Its hard to believe that just a few minutes before this picture was taken that this same group of people were donned in sparring gear and exchanging punches. And a few minutes before that were throwing each other on the floor, sprinting through the park and passing out in the grass. And not long before that they were going on with their daily lives, blending in amongst society as if they didn’t have anything particularly interesting to do that evening, like a belt test.

This picture was taken on Friday, August 22, my birthday.

People always want to know what you want for your birthday. A shirt? A pair of shoes? A nice dinner? That’s all great and nice, but that is not why or how I live my life.

I tend to get excited about things and write lengthy pieces that most of you don’t bother with so I’ll leave it at this:

This gets me high. This is why I sacrificed everything I have to open Urban Kempo. This is what I dreamed of cultivating—a diverse group of people coming together to sweat, push themselves to new limits and to laugh together, all under the guise of that martial art that we call Kempo, the very martial art that saved my life and continues to give it meaning.

I see an incredible amount of chemistry in this picture and that is a special thing. Where else can you go and be yourself, sweat with people, punch them respectfully, and have such a good time? I don’t know but if you find another place on earth like this please holler–I’m in.

To capture our chemistry in a photo, and to give me the opportunity to sit back and look at a still picture of it…is the best birthday present ever. It is indeed precious.

Lastly I want to emphasize that I believe in my soul that laughter is so important in life, and that I think it is the key element that brings us together as a community. People who genuinely laugh together come together just as do people who genuinely cry together. It is the basis of our community.

Thank you all for being who you are and for coming to see me every week and for an AMAZING test!

Very thankfully yours,