Whew! What a month!
I am very glad to report that our fundraiser has been a complete success! THANK YOU to everyone for all your terrific support! The bake sale alone raised $903! Congratulations, Iullia, and her wonderful family for organizing this, and to all the volunteers who came out to help! Another big thank you goes out to Paul Rittenhouse for getting the dojo established in social media, which provided a critical point of communication and brought our story out into a much wider world than I could have hoped. As a result, our GoFundMe campaign met the online goal of $3,000 in just over two weeks. And a special thank you to Jeb Livingood who has been instrumental in every aspect of the development drive.
One of the big side effects of diving into social media for me has been the inundation of news and stories from the small and trivial amusing, like this video about a kitten investigating ducklings, to the shocking events in McKinney, TX and Charleston, SC. However, just when it seemed like things could not get any crazier and more distressing, our country has seen a tremendous upsurge of goodwill and sanity,from recognizing that the Confederate flag needs to come down, to the wonderful news this week about the Supreme Court rulings upholding the Affordable Care Act, and that the 14th Amendment protects equal marriage rights for all American Citizens.
In the context of such dramatic stories, the troubles of one little dojo doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, except for this point.
When we get together to practice judo, we do so to make ourselves better, little by little, day by day. We work hard, and sweat, and challenge ourselves and each other to perfect skills, not in the hope that we will use them in earnest, but because we see that the effort of perfection is a worthy endeavor in itself, and that as we work together, the benefit we each derive from it improves us all along the way.
So, it seems particularly timely that, when we set out to raise the money to keep our dojo going, we didn’t do so just for ourselves, we took it as an opportunity to reach out to the community and make judo accessible to kids who otherwise would never be able to afford membership. This is working out very well; I am very happy to announce that we already have several strong candidates doing their trial run, and they are having a great time! In essence, we have taken a huge challenge and turned it into a big opportunity. This is good judo.
However, as good as that point is, it’s critically important to recognize that, by expanding opportunities to the community, we are also giving ourselves the chance to grow, to make new connections, and to make ourselves better through the study of judo as we learn how to help others learn. It’s already begun. I’m already learning new things about kids, teaching, and judo just in this week.
So, in our small way, I feel certain that we are advancing the story of our nation in just the way it most needs to grow. We’ll never make the news, but we are making the kinds of connections that matter in the lives of everyone connected to SSJ Judo. During this fundraiser I’ve heard from many people over the last few weeks who have traveled far and wide, who have said how much our dojo means to them, and to each of them I have the same reply; this is their judo home, and they will always have a place in it. It is better for every person who has made it theirs.
And now, we’re finding ways to welcome even more people in. By welcoming others, we are improving ourselves That is judo. That is Jita Kyoei. You are doing this, and I am deeply grateful.