“The Watchers of the Art” – by Mr. Tom Graves – Associate Master of the Arts – I.K.K.A.

Earlier this month, we had the honor of witnessing the IKKA promotions of two great men, Mr. Tommy Burks, to Master of the Arts, 9th Degree and, Mr. William Larry Kongaika to Senior Professor of the Art, 7th Degree. Mr. Tom Graves was recognized as an IKKA Associate Master of the Art, 8th Degree, and Mr. Greg Hilderbrand Professor of the Art, 6th Degree. During the promotional ceremony, Mr. Graves was asked to read something he wrote, based on what he and others have experienced, during their journey in the Martial Arts which he calls:

“The Watchers of the Art”

As caretakers of the art, we need always to remember to keep the art first, our students second, and ourselves last. I believe by putting ourselves last, we win it all, because we all win, by keeping the art strong through the student. (Remember the art doesn’t come alive until the student performs it) This is why the student is a close second.
By placing ourselves last, we have the privilege and honor to be a part of the growth of a great art.

Therefore, when we get the privilege to become instructors of the art, we take the responsibility and the obligation to be the watchers of the art, and hold it, and treat it in high regard.
Sad to say, this has not been the case, as we have seen, and some have experienced, that many have put themselves in front of the art and student, therefore, being a part of the deterioration of the art. They have fallen short of their responsibility and obligation as the watchers of their time. This is unforgivable damage to the art for the sake of self-benefit and egos.

But, as we have seen the lack of responsibility and obligation being met by these individuals forsaking the art and students of their watch, we have also seen the few who have stood tall and sometimes alone for the art and students of their watch, living up to the responsibility and obligations of true watchers of the art.

Thank you to the true watchers of the art for your inspiration and guidance during your watch.

“On a personal note, I would like to thank Mr. Burks, for his guidance. Showing what a true watcher should be, by standing tall and confirming the standard of a watcher while others fail on their watch.” – Mr. Tom Graves