Today is a big one for us here in Gaithersburg. It was on this day, 8 years ago, that the first formal class of the Gaithersburg Dojo was held. While I'd taught some seminars and summer camps in the few years prior, it took time (and a lot of encouragement) to get classes started.
In the past 8 years, we've had classes in back yards, basements, public school gyms and all-purpose rooms, and a private school wrestling room. We've trained on tennis courts, in the woods, and in parking lots. The more I've trained with the dojo here, the more that I learn that the dojo is more than the physical space that you practice in...the dojo is wherever that place is that you're practicing. Practice kata in the kitchen? Well, for that time, your kitchen is your dojo.
The dojo, to me, is also the community of people you are training with. I wouldn't trade these people for anything. I appreciate everyone...every single person who has even tried a single class at our dojo. It takes courage to try something new and even more courage to stick with it.
Did you know that in the 8 years that our dojo has been around, we've had about 500 people try a class? Now, in our area, that's a pretty small number. I think that speaks to the challenge of our style...it take a certain kind of toughness (not just physical) to come try a class. But of that 500...how many do you think have gone through the ranks to earn a black belt? 100? Too high. 50 then? Still too high. Out of the 500 people who have visited the dojo, four have gone through the ranks to earn the rank of shodan. Again...I think something shows here about the difficulty of our style.
Those four on a regular basis welcome being presented with their weakness and accept the challenge of working through them. Yeah, they can all fight. Yes, they're physically strong. But that isn't what makes a warrior. Those four, and so many who are following the way, are forging strong convictions and spirits. THAT'S why I love running this dojo. Changing bodies...making weak people strong and strong people unstoppable, that's fun. But it's so much more fulfilling to see people change for the better.
So 4 out of 500 earned an awesome accomplishment...I can say that all 500...every person who came into the dojo...they all leave better people than when they came in.
Eight years of investing in people. Here's to eight more!