One of our Sensei at the dojo, Gary Gabelhouse, is an accomplished writer, and he has written several successful novels. He is the head instructor of our Daitoryu Aikijujitsu program, and he is also an advanced dan in Goju-Ryu Karate, but since I have never really trained with him, I don’t see him as my instructor, but rather as my friend, and what an amazing friend he is!
Gary has lived a life that most of us can only dream of. He started out as a poor kid living in the hood I now call home, and he ended up traveling the globe on epic adventures. He’s climbed the highest mountains, and been befriended by people like Sir Edmond Hillary. He’s had the opportunity to get to know authors such as Isaac Asimov. He’s studied many different cultures and religions, and he’s even had private conversations with the Dalai Lama. One of the best things about Gary’s books is that some of it is taken directly from his real life. He’s experienced things that most people cannot begin to fathom. He even died once, and lived to tell about it!
Another great thing about Gary is that he truly embodies the philosophy “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Gary has been in many confrontations that could have ended in violence, but he was able to diffuse the situation with words instead. Sometimes it was by showing compassion, other times by making a joke. A particularly memorable story involves Gary spouting nonsense phrases until the potential troublemaker was so confused that he just wanted to leave.
Gary is a real “tell it like it is” kind of guy, which I appreciate. He is an excellent storyteller, with all kinds of stories to tell. Some of them are touching and profound, some are violent or dirty, but they are always entertaining, and often funny. One of my favorites is the story about the time Ido Pariente competed in the Cornhusker State Games Karate Kumite, and got hit over the head with a chair, which led to an all-out brawl. What I wouldn’t give to have been there to see some of my Karate teachers in the middle of that dogpile!
I’m lucky I’ve been able to get to know such an interesting and inspiring man. Another perk of martial arts training is that you get to meet people who you probably never would have met otherwise. I am grateful to share this journey with so many outstanding people like Gary. He recently paid me the highest of compliments by writing me in as a minor character in one of his upcoming novels, and I am truly touched and honored. To be so respected by someone I so respect is almost overwhelming. Budo has given me much more than I ever anticipated, and the friendships I’ve formed fill my heart and life with joy. One thing I learned from 9/11 is that tomorrow is not guaranteed, so every day we must show appreciation toward the people who make a difference in our lives.