I can write a book about why I stayed.
The short answer is I fell in love with everything about Japan: the people, the culture and without a doubt, the martial arts. The training and code (Bushido) resonated with me then and still does.

Authors from around the world have spent decades trying to decode and translate the seemingly abstract set of moral principles that governed the behavior of the most disciplined and dedicated warriors on the planet at the time. Like me, studying the code left them with more questions than answers. However, after incessant practice and study over several years, I finally gained a little clarity.

The code, at least in part, is about selflessness. The life of a samurai was one of discipline and study to develop whatever skills were necessary to achieve their primary objective, which at the time, was to fight for those who could not fight for themselves. If it meant sacrificing one’s life to achieve the objective, then the warrior did it without hesitation or regret. Studying and understanding that one point alone could have easily kept me in Japan for several years, but, for me, it was even more personal than that. I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly understand and engage in the authentic teachings of bushido, as well as samurai traditions and training, known to few outside Japan because my teacher was samurai.

It wasn’t long before I was spending the majority of my time every day with him. He was, and still is, an individual who wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice his life for another. It was my first exposure to that level of discipline, dedication to a single purpose and courage. It’s what I had wanted to adopt into my life for as far back as I can remember, and once I found it, I knew exactly where I belonged. I couldn’t possibly live anywhere else until I was able to adopt the code successfully into every aspect of my life.

As I became more proficient with the language, my understanding of their amazing culture and traditions grew. The Japanese culture is as rich in history as it is in tradition. As a whole, Japanese people are very cordial, highly educated and extremely kind people. But, as a result of their inherent modesty, the strength and loyalty of the Japanese people goes largely unnoticed. I was fortunate to learn early on that I had friends in my life that would stand by me anytime, for any reason, for life. The value of my experience was truly immeasurable because of the people I spent my time with.