What follows is the text of a letter I sent to my instructor on 10 February 2006:

TO: Mits Uchida
President, United States Taido Association

CC: Bryan Sparks, Mitsuaki Uchida, Buddy Fossett, Robert Pope, John Clerici, Mike Cowan


This is a letter I have wanted to write for a very long time, and I imagine you know what it’s about. Bryan has already spoken with you about this, so I simply wanted to send this letter as a written record of my support.

Laura Bardey, Shelley Matthews, and Bolot Kerimbaev are ready for shodan. They have been practicing with us since 1999, with no breaks and nothing less than their best efforts in all functions. In class, they practice hard and help their classmates. Outside of class, they help to keep the club organized and moving forward. I could fill pages telling you all that these three students have done to help our club grow, but I think their Taido speaks for itself.

Bryan and I have discussed this for months, and as much as we know that these students still have much to learn and practice in Taido, we feel that it is time for them to begin meeting these challenges on their own terms – as black belts. In the past, we have tended towards perfectionism with our students, and are very proud of our high standards. However, we also feel that we should help our students set reasonable goals for their progress in Taido. To this end, we believe that earning a black belt should be an attainable benchmark at Georgia Tech.

September of this year will mark our club’s tenth anniversary, and we feel it would be appropriate to test these three students before that time. With your support and that of the Black Belt Society, it is our wish to announce these three students as black belt candidates. Over these next months, we intend to administer a written examination and an essay assignment. Then, with your permission, we would like to schedule a physical examination with you at the Honbu Dojo to be held in Spring/Summer 2006.

Thank you for your attention and support. As always, please feel free to contact either Bryan or I with any questions.

Hugs and Kisses,

Andy Fossett

Manager, Georgia Institute of Technology Taido Club