We Are Changing Lives
by yonezato goyo
What is it that we are doing in Nippon Karatedo Genwakai America? What is the defining description of what we are doing and how best can we portray our activities? Some may say, we are preparing for the possibility of being faced with a self-defense situation. Others may say we are training to keep our bodies and minds tuned up and in good physical and mental condition. Still others may say we just like what we are doing because it feels good.
All of these reasons are plausible, and if they are true, why do some of us teach it to others? Some of the answers may be the desire to pass on what we have learned, the opportunity for taking a leadership position, or to satisfy a feeling of obligation. Again, these are all plausible answers. But if you take a step back and ask yourself why you are really doing this, you may come up with a surprising conclusion.
I started Karate in 1973, at Tracy’s Karate Studio when I enrolled in 5 introductory lessons for $17.95. I went through the lessons and was intrigued and interested however, each lesson turned into a sales pitch to get me to sign a contract. I was not ready to sign so I left and didn’t go back. The experience stayed in the back of my mind until I visited a new Karate Club being formed at Wright State University that same year. I liked the down-to-earth approach of the style and I was impressed by the intensity of the instructor, who had just returned after spending 2 years training in Japan. The instructor did not require contracts, just a small fee of $15.00 per month. It was exactly what I wanted, a no-nonsense style of self-defense that will keep me in shape and I enjoyed doing it.
Here we are in 2007 and I have a completely different view, and deeper understanding, of what it is we are doing in Nippon Karatedo Genwakai America, “We are changing lives.” “I want the weak, so I can make them strong.” “I want the poor in spirit so I can enrich their spirit.” “If you need to improve your situation, come to the dôjô and let’s just focus on improving your techniques.” I know it sounds grandiose and corny, but it is true. Ask any Sho Dan if Genwakai hasn’t changed their lives. Ask them why they want to teach Genwakai to others. For many, if not all, Genwakai has had a profound impact on their lives and they feel an obligation to give back what they have received. And what greater contribution can we make as human beings if not to serve others by helping them make an improvement in their lives? The guiding principal for all instructors of Nippon Karatedo Genwakai America should be,
“We are changing lives!”
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