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Seventh Kyū

The first time you step foot in a dōjō is a humbling experience. You struggle to get your shoes off while keeping an eye on the students going through their paces. They flow like water. They’re hard as glacial ice. Their moves are as smooth as melted butter, then so fast you can’t follow them.

There are no seats, so you just stand there gawking until some guy whose head is about the same height as your shoulders comes over. He welcomes you with a formal bow, then takes you over to a corner to talk. But all the time you’re watching those senior students working out.

You want to do that.

 My First Kata

That’s pretty much how I came into the writing world. I saw the senior students working and wanted to do the same things they could. I started writing my first book. My first kata.

I self-published it almost a year ago, and started listening to what people had to say about it. Almost all of the feedback I got was from fellow students. Some of them are kohai. Others are true sempai that can make their gi pop.

After listening to all of the feed back, I decided to do yet another revision. I did some clarification and added another chapter to give the story line some closure. I worked ASSidulously until about a week ago, when I decided I’d done all I could do.

I was vibrating from the gallons of coffee I’d ingested. The ashtrays were full. There were holes worn in the bottoms of my slippers from walking in circles. Still, I wasn’t confident of the work as a whole. I needed a trained sempai to look it over and tell me where I was screwing up.

I contacted Rebecca Dickson and asked her if she would work with me. Thankfully, she agreed, and I sent her a copy. She begins work on Friday.


Until this testing is complete, The Valley Walker will be taken off the shelves.

All of you who have read it and given me feedback have my deepest thanks. There is truly no way to repay you for your time and effort, so I won’t even try.

Anyone who is just starting to read it can stop now and wait for the revision… or continue… or send me hate mail. It is my own bumbling that created this, and I guess I’ll have to live with the consequences.

Please accept my deepest apologies for my ineptitude. I’m on my knees. My forehead is touching the tatami. I would perform yubitsume, but I need all of my fingers to type.