Joe Earns Shodan


Saturday’s events at Checkmate were exciting to put it lightly. We began with our normal adult Jujitsu class at 0730 and got in a lot of reps.  Around 0830 everyone began to arrive for the days main event, Joe’s test for black. It was great to have Joe Sullivan, Sensei Leigh’s long time friend, training partner, and extended Checkmate family member on the mat. In the audience were a few Checkmate members and it was great to have them present as well. Last but not least, Sensei Bill Chestnut joined us on the mat to provide his many years of experience.

I would like to first recognize the sacrifices of the students that gave up several hours of their day for Checkmate and Joe. Your commitment to the dojo and your fellow training partners is beyond words. With that said, I must thank the family members of the students that support their loved ones and allow them to train. Without the support of the family members, the support of the students would break down. I thank you not only for the support on Saturday but for the continued support throughout the years. This support allows us to support each other and help each other learn live saving skills that will hopefully never be tested but are ready to protect you if ever needed.

In typical fashion, Sensei Leigh began the test by putting Joe right into the fire. Well, more like he pushed Joe into an active volcano. Sensei Leigh wanted to begin the test by using drills specific to testing Joe’s weaker areas. In the first 15 minutes of the test Joe was physically and mentally pushed to his breaking point. It was clear to everyone and no one more than Joe that he was in for war to earn his black belt. Joe demonstrated a true warrior spirit and battled for the next 3 hours with little time for recovery. Joe gave it his all and did not let his warrior spirit break.

Joe, you demonstrated great Jujitsu. You should be proud of the performance you gave on Saturday. You are an example for anyone to follow in the dojo and certainly made Sensei very proud. Success in a dojo is won or lost with your training partners. The success I enjoy is in a large part do to you and your years of commitment. I appreciate your kind words but truly believe it is a partnership to grow and advance in the dojo. I feel honored to have contributed to your success. Yet, as I have stated before; to walk the same path with you is far more valuable and rewarding.

Lastly, I must thank my wife for the years of love and support. I enjoy many successes in both my personal and professional endeavors do to her support, encouragement, and more importantly sacrifices. I must continuously keep myself in check regarding the sacrifices she makes. To all my fellow dojo mates, please take a moment to thank your loved ones and thank them from us (Sensei Leigh and I).


Senpai Steve.

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