A couple of weeks ago, I was driving our studio's assistant instructor, Marina, home, and as we neared the location of our old studio building (that is slated for demolition), I decided to stop and see what was going on with the building.
"The roof is gone...." Marina said.
"Gone? You mean falling in? They started tearing it down?" I asked.
"The roof is gone....you can see up into the sky from the inside".....
We went to the rear of the building, knowing that Jerry, the local homeless guy, was living in our old storage shed. Jerry is a great old guy....he was always there to drive away anybody that would loiter in the back parking lot.....
Jerry let us in the building through the back door, since it was unlocked. What a huge mess. The roof was indeed gone, and it was all laying inthousands of pieces on the floor. It was a sad, bittersweet moment. In the moonlight that shined into the shell of the building, Marina and I saw all of the little items that we left behind when we moved.....paint cans, leftover office items like paper clips and binder clips, the big can of sand we used for sand bags.
Then, walking upon the old training floor, we saw a couple of the patterns we painted on the floor, for footwork training. I almost cried. We spent hundreds of hours stripping the whole floor of 90 year old tile, being on our hands and knees for a week straight chipping off pieces of tile that wouldn't come off with the big tools, sanding and prepping the floor, spending long days laying careful coats of white paint on the floor, and more days on our knees or in squatting positions painstakingly measuring, taping out, and painting the footwork patterns....
.....And now, the only things remaining are the colors of the few footwork patterns that weren't buried under thousands of pounds of musty roof lumber. It was an odd sight, the red triangle-footwork shape and the blue box-step diagram peeking out in the darkness, highlighted only by moonlight.
The building smelled so old that night. A hundred year old building that housed a longtime grocery store, a butcher shop, a deli, and lastly our martial arts studio....now carried the musty odor of time, a previous fire that was built over, and old plaster that hid behind the walls we built over it.
I wanted to just sit there all night and re-live the many memories that we made there. We brought up many generations of skilled martial artists, and became a fixture in the West Seattle area. I will miss the neighborhood greatly...but moreso, I'll miss that old building very much.
Thank you West Seattle. Since my early days as a young Karate Instructor, the neighborhood provided a wonderful home for me...from my first days teaching at Southwest and Alki community centers, to my first commercial Karate studio, to teaching Kajukenbo with my business partner, to continuing the Wushu lineage of my Wushu and Tai Chi teacher. Many people earned their black belts in West Seattle.
My goal, is when a space opens up in West Seattle, I'm jumping at it. I'll be back one day, that's for sure!
Above, are pics of the old footwork patterns on the old studio floor, and a pic of the address on our old front door.