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Mr. Miyagi and Me

"If you come to my dojo you will never be promoted to any rank. You will always remain a white belt. But, I expect that you will be like all other Americans that came to my class and quit. But, if you want to learn and learn the right way, come back and I will teach you." Mr. Takeshi Miyagi directed those words to me on a rainy November night in 1963. The following night, fellow Marine Len Neidert and I returned and were immediately served our first of many doses of humble pie. The first lesson in humility was served when Miyagi handed me a broom. Our "classroom floor" was the hardened dirt outside of the back door to Mr. Miyagi's house. I quickly learned that each night before class, Len and I would have to sweep the tiny pebbles off of the dirt surface. Lesson number two in humility required us to lower a bucket into the well and fill a metal pot with drinking water for the students. We responded to his orders with a very crisp, "Yes, sir" and began our chores. When the Okinawan students began arriving for class, they glared at us and ignored our greeting. We soon discovered that we were not welcome and I am certain they already knew we would be like the other Americans before us. We would quit and once more embarrass their sensei, Mr. Miyagi. Over the next several months we struggled, in a place where we were not welcomed with open arms, to win the trust and confidence of Mr Miyagi and his students. We saw a long, difficult journey ahead of us, and the road was paved with aches and pains, and countless bumps and bruises.
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About the Author

James H. Lilley, retired from the Howard County, Maryland Police Department, following a distinguished 25 year career. Among his many honors, he is the recipient of the Police Department's Medal of Valor, four Bronze Stars and four Unit Citations. in 2008, he was named the National Author of the Year by His work "Fatal Destiny, The Carjacking Murder of Dr. Pam Basu" was chosen as the 2013 Police-Writer's.Com Book of the Year. A former member of the United States Marine Corps, he received national and international recognition in August 2011 when Sensei Takeshi Miyagi promoted him to the rank of 9th Degree Black Belt. Mr. Lilley taught defensive tactics in the police academy for newly hired recruits and in-service training sessions for experienced officers. He wrote and implemented a Handgun Retention training program for law enforcement officers, which was published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in their Training Key Series. The program was later produced in a video and dvd format in English and Spanish. He has taught karate and self-defense classes for over 50 years, and presented Personal Safety seminars for business organizations, schools, churches and community groups. In addition, Mr. Lilley is a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, in the Police Executive Leadership and Intelligence Analysis Programs.

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