CHRISTOPHER GEARY REVERIE LISTEN TO MUSIC GEARYLAND POETRY PHOTOGRAPHY
 Visitors’ Guide


Visitors’ Guide
to the
Corporate Headquarters of
Christopher N. Geary’s Shaolin Kempo Karate

Second Edition

Written by the Founder/President,
Professor Christopher N. Geary

 

Introduction

“Beauty is a harmonious relation between something in our nature and the quality of the object which delights us.”
~Pascal

The first edition of this Visitors’ Guide was prepared in 2004 to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of Christopher N. Geary’s Shaolin Kempo Karate. A number of changes have taken place since that time, and therefore this second edition has been produced to coincide with my twelve-year anniversary of teaching. Within these pages you will find a self-guided tour of the artwork and other unique objects displayed in my Corporate Headquarters School at 17923 Pierce Plaza in Omaha, Nebraska.

Michael and Ryan Head at Château de Versailles, August 17, 2006Before getting more specific, I’d like to say a few words about the general atmosphere I have created in my school and the reasoning behind it. My passion for excellence, intensity of focus, and meticulous attention to detail are well known to each of my Instructors and students. These same qualities permeate the physical surroundings of my Corporate Headquarters. The lavish interior design draws its inspiration from the magnificent Château de Versailles, the palace of Louis XIV. Known as France’s Sun King, Louis XIV had the longest reign in European history (1643–1715). If you have seen pictures or videotapes of the castle’s interior, you will notice many echoes of its style within my school, including the use of gilding, wall coverings of a deep red hue, and the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses depicted in most of the paintings and sculptures. I sometimes tell people that I’ve done everything possible to recreate the atmosphere of Louis XIV’s castle except for starving millions of people to accomplish my plans (as the French monarchy did).

One of the first aspects of my school that most people notice is the gold that gleams from a vast array of surfaces. You may recall the old saying, “all that glitters is not gold,” but in this case what you see is what you get. This is the “real deal,” just like my approach to the martial arts. Most of the gold surfaces in my school were created by gilding, a process that involves covering or accenting an item with a thin layer of gold. To gild the items that are displayed throughout my school, including statues, picture frames, moldings, and wall stencils, I brought in a skilled French-Canadian artist named Jean V. Poulin. Mr. Poulin began his career in 1951, and he created the large painting behind the altar in Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal. Mr. Poulin’s artistry in painting, gilding, and stained glass can be viewed in churches located in Montreal and the central United States (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado). He currently resides in Omaha. To gild the items in my school, Mr. Poulin used pure 24-karat gold leaf that comes in less-than-paper-thin sheets and is applied by hand. To gild the curved surfaces of statues and other three-dimensional items, the surface was first bronzed with a customized paint mixed by Mr. Poulin, then highlighted in gold leaf that was affixed with a special glue called gold size. In the final stage, small quantities of the bronzing paint were applied to smooth out the lines and add visual depth. I wanted to learn how to perform the gilding technique myself, so I asked Mr. Poulin to teach me how to do it. I invested a vast amount of money, time, and labor into the meticulous process of gilding the items in my school, but I believe the results are well worth the effort. Some of the descriptions in this Visitors’ Guide specifically state that the surface is gilded, but in other cases the gilding is not mentioned.

As the Founder of Christopher N. Geary’s Shaolin Kempo Karate, I have worked hard to create a martial arts school where people can admire and appreciate fine art as well as the martial discipline. The splendor of my school has a twofold purpose: to inspire my students and to intimidate my competitors. I want each of my students to realize that theyhave the ability to achieve whatever they make up their minds to accomplish. I want them to aim high and strive for excellence in everything they do. When I started teaching Kempo in 1994, I had nothing. I began by holding classes outdoors in a schoolyard baseball field, and today my Corporate Headquarters is a place of unsurpassed beauty and elegance.

I have found that viewing the lavish interior of my school affects people in different ways. From the moment they walk in the door (or view the pictures on my website), they tend to feel either intimidated or humbled. People who do not take martial arts training seriously are likely to feel uncomfortable and decide to go elsewhere. For example, in June 2006 I had a telephone conversation with a woman who seemed to be looking for a school that would give her 12-year-old son a black belt without requiring him to earn it. She told me that she had paid $5000 for lessons in another martial arts school, and the owner had promised to promote her son to black belt after three years of instruction. Her son had not received his black belt after the allotted time had passed, so she was looking around for someone who would give him the rank she felt he deserved. After not hearing from her for a couple of days, I called her and was told that she had found another school where her son could get his black belt more cheaply and quickly. Ultimately she had decided not to enroll her son in my school, and I believe the atmosphere of my school (as shown by the pictures on my website) factored into her decision. By contrast, people who are serious about their martial arts training tend to feel humbled when they walk into my school. The opulent atmosphere causes them to develop a respectful attitude that makes them easier to teach. They sense that they are in the presence of greatness, and they want to be part of it. The interior of my school asks a silent question of each person who enters: “What are you really here for?” Every object within these walls is here for a reason, and each person is here for a reason, too.

Live life to the fullest...

 “The mind completes its own thoughts by expressing them.”
~Louis XIV

This self-guided tour has 29 sections to correspond with the day I began teaching Kempo: June 29, 1994.

1. Centered on the front door of the Corporate Headquarters school is the seal of the Founder/President. The seal also is used on my outgoing correspondence, both electronic and paper. “The Seal of the Founder and President” was designed and established April 19 through 21, 2003. I am the only person who uses the seal. It can also be found in my office in the Corporate Headquarters. The design of the outer ring was created for the seal and then later found to resemble the letter “G” for Geary. The date “June 29, 1994” is the date that I returned home to Omaha, Nebraska and began teaching Kempo. The name of the style, “Geary’s Ch’uan Fa,” (which is properly known as Christopher N. Geary’s Shaolin Ch’uan Fa) can also be found on the patch located on the bottom portion of the seal. The five dots separating the text in the inner ring represent the five original animals of Shaolin: the Dragon, the Tiger, the Crane, the Leopard, and the Snake. The royal blue color of the seal’s background can be found in my office at the Corporate Headquarters. The gold logo in the middle pertains to me as the Founder/President. The gold color separates it from the red ones worn by Instructors of Geary’s Ch’uan Fa, as well as the students who wear the black-text logo. The mirror image (on the inside and outside of the door) took three days to be installed. The workers would get one side up and then could not line up the other side perfectly. After numerous trips back to their shop and numerous reprints the images finally lined up on both sides. This is the same level of attention to detail that I demand of myself, my Instructors, and my students when dealing with Kempo technique.

2. Upon entering the school, turn your gaze to the left to view the statue “Apollo of the Hunt.” The god depicted in this statue, Apollo, was the most widely revered and influential of all the Greek gods and was a deity of multiple functions and meanings. From around the time of Homer onward, Apollo was worshipped as the god of divine distance, who sent or threatened from afar. He was the god who purified men of their own guilt, after making them aware of it, of course. Apollo presided over religious law and the constitutions of cities. Through the use of prophets and oracles, Apollo communicated his knowledge of the future and the will of his father, Zeus. The gods themselves feared him, and only his father and mother, Zeus and Leto, could endure his presence for any length of time. Distance, death, terror, and awe were symbolized by his bow. Apollo’s nature was not all death and destruction however; the lyre was his other attribute, which heralded the joy of communion with the gods of Olympus through music, poetry, and dance. His forename, Phoebus, means bright or pure, and the view became current that he was connected with the sun. At his birth he stated his mission, and so he became the God of music, healing, light, and truth. One of his many duties entailed driving the sun across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot each day, creating the sunrise and sunset.

3. You will notice two prints immediately to the right of Apollo as you face the wall. I chose the background red color surrounding both prints to match the walls of my office as well as the background of the other prints in my school. The print on the lower left is “The Knight, the Young Girl, and Death” by Hans baldung Grien Gmünd (Swabia) 1484/85-strasbourg 1545. Painted on wood, it measures 14¼" x 12" (36 x 30 cm) and was acquired by the Louvre in Paris in 1924. I had my print created to be exactly the same size as the original. The print displayed higher on the wall is “St. George Fighting the Dragon, 1505.” The original is a Raphael painting on wood, measuring 12" x 10¼" (30 x 26 cm). Together with a painting of St. Michael, it formed a diptych that was acquired by Louis XIV from the heirs of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661. I had my print created in the same size as the original.

4. A display representing the belt ranking system is the next item along the north wall of the school. The piece showcases all of the solid-color belts one may achieve by progressing through the ranks of Christopher N. Geary’s Shaolin Ch’uan Fa, including nine Kyu ranks and ten Dan (black belt) ranks. I hand-tied each belt before putting them on display. Hanshi Lou Angel (tenth-degree black belt) signed all of the belts on the right side in October 2002 during his visit to Omaha. Sijo Victor “Sonny” Gascon (tenth-degree black belt) signed all of the belts on the left side during his March 2004 visit to Omaha.

5. Moving to the right along the north wall, look upward to view the samurai sword given to me by my Instructors and students in honor of my promotion to Godan (fifth-degree black belt). Shihan Steiner chose this gift and coordinated the collection of funds for its purchase. Just below the samurai sword you will find an authentic replica of the “Green Destiny,” the sword from the movie “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.” This sword was given to me by the Lim family. Two members of this family, a father and daughter, were my students. Casting your gaze further down the wall you will see the “Tiger Print.” This photo, which shows me in the Tiger stance, was taken at sunset in a Nebraska cornfield less than a mile from the school. In this photo I am wearing the red Gi blouse that is worn only by me as the Founder of my martial arts system. I wear the red blouse mostly at anniversary celebrations. To the left of this print are two smaller photos. The images are not perfect, but they are the best I was able to obtain. The top photo shows Sijo Victor “Sonny” Gascon with Professor Nick Cerio in Tennessee in August 1998, about three months before Professor Cerio passed away. In the photo immediately below it, I am standing next to Sijo Gascon in March 2004 while he was here in Omaha to present me with my Rokudan (sixth-degree black belt). To the right of the “Tiger Print” is another set of photos. The top one shows Hanshi Lou Angel with Master Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi in Japan, 1963. In the bottom photo, which was taken nearly forty years later, I am kneeling next to Hanshi Angel in October 2002 when he came to Omaha to promote me to Godan (fifth-degree black belt). This section of the school displays my martial arts lineage and demonstrates to my students what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance. If I were to put a plaque on the wall below this display, it would read: “Victory is mine.”

6. Next you will find a display of fourteen patches. Some of these patches were developed specifically for my school, and the rest were given to me by martial arts organizations or advisors. Some of these patches are no longer available today and have become collector’s items. At left in the top row is the United Studios of Self Defense (USSD) patch presented to me by my first instructor in the art of Kempo, Sensei Farzin Omidvar of San Clemente, California. The red patch on the right is the first patch worn by my earliest students. Note the similarity of the tree silhouette to the one in the USSD patch. On the left in the second row is the newer corporate patch of Christopher N. Geary’s Shaolin Kempo Karate (developed in 1995 and still in use today), which has a white background instead of red, and on the right is my style patch designed to match the shape and size of my fist. At the bottom of the style patch you will see a four-leaf clover symbolizing my Irish ancestry, together with a Roman numeral II symbolizing my astrological sign, Gemini. On the left in the next row is the patch given to me by Professor Nick Cerio when he promoted me to black belt in 1995. This patch was worn by members of Nick Cerio’s International Martial Arts Association (NCIMAA). My patch has a red border, which represents black belt ranking (patches for ranks below black belt had a black border). Next to it is a patch representing Hanshi Lou Angel’s organization, the National College of Martial Arts (NCMA). By itself in the next row is the patch presented to me in Orlando, Florida, in 2003 when I was honored as Master Instructor of the Year by the World Head of Family Sokeship Council International Hall of Fame. In the next row are two patches presented to me by Hanshi Lou Angel when I received my sixth-degree black belt in the art of Tenshi Goju Kai. The patch on the left, in the shape of a fist, is the original Goju Ryu style patch. On the right is a patch representing Tenshi Goju Kai, which is Hanshi Angel’s version of Goju Ryu. By itself in the next row is a crescent-shaped red patch signifying the Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu Black Belt Society (KGS BBS), and the patches below it are two versions of the Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu patch. The older version on the left was mailed to me by Bruce Corrigan of Tennessee during the 1990s, before I became a member of the KGS BBS. The patch on the right was given to me in 2002 when I joined the organization. Immediately below these two patches you will notice a patch representing the Hawaii state flag. This patch was given to me by the KGS BBS, whose Founder resides in Pearl City, Hawaii. The dragon patch at the bottom of the display was created for my six-year anniversary celebration during the Year of the Dragon, 2000. This patch was given to all of the students and Instructors who attended the six-year anniversary celebration, and no one else can wear it.

7. Next you will see the FocusMaster and the speed bag, both of which are used for training. The use of both items leads to a higher class of training for my students. In keeping with the training theme, immediately to the right of the speed bag is the “Weapons Wall.” Here all of the weapons used in the school are beautifully displayed around the Geary family crest centerpiece, which is trimmed in gold leaf. The crest is shaped like a shield, which seems to be a fitting centerpiece for a display of weapons. The final product before you—the frame, background painting, and the hanging of the weapons—is the culmination of more than ten weeks of work by three different groups of people.

8. Moving to the wall behind the water cooler, you will see six items on display. In the center frame in the top row are two title certificates presented to me by Hanshi Lou Angel. The one on the left, displaying the title of Shihan, was presented to me in October 2002. The one on the right, showing the title of Professor, was presented to me in August 2005. On the left and right sides of the certificates from Hanshi Angel are two certificates presented to me by Dr. Keith Nesbitt of the International Martial Arts Masters Federation in September 2006. On the far left is a rank certificate promoting me to Tenth-Degree Black Belt (Judan), the highest belt rank in the martial arts. Being promoted to Tenth Dan at age 35 made me the youngest person in the United States to have achieved this rank through legitimate means. On the far right in the top row is a certificate from Dr. Nesbitt confirming my status as the Founder of my system, Christopher N. Geary's Shaolin Ch'uan Fa. Below the title certificates, on the left, is my certificate and belt awarded to me for Sixth Dan in the art of Tenshi Goju Kai, which was presented to me by Hanshi Angel during his visit to Omaha in October 2004. A large frame on the right surrounds two lists: “Christopher N. Geary’s 10 Principles of Shaolin Kempo” and “Dojo Rules and Etiquette.”

9. On the wall to the left of the office is a clock made by Sligh. I had it registered to Shihan Christopher N. Geary on October 1, 2002, the same day I received my Godan (fifth-degree black belt) from Hanshi Lou Angel. This was also the day I received my Shihan certification and became a master in the martial arts at the age of 31. This traditional-style clock must be hand-wound every six to seven days. On the same wall as the clock are the entrances to the restrooms, which are labeled Venus and Mars in keeping with the Greco-Roman deity imagery of the school. Above your head you will notice three photos printed on canvas with gilded frames. I call this the Mayoral Wall. These portraits show me standing next to each of the elected mayors of Omaha, Nebraska, since I began teaching. They are, in order from left to right, P. J. Morgan, Hal Daub, and Mike Fahey.

10. The Hanshi Lou Angel print is displayed on the east wall next to the office. Edmund Parker, Jr., drew the original portrait. He is the son of American Kenpo founder Grandmaster Ed Parker, who was a close friend of Hanshi Angel. This is a limited edition print (number 7 of 200), signed and numbered by the artist. Also included with the print is an actual piece of Hanshi Angel’s red belt, which was awarded to him when he received his Judan (tenth-degree black belt). Not only did I dedicate a wall to this piece, but I had it specially framed and highlighted with 24-karat gold French Rococo designs.

11. Returning to the front of the office, notice the 24-karat gold leaf stencils on the wooden walls. Unlike the statues, which are bronzed and then gilded, these stencils are pure gold, not overlaid onto any bronzing. They are also highlighted by hand with a royal-blue paint. I commissioned artist Jean V. Poulin (see the brief biography of Mr. Poulin in the Introduction) to custom design, hand make, and apply the French Rococo stencils used in and around my office. As per the contractual agreement, when the job was done, Jean handed over the stencil designs to me so they could never be used anywhere else. Also per our agreement, you will never see any of Jean’s work in any other martial arts school anywhere.

12. Entering the office, you will notice a Victorian love seat that is more than a century old. I purchased this piece at an antique store here in Omaha. The store owner told me the chair was acquired from a doctor. The love seat was in an old-fashioned home office during a time when doctors still made house calls or patients went to the doctor’s home. It was covered in an ugly pink fabric when I bought it, so I had it reupholstered in a royal blue and restored as well. The reasoning behind my purchase of the love seat is twofold. Firstly, I saw it and immediately loved it. Secondly it symbolizes something extremely old that can be slightly modified for today’s society and remain practical, just like the millennia-old techniques of Kempo.

13. Behind my desk is a credenza topped by shelves filled with books, videotapes, and artwork. Due to limitations of space and time, I will not attempt to describe every item displayed on the shelves and walls within my office. Instead, I will highlight a few points of interest. Displayed on the shelves within the right side of the credenza is my Fabergé egg collection. Fabergé combined superb craftsmanship with subtle playfulness that still entertains and inspires awe to this day. The Fabergé egg tradition began in 1885 when Alexander III, Czar of Russia, had an Easter egg made for his wife Maria. She was so enchanted by this gift that the Czar decided that Peter Carl Fabergé, the imperial jeweler for the Russian nobility, would create an egg for Maria each year with a surprise inside. There are only fifty of the original Imperial Fabergé Easter eggs in the world, and the whereabouts of eight of them are unknown. Peter’s great-granddaughter, Tatiana Fabergé, carries on the tradition today. My “Coronation Egg” is not one of the fifty original eggs prepared for the Czarina, but it is an authentic Fabergé egg created under Tatiana’s supervision. The other eggs in my collection are Fabergé-style reproductions. Some of these delicately designed works of art, like the originals, open to reveal a compartment holding a surprise. Each exquisite piece is made of brilliant enamel, and the tiny embellishments are made by hand, recreating the splendor of the original fifty Imperial Fabergé Easter eggs.

14. On either end of the credenza are two statues. On the left is “Hercules,” one of the most famous images of Renaissance Italy. The sculpture recreates one of the twelve heroic labors of Hercules. Rossi (a disciple of Michelangelo) was commissioned, for the Palazzo Vecchio, to illustrate the scene in which Hercules throws Diomedes to his own man-eating mares. The stature on the right depicts “Adam – the first man.” According to the Bible, man was created to rule his environment and control his destiny. The Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, includes this passage: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

15. In the center display case of the credenza is my Shodan (first-degree black belt) certificate presented to me by Professor Nick Cerio in 1995. Also in this display case is the teacup from the tea ceremony performed by Sijo Victor “Sonny” Gascon when he recognized my Rokudan (sixth-degree black belt) in 2004. Thus a visual link is created from Shodan to Rokudan—then to now. On the east wall of the school, centered over the credenza, are two framed and gilded dragons facing each other on a royal blue background. Between the two is a gilded “G” for Geary.

16. On the shelf in the southwest corner of my office you will see an Egyptian-style cat. Cats were never officially considered deities, but were often believed to be the earthly embodiment of a deity. This particular cat is watching over a gilded box held by four cherubs. The box contains soil from the Field Club Elementary yard, the first place I ever taught martial arts. Also within the box are river rocks from outside my first commercial school located in downtown Omaha at 30th & Harney Street.

17. Throughout and around the office you will see statues of cherubs. Cherubs are defined as winged celestial beings, the second of the nine orders of angels described in medieval times. A cherub is a representation of a small angel, portrayed as a child with a chubby, rosy face. I had them placed in and around my office to represent youth, beauty, and happiness for myself, the corporation, and my future students. The cherubs symbolize my hope that I and the corporation will become rich with the wisdom of age, yet remain youthful, healthful, and prosperous.

18. On my desk you will see a Lladró figurine called “Mirror, Mirror.” The graceful Japanese woman in this work of art brings an Asian influence to balance the French Renaissance theme shared by most of the artwork in my school. Among the other items on my desk is an arrangement of Waterford crystal. I thought it only appropriate to display high-quality crystal, which just happens to be Irish, on the desk of a high-quality martial arts instructor who happens to be of Irish ancestry. On the left side of the entrance to my office as you walk in, you will notice shelves containing belts for most of the people I have promoted to black belt. These belts are stored here for two reasons: they are here for the convenience of my Instructors, and their presence affirms that each of these individuals has a place in the Corporate Office.

19. Outside the office, on the east wall by the south exit, you will find two certificates with gilded frames. The upper one is my Shichidan (seventh-degree black belt) certification from Hanshi Lou Angel, which I received on June 29, 2005, the eleventh anniversary of the day I began teaching. Immediately below my Shichidan certificate from Hanshi Angel you will see my Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu Rokudan certificate from Sijo Victor “Sonny” Gascon. Just below it you will see the red-and-white Rokudan belt that Sijo Gascon personally tied onto me on March 13, 2004.

20. On the south wall of the school just outside the office are four paintings. At the top, centered above the portrait of Napoleon, is a print of Saint Joan of Arc at the Coronation of King Charles VII, reproduced from an oil painting created by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingress in 1854. In May 1429 at the Battle of Orleans, Joan led the French to an incredible victory over the English. Joan then personally escorted Charles to his coronation at the cathedral in Reims. On July 17, 1429 Joan was present as Charles was crowned King of France. Less than two years later, on May 30, 1431, she was burned at the stake as a heretic and sorceress when she was only 19 years old. King Charles VII did nothing in her defense. Below the print of St. Joan of Arc are portraits of George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Sir Winston Churchill. I look to these three great leaders for inspiration. George Washington, the “Father of Our Country,” reminds me to always cherish that which I have created and to have the integrity to defend it if need be. Napoleon, who rose from humble beginnings (as I have done) and went on to become Emperor of France, reminds me of what can be done with great determination. He once told Pope Pius VII, “My business is to succeed, and I’m good at it. I create my Iliad by my own actions, create it day by day.” Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain during World War II, is an example of the heights to which a gifted orator can inspire an entire country. I feel he was a bold man who did what he said he would do. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” It seemed that in the darkest hours of the war a Churchill speech would breathe life back into the British people.

21. On the south wall near the mirrors is a print of the “Profile of a Warrior in Helmet” by Leonardo Da Vinci, c. 1472. The original is a silverpoint on prepared paper, measuring 11¼" x 8½" (285 x 207 mm) and is displayed at the British Museum in London. This picture reminds me of the first black belt I ever promoted, my Corporate Vice President, Shihan Shawn M. Steiner. He’s been with me through good times and lean, as a loyal and trusted companion. No matter whether he agrees with me or not, I can count on him to follow my instructions. More importantly, I can also count on him to let me know whether he believes I am right or wrong. I placed the print in this spot so that the warrior is facing the office. Like Shihan Steiner, the warrior is eternally standing at attention and keeping a respectful eye on things. Shihan Steiner once said to me, “If I had all the money in the world, I would not gold leaf a thing.” Since I acquired this print to remind me of Shihan Steiner, it will never be gilded. Below the Da Vinci print is my photograph with the inscription “Ante Bellum” (Before War). In the photograph you will see an escrima stick with six parallel burn marks signifying my sixth-degree black belt ranking at the time the photograph was taken.

22. On the south wall over the mirrors are the Anniversary pictures from all the years I’ve been teaching Kempo. These pictures chronicle the full history of my teaching career, my Instructors, and all the students who have been enrolled in my schools throughout the years. The first five were taken at my school at 30th & Harney, the sixth was taken at Shihan Steiner’s first school located at 138th & Maple, and the remaining photos were taken at my Corporate Headquarters. Occasionally during break time in class, senior students can be overheard pointing out to junior students just how many years they’ve been around, based on those Anniversary group photos. To the right of the anniversary photos are two photos flanking a framed certificate. In the left-hand photo I can be seen standing next to Sijo Sonny Gascon and Shihan Steiner in March 2004 outside of Field Club Elementary School (where I taught my first students). Between the two photos is a certificate from Sijo Gascon authorizing me to teach the art of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu up to the rank of Fifth Dan. This certificate was presented to me on October 18, 2004. The right-hand photo was taken in March 2004 and shows Michael Rash, me, Sijo Sonny Gascon, and Bradford Namahoe outside of my first commercial location at 30th & Harney.

23. The Foo Dogs on either side of the sword stand are ancient Chinese guardians. In China they are used to guard Buddhist temples against evil spirits and wrongdoers. Their other purpose is to maintain peace and tranquility within whatever structure they are guarding. They may also be known as Happiness Dogs or Celestial Dogs. These two particular dogs were the first statues I had bronzed and gilded. The sword stand holds three traditional Japanese swords, and a dragon is carved and gilded at the base of the stand.

24. The ancient Chinese kanji on the beam between the mirrors translates to “whatever it takes.” It was translated and written by the Chinese father of one of my students. Jean Poulin painted it using colors he specifically mixed to match his gilding work within the school. The saying is part of one of my mantras, which is “You must do whatever it takes to achieve your goals and dreams.” Above the kanji is a hand-carved wooden warrior mask that I acquired when I traveled to Hawaii during the summer of 2005. During this trip I received the School of the Year Award from the Hawaii Martial Arts International Society. Hawaii holds great significance for me because it is the birthplace of Kempo in the United States.

25. On the south wall near the front of the school is a print of a painting called “Allegory of Justice” by Bartolomeus Spranger, Antwerp 1546 – Prague 1611. The original was done on canvas, measuring 51½" x 41½" (131 x 106 cm) and acquired by the Louvre in Paris in 1936. I had my print created to measure 24" x 19¼". The background red color is the same one that was custom made for me to match the walls of my office. In the corner immediately to the right of this print is the statue “Diana the Huntress.” Diana was the Roman name for the Greek goddess Artemis. She was the goddess of the hunt and of the moon. She was the daughter of Jupiter (the King God) and the sister of Apollo (the God of War). Diana was an important goddess to women, as it was believed she would grant an easy childbirth to her favorite mortals. She is often depicted in her role as a huntress with a bow and a quiver full of arrows. In most paintings and many sculptures there is dog or deer at her side. Diana also was the guardian of springs and streams and protector of wild animals.

26. The Founder photo is located on the west wall next to the American flag. This flag was donated to the school by Melvin Muhammad. A gilded frame surrounds the photo, which was taken by the ocean during my trip to Hawaii in the summer of 2005, when I received the School of the Year Award. Students bow to the Flag, Founder, and Instructor at the beginning and end of each class. There is no religious significance in this procedure; each bow is a show of respect. First to our country, the greatest in the world; second to the Founder of the martial art studied here, which is one of the greatest martial art styles in existence; and lastly to the Instructor of that class, the greatest he or she can possibly be at that moment.

27. The window treatments were custom designed and installed (on February 29, 2004, Leap Year Day) by Doreen Ideus of Lincoln, Nebraska. The color scheme of red and gold matches the red walls and gold items in the school. The velvet side panels are secured with tiebacks of gold and have an overlay of swags and cascades with a gilded cherub holder set. The 100% cotton is trimmed with three-inch gold bullion fringe. The damask top swags and cascades are red, trimmed with 2¼"-inch loop gold tassel fringe. The cascades hang approximately 54" in length and the contrasting gold fabric is pure silk. Everything is lined with gold brushed cotton specifically to facilitate an aesthetic appearance from the outside of the school as well as the inside. The omnipresent cherubs are displayed on the window treatments as well. Each window has a total of four cherubs to represent the four seasons that the school is open.

28. To the left of the door, mounted on the wall, you will see a gilded bust of Mars. An exquisite piece of art, this bust is intricately carved and richly detailed. Mars is wearing a classic Griffon Helmet, the stylized symbol of royal warfare. As a symbol of strength and courage, the lion is repeated on his armored breastplate. Mars was the Roman god of war, agriculture, and of the state. Mars was the son of the god Juno and the husband of the goddess Bellona. Festivals to open and close the military campaign season in March (named for Mars) and October were held in his honor. As Mars Quirinius, he was father to the famed twins Romulus and Remus (who sailed with Ulysses) by the vestal virgin Rhea Silvia. After the twins were rescued from the Tiber River, Mars raised them with the help of the great she-wolf and the sacred bird, Picus. To the right of the door you will see a gilded bust of Minerva. This incredibly detailed bust showcases the classic Roman helmet, and the famous armor breastplate with the face of Medusa emblazoned upon it. The goddess of civilized war, Minerva ranked third in the Roman pantheon, after Jupiter and Juno. Minerva was also known as the goddess of wisdom and crafts, primarily weaving and spinning. The daughter of Jupiter and sister to Hebe (royal water-bearer to the gods), Minerva also went by the name “Minerve au Collier.” I selected these two statues because in viewing the God and Goddess of War one will realize that life is war and this reality is the reason for training here.

29. Above the front door is a gilded Devonshire wall pediment. The British coat of arms (a symbol of the sculpture’s land of origin) is flanked by Baroque cherubs and highly detailed hounds. This elegant stone-finished resin sculpture duplicates eighteenth-century antique architecture often found atop tapestries, paintings, doorways, and windows.