Success in the martial arts helps build the character and discipline that can lead to success in all other aspects of your life.

In the fall of 2010, I had my regular 6 month appointment with my oncologist. The way colon cancer treatment works, they start counting from the day you are diagnosed and for five years you are a “patient”. If you get through the five years without any recurrence, you are declared “cured”. With that clean bill of health in early August, I could breathe easily again. The checkup was on August 2nd. It was five years ago in late August that I went in for my surgery. Now it is official, for real and legit – I’m all done.

When I found out that I had cancer, I was told that with treatment, there was an 80% chance of making it to the five year mark. While 80% is pretty good, in my heart I felt like the odds weren’t really that good. You see, my mother had 8 siblings. Of those 9 kids, 4 of them (including my mother) died from cancer and two others had it but made it through. So I felt like my family history was not working in my favor.

I credit Kempo with literally saving my life. You see, as I was nearing the end of my chemo treatments, I was in a bad way. Very dark, depressed thoughts, always wondering if I was going to make it through. On a Tuesday afternoon in February of 2006, that changed. After getting home from work, I was feeling bad both physically and emotionally. After sitting in my easy chair for a few minutes, I decided it was time to turn things around. If the journey to black belt taught me anything, it was the power of stubborn, hard work. So I decided to go do some floor wipes. I told myself that if I could do twenty sets of floor wipes, then “I’m not sick, I’m just feeling bad”. So I went down to the old Central Branch to do some floor wipes. Since classes were going on, I asked Assistant Professor Johnson if I could use part of the floor and of course he said yes.

I hadn’t told Asst. Prof. Johnson what I was really up to so he probably assumed I was going to do 10 and go home. As I finished my 19th set, I stood up and quietly said “19, sir”. I didn’t realize it but he was walking by at the time and turned and asked “What did you say?” I tried to hide what I was up to and answered simply with “Just counting my sets sir”. He didn’t let it go and had me repeat myself. Then he just looked at me for a minute and said “Okay, don’t hurt yourself” and then walked away. Of course, he didn’t really walk away. He kept an eye on me as I finished up and then made sure I got out to my car okay, He also made me call him when I got home to make sure I got home safely.

The sense of accomplishment that I had when I walked off the floor was what I needed. From that point forward, my spirit was strong. I had won. I wasn’t sick, I was just feeling bad. From then on, it was just a matter of counting down the days until today. Now that today has come, I wanted to share this story and say thank you to my Kempo family.

Had I not been in Kempo, I wouldn’t have known what I needed to do to make myself better. I probably would have let the dark thoughts win and we all know that where the mind goes, the body follows. Every time you set the standards for our physical conditioning, every time you don’t let a student quit when the going gets tough, every time you make someone work harder than they thought they could, you are giving them the tools they need for winning a future battle. The example you set for me and the work you demanded from me paid off for me on that day. For that, I offer my deepest, most sincere thanks.

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About the Author

, Assistant Professor at Pine Creek

Assistant Professor DiPentino began his martial arts career in July 1, 1985 where he began studying Chinese Kempo-Karate at the Highplains Branch of Universal Kempo-Karate Schools Association in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He received his Black Belt in 1989 and received his 8th Degree Black Belt in June 2012.

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