Career and Transition
Upon his return from Japan just before Christmas 1973, Pellman Shihan embarked on his business career and the next phase of his training in budō. In January 1974 he started work as a Bookkeeper I in the accounting department of Mission Van & Storage Co., Inc., a local moving and storage firm in Lemon Grove, California. To balance his academic studies in the field of marketing, his employer had him work a year in the accounting department, then a year in the administrative offices preparing shipment documentation, processing loss and damage claims, and preparing regulatory reports to the California Public Utilities Commission, Interstate Commerce Commission, US Department of Transportation, Department of Defence, Labour Department, and other agencies, before promoting him to manager of the accounting department in 1976. After successfully transitioning the company from manually kept records to a Qantel 1200 mini-computer-based accounting system in the summer of 1976, Pellman was promoted to Comptroller and made responsible for both the accounting and administrative functions of the company in 1977. In 1978, he was elected to the company's board of directors and made Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. Under his direction, the company expanded from two locations (Lemon Grove and Oceanside) to a global network of offices and warehouses in more than 30 countries. But 1985 would bring a major transition.
Actually, three major transitions occurred in 1985. In May, Pellman brokered the sale of Mission Van & Storage to a conglomerate. In July his first of three children was born, and in November, Master Lee succumbed to liver cancer. These events produced significant changes in Pellman Shihan's career, budō training, and family life. After working himself out of a job, Pellman became a partner in a military contracting company known as MAPAC, where he worked for the next ten years providing logistical support to the US Department of Defense. Having a family to support drastically changed his priorities, as well. And with the death of his primary budō instructor, his training underwent a significant change, too.
Several of Master Lee's students broke away from his organisation shortly after his death, forming their own dojang. Michael Conniry Sabumnim, who had been operating Master Lee's branch dojang in El Cajon, California since 1970, continued doing so. The main dojang on Convoy Street soon closed, because the number of students remaining after Tim Britt, Lloyd Francis, Daniel Nolan, and others started their dojang weren't generating enough income to keep it open. In 1986 Pellman Shihan began training in Tang Soo Do under Michael Conniry at the El Cajon dojang.
In 1988, Shimabukuro Masayuki Hanshi began teaching
Musō Jikiden Eishin-Ryū
iaijutsu at Conniry Sabumnim's dojang
on Saturdays, and Pellman Shihan took his first step
toward realising his dream to train in the arts of the
samurai. He could not afford an iaitō, so
he began his training using his uncle's gendaitō (modern
manufactured) shinken (live sword). At
first, Shimabukuro Hanshi was nervous about a beginner
swinging a sharp sword in class, but eventually he came
to accept it. What neither of them suspected during those
first few months was that a life-long bond was being
forged between the two.