The decision to leave my place of training after 16 years was a hard one. I felt like I was betraying my teacher in some ways. But I had to learn more, to progress and try new things. The first few months before we opened were difficult. The school was officially founded on March 1st 2000 but did not take any students or begin operations until July 1st.
There was much to do. Registrations, bank accounts, suppliers. Plus we needed a place to operate. After some work I managed to get Belle River High School to give me a room 2 times per week. I had talked to a new gym that opened in the town called BeachWalk Family Fitness. But they were not interested because they were planning on starting a karate program on July 1st and had an instructor in place. We were looking at opening after Labour Day because the school was not available during the summer. I did not like this at all!
But as luck or fate would have it I got a call mid June from Rene at the gym, their instructor had backed out and would I consider taking the job. Curt and I sat down with the owners of the gym and negotiated a deal for us to operate there, and we would pay them for the room. But the students we ours. Oddly and unexpectedly they accepted our terms. Rene quoted that they did not really want to manage this kind of a program anyway, but they did want the service, and hopefully the parents working out during class time.
It was a win/win situation. We started classes on Canada Day, with about 15 kids in the first class, and my 8 adults from Tecumseh. The Peaceful Warriors’ were off to a BIG start.
By the end of the summer we had about 40 kids in the program and had expanded to 3 hours per night, Tuesday and Thursday, plus 2 hours on Saturday morning.
I did not dream we would get so big so fast. But we did. In the picture above 13 of these kids made Black Belt. This is not counting any absent from the picture. 2 of these kids made adult Master level and are still training today in some form or another.