The road trip began today, from Miami, Fl. and ended in Madera, CA where we visited with Hanshi Vincent Cruz.  Hanshi Cruz has been "under the weather", but is working with doctors to overcome the crisis, and "get back on his feet".

       I was invited to the ISKA World Headquarters to become a Member of the Board for advancement at Sensei Jeff Salmari's Dojo in Merced, CA, where Mr. Mike Salmeri demonstrated his expertise in his art, and was advanced to Black Belt. We met, and were off to Fresno, Ca.


      Today arrivals for the weekend camp (from New York to Puerto Rico) met at Hanshi Cruz's home, then continued on to Sierra Camp at Fish Camp, CA. In this check-in day, we were all given a schedule of events for the weekend. Events ran smoothly, with detail placed upon practicing the basics (concentration on center-body and connection with every movement). We also learned Kata's and did training on the Bo. At the camp's ending, (Below Right: Hanshi Mohammad Ali Sharifi from the Shotokan Karate Institute taught basics of Qi-Gong and Kyoshi Zambrano from Venezuela).



       We arrived at San Francisco Airport. Kyoshi Zambrano joined us on the flight to Miami, as he had family in Miami, and wanted to see them before continuing on to Venezuela. At the same time, Shihan Joe Rodriguez flew out of Aguadilla, P.R. He met Frank and they continued to Homestead, Florida for an overnight stay.

(Kyoshi Ramon Zambrano From Venezuela)


      After overnight in Homestead, Fl, we began the 2400 mile trip to Fort Kent, Maine. We made it to Virginia that night. We left in the wee hours, traveling all day.


      We arrived in Fort Kent, driving straight to Sensei Joe Dumond's home. He provided us with an outstanding accommodation, in the form of a trailer outside of his home. It came with all the comforts of home, plus fruit, water, and privacy! After settling, we visited Dumond's Dojo, as well as the historic Mile 1 (of US-1, which ends in Key West, Fl.)  Across from Mile 1, we could see Canada.


Sanchin Bushi, Fort Kent, ME

     After working out for the next few days, and participating in advancement ceremonies, conducted by Shihan Rodriguez, we left with wonderful memories.  We made a brief stop in Perth Amboy, NJ to talk (land line) with Wilfredo Valentine.  We then proceeded on to Baltimore, where we visited with Grand Master (Si-Gong) George Jackson (Kajukembo), one of Sensei’ Ramirez's first martial arts instructors. We all had "a blast from the past" catching up on over 40 years of memories.  We promised to all to meet again at Martial Arts activities in the future.


(L-R:  Shihan Rodriguez, Grand Master George Jackson Hanshi Ramirez)


      Having arrived in Hilton Head, NC the previous evening, we met with Sensei Troy Ahyo, who caught us up on the happenings since the May 2012 seminar in Puerto Rico.  Saying good-bye, we set our sights on Kings Bay, GA, where we checked into the Naval Base berthing.  Luckily one "perk" there was a sauna, a 12'x8' area. Ah! That sauna hit the spot after we worked out on Kusanku-Sho!


     The next morning, we met with Sensei Pablo Castro. Since he hadn't seen Shihan Rodriguez in 26 years, we had a lot of "catching up" to do. Departing Georgia, we drove to Jacksonville, Fl where we found Grant Gamble, former trainee of Mr. Valentine and Sensei Ramirez back in the 70's. We had an outstanding visit, catching up on our grand children! We left Grant's home, and drove to Coconut Creek to train with Sensei Joey Gonzalez. Joey surprised us with a 2" thick T-bone steak that was the perfect ending to a day of driving and working out! Also, while there, Sensei Gonzalez was promoted from Shodan-Ho to Shodan.

(L-R:  Grant Gamble, Joe Rodriguez)

(R-L)  Coconut Creet, FL - Sensei J. Gonzalez, Shihan J. Rodriguez


      After leaving Joey's Dungeon Dojo in Coconut Creek, Fl. we headed toward Homestead, Fl. and Hanshi Ramirez's home. There, we contacted at neighbor, Able Fernandez, who had been unable to make the trip with us, and unable, therefore to test for his Brown Belt. Shihan Rodriguez administered the test, and Able passed with congratulations.

(Shihan Joe Rodriguez & Mr. Abel Fernandez)

(Shihan Joe Rodriguez & Sensei Alexis Agostini)

(L-R:  Shihan Rodriguez, Hanshi Colon, Shihan Rodriguez, Sensei Parris)


The day ended with Shihan Rodriguez's departure from the airport back to home base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

  To all of you who read this, the trip, workouts, and connections made will always be special memories for us.  Enjoy the commentary, and the pictures!