Dr. Darren Brenner
Feb, 14, 2008
As one of Sensei Kohn's first "special needs kids" I am honored to have the opportunity to write this testimonial on his behalf. At the age of eight, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS). My mother had witnessed me performing multiple physical mannerisms beyond my control. Given that this was twenty-four years ago, TS was a fledgling disorder not well known to the medical or general community. Initially, I was evaluated by multiple psychiatrists who felt that my symptoms were "all in my head," and assured my parents that the best thing for me would be to have me committed to a facility for intensive psychiatric treatment. Thankfully, my parents refused to heed that advice, but they were concerned about my ability to financially and socially support myself in the future.
When I turned eleven, my parents and I moved and it was extremely difficult to adjust to my new surroundings. Making new friends was difficult given that none of the kids my age had known me prior to my diagnosis, and they found it difficult to comprehend the symptoms inherent to TS. Furthermore, it became increasingly evident that my TS symptoms were compounded by the associated disorders Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was nicknamed "hyper" by my peers and my parents were repetitively told that I was always the first one done with my work and that my work was sloppy. My grades were mediocre at best.
Given the difficulties I was having, my parents began looking for another outlet. One of my best childhood friends had been training with Sensei Kohn for many years and his mother recommended that we consider his karate program. 1 started taking Karate a few weeks later and have been utilizing the lesions learned in his dojo ever since. Sensei Kohn would not allow me to use my limitations as an excuse. He immediately took me under his wing and within the first six months of my training had me enrolled in his advanced classes with brown and black belts. He did not see limitations, he only saw potential. I saw the opportunity to meet new friends who would accept and respect me, and the opportunity to focus my "energy" on a specific goal. What \ did not realize at the time was that I was getting much more out of the program. It was not long before my grades began to improve. My parents also noticed that my "tics" were better when I was in the dojo. The repetition, concentration, and pursuit of perfection demanded, expected, and achieved by Sensei Kohn are nothing short of remarkable.
I am writing this testimonial because I know that 1 would not Be the person I am today if I had never met Sensei Kohn. He took a young boy with an obscure disorder and taught him never to except his limitations and to understand that those who will be successful fail, but ultimately learn from and are motivated by their failures. These teachings have afforded me the honor of competing for the AAU/USA National Karate and the United States Maccabiah Teams winning 5 gold medals in international competition. 1 graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude from Washington University in St. Louis and
earned my medical degree from the University of Chicago. I am completing my fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of Michigan where I have served as chief fellow and will be accepting an invitation to join the faculty at Northwestern University this summer. I have no doubt that many if not ail of these successes would have been impossible without Sensei Kohn's. teachings. :
Many people would argue that the skills and lessons I have learned are inherent to the martial arts. I would not disagree with this assessment, but would argue that it takes a special teacher to nurture and hone these skills. Sensei Kohn is truly a teacher with a special gift to strengthen both the body and mind. It is with the utmost confidence that I support Sensei Kohn in his current endeavor and would recommend his program to anyone with the highest of confidence.
Darren M.Brenner, M.D. Chief Fellow
Departments of Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine University of Michigan Hosptials