August 2, 2013

Mike Sherman: Profile of a True Martial Artist & Kettlebell Champion

Over the past 20+ years my perspective of what a true "martial artist" is has changed numerous times.  I think it is a natural progression for beginners to think martial arts are all about kicking ass and taking names, after all that is what we always saw on kung fu theater Saturday afternoons!  As I progressed into the Chinese martial realm the healing aspect of the martial arts was emphasized even to the point that I graduated from the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics.  And now a couple decades later I find myself critical of martial artists who do not push themselves on some level or another, be it physically, competitively, educationally, etc.  I have come to realize it is the fight within ourselves, the struggle of everyday existence and life itself that is what true martial artists are constantly training for. 

Sensei Mike Sherman of American Kenpo Karate in Toledo, Ohio was my first instructor back in the way back olden days.  A boxer from the wrong side of town to be a scrawny white kid, Mr. Sherman is hands down the best Karate instructor in Ohio and is the epitome of a martial artist with the warrior spirit.  A 5th dan in Karate with over 40 years of experience Mike Sherman has been a lifelong, dedicated karateka.  Never one to settle, in the 15 years or more since I have trained back home he has gone on to study traditional Okinawan weaponry, as well as becoming a world kettlebell lifting champion!

On a visit back home recently I stopped in to see my instructor from back in day.  As we caught up and he showed me around the new dojo, we hit the back wall which was covered with shadow boxes containing medals.  I made mention that he must have gotten really good at triathlons over the years, and Mr. Sherman looked at me quizzically and said "Dude, I haven't done triathlons since you have trained here.  These are all from competitive kettlebell lifting."

I was dumbfounded and in awe not just because of the sheer number of titles that adorned the wall, but I felt such an overwhelming sense of humbleness as 15 years after I last trained with a man 20 years my senior, I still have much to learn and be inspired by!  He has never settled.  Always challenging himself and pushing the levels of physical fitness and ability Mike Sherman epitomizes what I consider to be a true teacher and practitioner of the martial arts.

Needless to say I immediately asked to take some private lessons on fundamentals of kettlebell training!  I mean I would be foolish to pass up this opportunity to train with a world champ and candidate for master of sport, and so I did some training and learned so much in a short amount of time that it is not even funny.  They rank athletes in Russia via a title called "Master of Sport," and right now Mr. Sherman is a candidate for master of sport... not an easy achievement, especially for a westerner!

This is exactly why I love the martial arts... not only are the majority of people you meet awesome, but I can visit my teacher of 20 years ago and still be inspired and learn so much from him  He also was kind enough to ask me to teach some of his classes where I shared some of my grappling knowledge with his cadre.  I hope his students realize what an absolute gem they have tucked away in a small corner of NW Ohio!

For more info visit:
American Kenpo Karate
5840 W. Central Ave.
Toledo, OH. 43615

 It is an honor to be a black belt under you sir, you have taught me from day one and continue to inspire and invigorate.  Thank you.

Jake Burroughs

PS This was Mr Sherman's response a few hours after he read the blog post on Facebook:
"Thank You Mr. Burroughs !...I'm humbled by such kind words. After all of these years, one of my biggerst pleasures is to see someone like yourself do such great things with the martial arts and not just keep it to themself and continue to give and help others !...I am honored and inspired by you as well ! Thank You"

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