A quick note to express my regret at not being at your celebration of Sensei’s Johnston’s remarkable life. Short notice and a busy schedule (and yesterday was my birthday) just didn’t make it easy to fly out and be with you today. Jeff also sends his regrets and hopes everyone has a nice celebration.
Some of you may know that Sensei Johnston was my first karate instructor. It seems like fate brought us together — him from England, and me from a little town in western Colorado, when I was 15 years old. I have known him for 40 years. Over that time he remained my teacher in karate and in other areas of interest, such as music and art and literature, and he also became my friend. I’ve known him longer than just about any friend I still have in my life. I will miss our conversations — even the ones when our worldviews clashed. I will miss climbing with him. I will miss lunch in Laguna Beach. I will miss him as a teacher. I will miss him as a friend.
I would like to thank everyone at the San Juan dojo for welcoming me to your camps over the last 13+ years. I have looked forward to those camps more than anything else during the year. A special thank you to Robert Anderson-Shoepe who made it possible for me to come out to California, and for your enduring care for Sensei. And deep thanks go out to Hessam and to Rephael & Deb for all you’ve done for Sensei over the years and especially during his last few months. And I thank all the students at the San Juan dojo. You’ve been a devoted family for Sensei, and he loved you — I know this, because he told me so. A karate instructor comes to know his students perhaps more personally than teachers in other arts. Karate students also become very close to their instructor. And in many cases an instructor’s students become like family to him, and that closeness becomes a deep caring for each person that extends far beyond one’s proficiency in karate and the training in the dojo. Just know that Sensei cared as much for you as you do for him.
So, I wish you all a grand time today as you remember Sensei David Johnston. I do wish I could be there with you. I’m sure that Sensei’s one hope for all of you would be those familiar words of encouragement in karate circles: Keep Training! You have a wonderful instructor to carry on Sensei’s legacy in San Juan. I propose a toast in thanksgiving to God for placing David Johnston in our lives. May God bless him, and may God bless you all. I hope to see you again soon.