In the last few years I have been travelling to Eastern Europe in the summer to participate in English camps for the youth. Though we provide them with a bit of informal English education, our main goal has always been to build relationships and be a positive role-model for the youth. I have made a lot of friends in Slovakia and it has always been in the back of my mind that I wanted to move there when the time was right to be more involved in the lives of the youth. I started going to the Newbury Park Martial Arts Center about nine months ago when I had just come back from a four month backpacking trip in Europe.

Before even attending my first class I knew I wanted to achieve a black belt after Paul Molinsky showed me a quick demo of all the elements in To-Shin Do. As the past months ensued I had been looking for work to start to save up money so I could possibly live abroad in the future, but it would be after I achieved a black belt. It is difficult to put into words and explain, but during the last few months I have been feeling a weighty sensation on my heart that windows of opportunity here were closing and opening up somewhere else and it went beyond simply having a hard time finding a job. After having numerous conservations with friends overseas and seeking counsel from mentors, I bought a one-way ticket. I feel that this is the next step that I need to take in my journey in order to grow personally and spiritually to mature into the man that I will become. Though I would like to have delayed the coming of this next step in my journey, I do believe things happen for a reason and sense that my time here is over, at least for now.

My only regret is that I could not spend more time learning this art with the great instructors and people at the dojo. I  believe that I have been spoiled to have such advanced instructors who all have their unique way of teaching this art. Learning Earth over the past nine months has given me a confidence in myself to which I have never had completely before. To wrap this up I am thankful to all that I have trained with and wish you all the best of luck. I will most likely be back to visit and will definitely check in at the dojo to attend classes. As for now, new opportunities, friendships, and of course work awaits me over there.

Jeff Barnett

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