Welcome to Solara Speaks! For this month's segment, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Deddy Mansyur. Mr. Mansyur is a sixth degree black belt in Shotokan, martial art instructor, and philanthropist. He began his journey with martial arts at six years old in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he grew up. He was one of 12 children, and his dad was a businessman who was not very familiar with martial arts. Therefore, Deddy proceeded with this journey on his own, even building his own punching bag around the age of seven out of a rice bag he filled with sand. His determination has never faltered and continues to impact lives globally.

Deddy MansyurHe made his way to the United States at nineteen years old to attend college. He started out at Houston Baptist University, a private college, for his first two years. Having been used to the bustling life in Jakarta (where the population is ten million citizens), he decided to take his college career to a bigger school – University of Houston. There he earned his degree in Industrial Distribution Technology with a minor in Industrial Supervision. He would write articles for the Houston Chronicle as an expression of thought and perspective, and gave seminars on Taoism during his time in graduate school. Mr. Mansyur has practiced Taoism for about 20 years now, after having educated himself in Indonesia about three primary belief systems that carry a wealth of knowledge. Buddhism, he says, teaches us why humans struggle and how to raise oneself out of that struggle. Confucianism teaches us a code of ethics regarding laws of the world and respect for others. Finally, Taoism rather encompasses everything because it regards the balance in life of light and dark. In this way, one may better understand and appreciate happiness because he or she has experienced the darkness that occurs in this world.

Deddy MansyurDeddy has worked in a variety of fields, primarily in the Houston University office for seventeen years helping students bring their college goals into fruition. No matter where he has gone in life, Deddy has always taught and practiced martial arts. His message of “keeping your identity” has impacted lives everywhere. Whether he was teaching fellow employees, students, or the homeless, he has helped so many people through his teachings. Mr. Mansyur maintains that one should be “humble and hungry” and to “keep your energy level high.” He promotes the balance in life, inside and out. In this regard, it is easy to understand how, with this mindset, he has accomplished a multitude of charitable and philanthropic work. As someone who taught martial arts free of charge to homeless women and children for ten years, he has helped to bring determination and strong will power to those less fortunate. Deddy has also been an avid vegan, and tells me he feels much cleaner in body, mind, and spirit, his temperament is calmer and more relaxed, and moreover, he feels he has more energy. Of course, having gotten to know Deddy as the caring person he is, it is no surprise that he did not actually initially go vegan with these benefits in mind, but rather the positive impact it would have on animals. He is motivated to take action against cruelty and signs petitions supporting animal rights from all over the world.

Deddy MansyurAs a current member of the University of Houston Alumni Association, Deddy donates to the scholarship fund for students and allows the local National Karate-Do Federation (NKF) to use the university gym as a space for their training. Although his degree granted him success in a variety of fields, Mr. Mansyur's true passion has always been teaching martial arts. He has been a martial arts professor with the physical education department of San Jacinto College for thirty-four years now. He is the administrator and moderator for the Ikatan Pencak Silat and Karate Indonesia with 10,582 members, HoustonShotokanKarate.com, and the Original Dojo on Facebook. He is also a member of the Indonesia Karate Federation. He received his first degree in December of 1976 and trained and competed consistently for twenty-eight years. In 2004 he took his next degree testing under Master Kanazawa, who is the founder of the Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF) and a direct student of Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan. At that time, Deddy not only earned his second degree, or even third, but actually his fourth degree! Furthermore, ordinarily one must wait five years before being able to test for the fifth degree from the fourth. Deddy MansyurHowever, because of his dedication and skill, Mr. Mansyur earned his fifth degree two years later! Then he received his sixth degree four years later, as opposed to the normal six year wait. He has won a plethora of tournaments, including the one held by the Japan Karate Association (JKA) at the University of New Orleans nine years in a row! To elaborate, the JKA is the organization of Master Mikami's members. Master Mikami and Master Kanazawa tied in a competition many years ago. Therefore, this portrays a nice full-circle element to the on-going story of these two masters. Mr. Mansyur has competed in this tournament for thirty-three years.

I have been so enticed by Deddy's beautiful story and hope that it inspires you as it did me. If you enjoyed this article, keep a look out as Mr. Mansyur will soon be in the works to release a book to more extensively cover his amazing journey. To conclude, I will leave you with his words of wisdom: “Maintain balance,” and “opportunities arise when you broaden your horizons!”

Deddy Mansyur