La Violeta Dojo : Beginnings of the Kimo Years

On this corner on the top floor was where Kimo had his dojo in the 1980´s, on the other side of the first two balconies. The name of the first-floor restaurant changed from La Violeta back to its original name, La Danza. It is now a tourist trap restaurant spilling onto a side street cul-de-sac. No sign of the past dojo evinces its past use. Like the Ochoa Dojo, La Violeta Dojo lives on in memory only. And maybe not even there. Yet a lot of the black belts who run things now in the present permutation of my Goju style got their goju-ryu shodan here, including my last sensei, Jaime Acosta. It was the second generation karatecas with whom partook in much the same manner as in Ochoa, from the outside looking in.

After hearing me shout my onegaishimasu out of reflex, Kimo approached me where I was standing at the back of the dojo floor. Asked me if I had taken Goju before and I gave the karate equivalent of my name, rank, and serial number. He made me do all the katas I knew, correcting my stance here and there, and asking if it was at all possible that I could get a new gi. Told me to follow the lines in front, just like a newly born white belt. I took the hint, thanking all heavenly bodies for my decision to forego the green belt.

This was the first time, though not the last, where I would be asked to shed my rank and start anew. Through the following weeks I realized that the syllabus was basically the same. The difference was that Kimo ran this dojo hands on, sempai notwithstanding. No yelling or posturing was necessary; you knew he was the sensei, your sensei, from the get go. Very few from Ochoa were around, yet I did see a some old green belts from the University branch as top rank brown belts, and some old brown belts had their black points, and one black belt, a black girl, who I knew but had never practiced before, Doris Pizarro. But generally, Kimo ran the class, from the floor. He sweated right along with the rabble.

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