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About Hanshi Hawkins

On January 4, 1944, the city of Baltimore, Maryland, obtained a newborn citizen destined for caring, teaching, and guiding inner city youth to learn important life skills. One may never know why the Supreme Being chooses us to fulfill our life destinies. On that day Hanshi Riley Hawkins opened his eyes to a city necessitating youth leadership. What a heavy load to put on the shoulders of such a warm hearted human being. It’s ever apparent that some people are chosen for a “higher calling in life.” These people tend to have a profound sensitivity of the human condition. Obviously, as always, the Supreme Being knew exactly what he was doing because Riley Hawkins has always had broad shoulders!

Author Robert Jarvik once said, “Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” Anyone who has the pleasure of knowing Riley Hawkins realizes that Robert Javik was talking about him. If Hanshi Hawkins had to take an exam to analyze fear, he’d fail. Teaching or analyzing his fear is as ridicules as attempting to teach a lion to fear its prey. Former President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership.” Obviously President Eisenhower didn’t know Hanshi Hawkins because if he did he would have not written that quote. We’ve witnessed Hanshi Hawkins hit a lot of opponents over the head and followed his leadership as French soldiers did Napoleon Bonaparte. On many occasions he has lead us into the “harms way of the various hostile battles involving many of our mental and physical endeavors” with results of glorious victory.

What’s uniquely different about Hanshi Hawkins teaching method, compared to others, is his strong emphasis of teaching not only an ancient traditional art form but “a new reason for living.” He challenges the basic hypothesis of today’s martial arts Sensei. Most Sensei focus their instruction on techniques with a focal point of students striving for rank colored belts at a rarely affordable financial cost. Many of today’s Sensei yearn high profits from students. Conversely, Hanshi Hawkins believes that “commerce may lead to compromise.” In fact, he believes that many Sensei compromise their integrity when they charge expensive fees to low income inner city youths. Hanshi Hawkins considers this “morally inconsiderate” while affronting the human consciousness. He emphatically denounces the act of Sensei “bleeding financially challenged low income students.” Instead, Hanshi Hawkins takes on the challenge of preparing and motivating his students to live successful lives. Hanshi Hawkins truly believes that martial arts is a way of life instead of a business.

What drives this obsession of Hanshi Hawkins leading inner youth to assertively pursue academia & profession and not smoke, drink, do drugs, or disrespect his/her brethren is beyond comprehension. Why he is so fixated on guiding inner city youth to make the right choices during their life’s journey is mind-boggling. In most cases he not only does this for free but at his cost! Legally, he owes inner city youth and their family’s zilch. Unbelievably he has taken on responsibility and accepts accountability for every action that he undertakes involving his karate-ka. What’s amazing is that these undertakings commenced since his early twenties. Taking on challenges during the prime of ones life is going against the grain of the reality of “environmental peer influence.” Instead of hanging out with his neighborhood peers, going to the bars, dating many women, and various other vicinity pastimes; He chose to spend his time to mentor youth while incurring financial lost. So many times he has dug into his pockets to give karate-ka bus fare, money for hungry kids, and various other situations. Many times he has been offered martial arts instructor jobs from the west coast only to turn down the offers because his refusal to leave Avengers karate-ka. He spends money on karate-ka as if they were his own children. He’s gone to schools of karate-ka youth checking on their academic progress and behavior. His compulsion to positively guide misguided inner city youth “tramples the edge of sanity”.

Sometimes parents spend much time correcting symptoms rather than problems. Attending school in the inner city can be dangerous. Often peer pressure from bullies run rampant. Poor grades may be identified with poor study habits; but are the poor study habits the problem or symptom? Sometimes fear can cause poor study habits. On numerous occasions bullies cause students to develop poor study habits. Maybe the question should be; “Is the student mind focused on academia or fear?” How can students focus on academics if they fear physical altercations from school bullies? Often these bullies negatively dissuade “academically focused kids” from pursuing high academic results.

Social dynamics continue to change in inner city schools. Dealing with bullies today may be different from the past. Are today’s parents aware of how to deal with bullies of today? Hanshi Hawkins is highly qualified to mentor this subject to karate-ka because of the enormous size of his karate-ka population. He simply has more practice of mentoring students in dealing with bullies than many parents.

Hanshi Hawkins provides karate-ka guidance to always attempt to achieve the highest standards no matter what the endeavor. He also mentors necessary interpersonal mental and physical skills to equip karate-ka to deal with bullies. tHe Hanshi teaches karate-ka concepts of the Bushido code; “The greatest battle ever one is the battle that’s never fought.” Hanshi Hawkins mentoring personifies “the seven virtues of Bushido, which are:

1. rectitude
2. courage
3. benevolence
4. respect
5. complete sincerity
6. honor
7. loyalty

These virtues are a requirement for karate-ka to perform prior to advancing in rank.

It’s a rarity when a bully attempts to intimidate an Avenger. The fighting reputations of Avengers are nationwide. Hanshi Hawkins students are impressively enticing as “the aroma of a cowboy’s stew on a campfire range tempting coyotes.” Three times a week Baltimore city "spectator residents" would regularly crowd the Sharp Street Avenger Dojo sessions to witness fighting skills that rivaled “Madison Square Garden Championship matches. When Avengers competed at karate tournaments they would almost always win the largest majority of trophies. “Word travels fast as the grapevine is real.” It would be a very bad choice for a bully to attempt to coerce an Avenger. Although Avengers are taught to never start fights they are guided to protect each other as if they are “blood relatives.”

So many times I have witnessed him destroy “the melancholy madness of many karateka,” by transferring their downheartedness to optimism for success. Numerous students have walked in his Dojo exhibiting a “don’t carish attitude” to transition into highly motivated goal searchers with a starving appetite for success. Many Avengers, including myself, credit Hanshi Hawkins for having the largest influence in their lives. His “lead by example” style of leadership is often mirrored by his many students. It’s “factual reality” that statistics clearly evidence strong of high numbers of inner city youth in jail, homelessness, and death rates. Many Avengers have beaten the odds of these grim statistics, but not without the guidance of Hanshi Hawkins. The great jazz musician Dizzy Gillepsie once responded to a reporter’s question about Louis Armstrong. The reporter asked Dizzy, “What impact did Louis Armstrong have on your jazz life?” Dizzy replied, “No him, No me.” The question that many Avengers ponder is, “Without Hanshi Hawkins guidance where would we be in life today?’

Hanshi Hawkins has unleashed forces of sensitivity that most people are not aware exists. Also, he has deputized his Blackbelts to continue his purpose for martial arts sensitivity of inner city youth. What I find most amazing about Hanshi Hawkins is, I strongly believe, that his love, care, and concern for enriching karate-ka youth is his life’s addiction. I’m convinced that he can’t break this habit or dependence because he is hooked on “His Calling” from the Supreme Being. Long live the Hawk!