways. To be so humbly modest is truly a virtue of great proportion. His personal accomplishments as a martial artist and as a Sensei are of the highest level of martial arts excellence. One thing that’s probably the most predictable about Hanshi Hawkins is his adamant avoidance of accepting credit for his accomplishments. Instead, he always insists on giving the credit to Avenger members. It’s almost as if he views his successful accomplishments as a deadly disease while the cure for the disease is extending recognition to Avenger members. I even remember him giving credit to Avengers when he defeated the behemoth fighter, Malachi Lee. Now I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but Hanshi Hawkins was the only one in the ring with Malachi Lee. He didn’t have any Avengers physically in the ring with him that evening. I believe what he implies is that the Avenger spirit is what helps him be victorious but everyone knows that the credit is due to our Hanshi.

18. Integrity -
Author John Roberts said, “He’s a man of integrity and fairness and throughout his life he’s inspired the respect and loyalty of others.” The late great author and humorist Mark Twain stated that, “Honesty is the best of the lost arts.” Being “straight-up” of how you apply justice to all who you encounter. An Avenger Blackbelt is fair, honest, sincere, and forthright. His/her integrity is the apex type of character that a great martial artist strives for. Philip Crosby, a former businessman and author that contributed to management theory and TQM (total quality management), who recently died in 2001 stated, “Just being honest is not enough. The essential ingredient is executive integrity”. Executive integrity involves honesty but also being reliable, righteous, and veracious.

Author Stephen Vincent Bent stated, “Honesty is as rare as a man without self-pity”. An Avenger Blackbelt word is his/her bond. It is special, very special. Avenger Blackbelts open their hearts and souls to each other because this organization is a guild of Bushi that stick together extending conviction amongst its members and organization. Author Dennis McNally once said, “He was trustworthy, that’s why people followed him”. Avenger Blackbelts typify trustworthiness. Hundreds of times they have been relied on for their trustworthiness along with veracity of purpose.

Avenger Bushi Michael Stinson is a “just what the doctor ordered.” Mikes reputation for being sincere, fair, honest, and forthright comes from his fathers “fine upbringing”. The late great Mr. Stinson was always there for Mike and the Avengers. Many Avengers, including myself, considered his father as a second dad because he was always around when you needed him. They were the 1st father & son team to both earn Blackbelts in the Avengers karate organization.

Mr. Stinson had a reputation as an honest man. During the 1st Gulf War “Operation Dessert Storm” I worked with him in the “Directorate of Logistics” (DOL) at Fort Meade, Maryland. The Department of the Army commissioned Fort Meade as an east coast Mobilization Headquarters to provide transportation, supply, maintenance, and training support for Army units deploying to Kuwait. I observed many people, civilians & soldiers alike, praise Mr. Stinson as approachable, trustworthy, dependable, and honest. I was employed there for approximately 1½ to 2 years and not once did I hear anyone say anything negative about Mr. Stinson. His supervisor, employees, and peers only had positive things to say about him. No one at the DOL knew he was a Blackbelt. His modesty allowed his great fighting reputation to go undetected.


This father & son dual was reminiscent of a storybook father & son classic. They were very close and set the perfect example of what a father & son’s relationship could be. When the Avengers conducted events such as, promotion ceremonies, karate tournaments, demonstrations, etc., Mr. Stinson was charged with the responsibility to account for the money. His integrity was impeccable. Avengers truly miss this man of integrity.

19. Loyalty - Rensis Likert said, “The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that the group will achieve its goals.” Blackbelt Avengers are obligated to upholding the organizations, principles and mission, while always looking out for the welfare of its members. I can think of no Avenger more loyal than the late great Mr. Stinson. It was obvious that Hanshi Hawkins realized this, therefore entrusted him in areas of responsibility that he felt most comfortable.

The late and former President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson stated, “Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.” No one demonstrated self-sacrifice better than Mr. Stinson. His commitment to the Avengers was unparalleled.

Many evenings, when Avenger karate-ka missed the bus, he offered them rides home. On many occasions he drove Avenger karate-ka to tournaments, never once asking for a dime. He taught Avenger karate-ka from ages 5 to 60.

Other parents and karate-ka noticed and praised this Bushi’s commitment but didn’t give of themselves as did he. He always provided for the neighborhood community as if the entire neighborhood belonged to him. Arthur Elbert Hubbard once said, “One great, strong, unselfish soul in every community could actually redeem the world“. He must have known Mr. Stinson. Mr. Stinson’s loyalty, coupled with his dedication and trustworthiness, are in keeping of the cherished traditions of, Shorin-ryu, the Avenger Karate organization, and other great associated martial arts systems.


20. Maturity - Author Samuel Ullman stated, “Maturity is the ability to think, speak, and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how spiritual you become during the midst of your frustrations.” One of the most apparent things that has gone undetected for decades is Hanshi Hawkins reputed maturity. If one’s math is correct, he/she will find that Hanshi Hawkins was relatively young when he commenced the Avengers Karate Organization. Let’s see, Hanshi Hawkins was born in 1944 and I started karate in 1966; therefore that means that he was only 22 years old when I started training under his tutelage. For a man in his early twenties to oversee an organization consisting of more than three hundred karate-ka is truly unheard of. Even at that relative young age, his bearing always appeared to be a wise man of his 40’s. I’m not aware of anyone who knows him, with the exception of his family members and close friends, to ever believe that he was 21 years old when he started the Avenger Karate Club. It’s hard to imagine this reality of him being so young but yet so responsible for an organization of great proportion. During his entire tenure as a Sensei, from 1965 until present, he has possessed the maturity to very effectively positively help mold inner city youth into becoming successful people of society.

21. Self-discipline - Author Guru Gobind Singh said, “Peace and happiness shall fill your mind deep within, if you act according to truth and self-disciple.” An Avenger Blackbelt uses self-discipline by exercising self control while staying focused. Every time I hear this attribute Glen Hawkins comes to mind. His self-discipline was unmatched. This Bushi would always arrive to the Dojo early and personally workout prior to the class workout. His Gi would be drenched with perspiration prior to the class session. It didn’t make any difference what it was, Glen always exhibited raw self-discipline. Whether it be swimming, basketball, karate, etc., he worked out for hours performing at his best. His obedience for excellence is tantamount with the success of champions from any livelihood.

22. Tact - Abraham Lincoln said, “Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.” Notice, he didn’t say that tact meant do not yell at people, instead how others see themselves. People sometimes mistakenly believe that tact only implies to the act of being gentle and kind with words when communicating to a person. Author Jean Cocteau said, “Tact in audacity is knowing how far you can go without going too far”. Some interpret the word tact to imply weakness. Instead, tact is a “functional word of wisdom.” It’s sort of saying tough things while using discretion. Avenger Blackbelts focus on the behavior not the person. For example, Joe Smirdlap (fictional character) isn’t stupid for doing something wrong because he forgot how to; instead Smirdlap may need proper training to correct the wrongdoing. Maybe Smirdlap needs to be reminded how to correctively accomplish the task and have him many times repeat the task. If he isn’t paying attention, maybe have him do 50 push-ups. It’s very surprising how 50 push-ups can make a karate-ka have better memory. But don’t call Joe Smirdlap stupid. Never call an Avenger stupid. Smirdlap maybe kind of slow in picking up martial arts techniques but may be the best ever to change a light bulb. Everyone is good at something. Being “tactfully tough” doesn’t imply that one has to speak with a gentle voice. Instead, it implies that one communicate firmly but not insultingly.

23. Communicator*2- Prominent psychologist, who originated the idea of self-actualization, Abraham Maslow stated, “Behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.” Literary critic George Bernard Shaw once stated, “The single biggest problem of communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” An Avenger Blackbelt clearly conveys his/her thoughts to everyone. Show me an ineffective communicator than I show you an ineffective leader.

Senior Avenger Blackbelts insure that tasks are clearly understood, properly supervised, and soundly accomplished. Poor communications slows down the learning process. An Avenger Blackbelt ensures sender/receiver conversation is clearly understood. Does a karate-ka make a belt or earn a belt? Does a person on the job make or earn money? How well or explicit a leader conveys his/her thoughts are in direct proportion to expeditious learning of karate-ka.

Visual and verbal listening is an intuitive communicative approach that every Blackbelt should seek to master. Hanshi Hawkins intuitive listening skills are superb. If a dime or a penny dropped from a table to the floor he would be able to distinguish the coin! His abracadabra like listening and visual skills are truly amazing.

Good visual communication can be setting an outstanding example for karate-ka to envy or emulate. Verbal communications is a process that’s either vertical or horizontal. The vertical process is from junior to senior (or vice versa) while the horizontal process is peer communications. Avenger Blackbelts strive to be adept at all kinds of communications, whether it’s out front of a formation of karate-ka in a Dojo or small group or one on one conversation. Being able to communicate with karate-ka, to include their parents, senior Bushi, prospective karate-ka, etc., is an essential quality that Blackbelt must master.
An Avenger Blackbelt consistently keeps his/her karate-ka, peers, and senior Bushi well informed concerning appropriate “need to know information”, while information lacking “need to know” is kept confidential.

An important area in communication for all Avenger Blackbelts is mentoring. This word mentor derives from Greek mythology. (1) A man name Mentor was the son of Alcumus and, in his old age, a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and of his residence. When Athena visited Telemachus she took the disguise of Mentor to hide herself from the suitors of Telemachus’ mother Peneope. When Odysseus returns to Ithaca, Athena (in the form of Mentor) takes the form of a swallow and the suitors’ arrows have no effect on him. There you have it Mentor was a lady.

The first recorded modern usage of the term can be traced to a book entitled "Les Aventures de Telemaque", by the French writer Francois Fenelon. In the book the lead character is that of Mentor. This book was published in 1699 and was very popular during the 18th century and the modern application of the term can be traced to this publication.

Many organizations today have mentoring programs which define the word as a trusted friend, counselor or instructor, usually a more experienced person. They normally take on newcomers to advice by way or experience and setting good example to follow. Also, they provide advice to new & old timers that run into problems that are difficult to correct. In addition they assist in updating students with the latest information or knowledge concerning organizational or personal concerns. Today’s mentors provide expertise to less experienced individuals in order to help them advance their careers, education, and networks. Many of the world's most successful people have benefited from having a mentor including:

• business people – Freddie Laker mentored Richard Branson
• politicians - Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great
• actors – Mel Gibson mentored Heath Ledger
• athletes – Eddy Merckx (five-time Tour de France winner) mentored Lance Armstrong (seven-time Tour de France winner).

I know of no person on earth to better describe as a master communicating mentor than Hanshi Hawkins. It’s very obvious to any Avenger how he has sacrificed his time and money to lookout for the well being of Avengers. He treats Avengers as if they are of his blood family. For me, he has traveled to Karlshrue, Germany (yup, he even traveled by jet) and Atlanta, Georgia to mentor my karate-ka and I concerning martial arts. Hanshi Hawkins martial arts wisdom is much sought for. His kind heart has affected thousands of martial artists internationally. He has been offered high paying jobs to instruct karate in California but turned them down because of not wanting to abandon his karate-ka in Baltimore. Countless times this Bushi has visited public schools to check on the academic progress of his karate-ka and has at times suspended them from martial arts instruction until they improved their grades to an acceptable level. I’ve personally witnessed him address these situations when the parents of karate-ka failed to.


I’m convinced that the Supreme-being planned Hanshi Hawkins life’s destiny to make people better. He demonstrates love for his karate-ka whether their own parents do or not. I’m convinced that his compulsion to make people better will remain with him for the rest of his life. Just as he did so many times as a fighter, his stubbornness to achieve excellence will always be unrelenting. His obsession of getting people to do their very best has been witnessed and emulated from all who know him.


24. Tenacity - Baltimore boxing trainer Bobby Harman stated, “Quitting is not an option! Quitters never win and winners never quit!” Keep trying and never quit! Don’t stop! Don’t stop! An Avenger Blackbelt has “sticktoitness” of the highest caliber.

Bushi Michael “Master White Belt” Harrison was as tenacious as they come. He has a reputation that’s spread around the world. “Master of the Whitebelt” was his fame. He had carte blanche status amongst Whitebelts both in the Dojo and karate tournament circuit. How he achieved this reputation is a lesson for any karate-ka to learn from. Michael earned the name Master Whitebelt by retaining his Whitebelt rank for many years. Hanshi Hawkins has never forced anyone to take a rank promotion exam, but it is extremely rare when a karate-ka turns down promotion. After all, most people would say that if they earned promotion then they’ll accept the rank.

Rank promotion is “an indicator” of progression, therefore its normal rationale for a karate-ka to accept the challenge and reward of promotion. “Master Whitebelt” wasn’t afraid of the challenge; however, the concept of reward is worth analysis. Reward had a different connotation to Master Whitebelt. Accepting a promotion entails one advancing to higher rank echelon but only to be positioned on the bottom level of that newest echelon. To Master Whitebelt being the most experienced & talented Whitebelt meant he would dominate & retain the nonconforming throne of Whitebelt. This was a significant mindset. The ratio of Whitebelts, compared to other rank belts, in the Avengers is always high. An illustration of this way of thinking is if every belt category had a “Master”, he convincingly dominated over other belt categories. For example, in 1967/8 the most experienced Avenger Blackbelt, Hanshi Hawkins had only one or two Blackbelts junior to him. In addition, there were only two or three Purplebelts, and five to six Brownbelts whereas Master Whitebelt was amongst 50+ junior Whitebelts. As a result, Master Whitebelt, beyond a doubt, dominated the Whitebelt division, which was by far the largest, because of his tenure and very diligent training. He dictated the Whitebelt division whereas when opponents spotted him arriving for competition, they quickly changed their minds about wanting to compete in kumite, instead, they would resort to only kata competition. On the other hand, he losing in the Whitebelt division was a phenomenon unheard of. As a Whitebelt he always resulted in victory. He would say that a belt is nothing compared to the journey of success. While in the Dojo he rarely ever sparred with Whitebelts, instead he normally fought senior belts such as green, brown & black. Eventually he was promoted to Greenbelt and was very successful in that division and finally earned the Blackbelt. Incredibly, his advancement to Blackbelt took no longer than the traditional time of five to 6 years of diligent Dojo training. His decision to remain as a Whitebelt so long afforded him the opportunity to amass more karate trophies than his peers. His legend continues to be a paradigm for Whitebelt karate-ka to analyze.


25. Inspiring - Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte stated, “Those who have changed the universe have never done it by changing officials, but always by inspiring the people”. An Avenger Blackbelt inspires karate-ka to perform well by motivating them to achieve. Every good leader inspires their people by influencing them to accomplish tasks while looking out for their wellbeing. Good leaders motivate their people to maximize their efforts.

A sterling example of an inspiring Avenger Blackbelt is Dana Andrews. Most noteworthy was how she took many other new female martial artists under her tutelage. She mentored several female Avengers who eventually earned Blackbelt. Under her auspices she motivated exceptional female martial artists such as Maxine Grady, Sheila Dixon, Brenda Ervin, and others to become dynamic leaders in our organization. Bushi Dana was very detailed in her approach in teaching, and motivating karate-ka. Her firmness and patience stood out as brilliant. She appeared to always be in control.

Also, Dana inspired karate-ka to compete with all of their heart & spirit. Quite simply, “She practiced what she preached”. They followed her “lead by example” teaching approach to excel in karate exams & tournaments throughout the northeast coast.


26. Gratis Alibi - An author once stated, “Excuses are tools of the incompetent that builds monuments of nothingness, and those who use them seldom ever amount to anything.” Gratis Alibi is an epithet implying “absent or free of excuses”. An Avenger Blackbelt has a “Make it Happen” attitude. This attribute is a “cousin to trustworthiness, dependability, commitment, and responsibility”. The difference is its cousins don’t have the highest level of “making every effort for attainment”. A pretended example of this is “a karate instructor was depended to arrive to the Dojo on time to train karate-ka but is late because he/she got caught up in traffic. He/she exhibited “dependable, trustworthy, committed, and responsible attributes” by leaving to arrive on time based on normal traffic patterns. However, he/she arrived late because there was an automobile accident. A karate instructor relying his/her management time based on “normal traffic patterns” will get just that – normal results. Unfortunately, normal traffic accidents occurs everyday; therefore it is reasonable to assume that in due course a karate insructor is confronted with an accident causing he/she to arrive to class late. An Avenger Blackbelt treats similar situations such as this using a “Gratis Alibi” mind-set to “make things happen!” What if there were one million dollars waiting for a Sensei at a Dojo for every practice to receive at arrival time? If this was the case, virtually all Sensei would arrive not only on time but earlier than expected. Leaders that espouse gratis alibi “make things happen” despite of unforeseen situations. They come across as “miraculous marvels” regardless of what the challenge is. They endeavor struggles of circumstantial defiance and are usually successful at creating ways of accomplishing undertakings. An Avenger Blackbelt never obliges his/her self to the feeble use of excuses. An excuse is an unjustifiable reason. The late great inventor and educator, George Washington Carver, stated that ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.

Hanshi Hawkins is a perfect example of this leadership attribute. To plainly describe his actions as a leader when it comes to excuses is imprudent dialogue. He has a reputation for showing up on time and stops at nothing when it comes to “getting the job done”. His rehearsals for karate demonstrations are “murderous”. Repetition could be his middle name. Hanshi Hawkins has an enduring approach toward 1st rate perfection. His vocabulary defines second rate as an excuse. Hanshi Hawkins attitude toward perfection is unsurpassed.

Despite the odds this Bushi stops at nothing when it comes to teaching karate. For over 40 years his pursuit for martial arts excellence has been respected and admired by all who witness.

27. Team builder - Author Joe Rodriquez, “It was a good experience and new experience. It allowed the kids to grow and bond as a team. It was a great team builder to just get away. We are thankful for the support of the principal and athletic director. It’s their support that let us get to where we are.”

Al Parsons is a master team builder. I know of no one, other than Hanshi Hawkins, who taught more qualified karate-ka who advanced to Blackbelt. He has instructed the art of Shorin-Ryu to so many karate-ka at numerous schools, such as Garrison Middle, Harlem Park, and others. You name them, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, Brenda Ervin, Bushi’s Warren “Chico” Thompson, Willie “Wink” Saffore, Leroy Wright, Jonathan (Johnny) Mason, and others. This Bushi is a team builder! Al Parsons is an energetic Bushi who works hard to produce tough karate-ka. He successfully accomplished this by setting a great example in the Dojo, at competitions, and in private life. For decades his students still care for one another and uphold the fine customs of the Avengers.

Hanshi Hawkins built the Avengers Karate Club starting in his basement, instructing his brothers and sister, then growing to multiple locations throughout the state of Maryland. He has been very successful at getting karate-ka to care for one another despite of karate-ka sparring each other as if they are enemy combatants. How he got friends to unmercifully batter each other in kumite is beyond belief. Avengers fought each other aggressively and viciously, but after the match they “high fived” as to congratulate each other. Consequently, when Avengers fought students from other schools it was often misunderstood as if Avengers had personal grudges. Instead of having grudges, Avengers were taught to only fight aggressive whereas various other schools sparring customs were not as brutal. For over 40 years the Avengers have stood together as a team, resulting in distinguished camaraderie and espirit de corps of the highest level. Avenger Blackbelts are challenged to continue Hanshi Hawkins team building.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Dixon
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentor