Back in 2007, my wife and I had good paying jobs in the United States; but we also had to deal with a great deal of stress. Inside, I felt unsatisfied in my work and this caused me to feel a bit depressed at times. It was nothing major, just a feeling that my life was on the wrong track. I had known for a long time what I wanted to do for a living (teach karate) but I had never found the right opportunity to make my dream come true.
Following the birth of our son, we knew it was a good time for a change. We wanted him to grow up in a safer environment with a stronger education system, and we also wanted to be able to spend more time with him during his formative years. I also wanted to take a chance on living my dream (to teach karate in Japan) and my wife was excited to help me as she had always wanted to run her own business. After my wife applied for a job in Japan working with American college students, we decided to wait and hope for the best.
After landing a new job at an international study abroad center in her home town, my wife and I quickly wrapped up our affairs in the USA and packed up all of our essentials. We made the big move and soon settled into an apartment on the first floor of the center. Disappointingly, the job required her to be on-call every single night of the year (just like my job in the USA--- insane I know) so her time with me and the newborn baby was minimal.
As she spent her hours in the office, I was either taking care of the little one or practicing karate outside in the Japanese garden that overlooked the lake. Practicing every day outside in the fresh air was wonderful, and my time with my son was priceless. I was also able to pull on my past experiences working in higher education administration and assist my wife with some of her more difficult and stressful situations.
Each morning I awoke, I imagined myself as a full-time martial arts instructor. I envisioned myself in my uniform, teaching a classroom full of Japanese students in the ways of karate-do. But one important thought kept invading my thoughts…I would have to teach things differently in Japan. I could not do things exactly the way I had done them in the USA. I would need to adapt and change. I would need to evolve and grow, both as a teacher and as a martial artist.
The first thing I decided to do was to teach all of my classes in English! No more using Korean like I had in the United States. And I would not replace the terms with Japanese. I would teach in English. I would teach an international martial arts system (combining karate-do, chuanfa, taekwondo, and hapkido/aikido) in an international language!!