This weekend we held our annual Midwest Seminar here in St. Louis. We also celebrated a special anniversary.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the St. Louis Kokondo dojo. We have been at our location, without interruption, longer than any school in our system.
In that time, we have seen hundreds of people come and go. It’s the nature of the beast. Individuals join for various reasons and leave the same way. If memory serves correct – and that is not guaranteed – thirteen students that began as white belts have promoted to at least Probationary Shodan in Karate over this time. Happily, six of them are still active in the system. Over the course of these thirty years, eight current or former Masters have visited the dojo at least once, as have numerous dans and kyus from locations around the country. This weekend’s seminar included Kokondoka from Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Connecticut, Washington, Ohio, Wisconsin and Texas.
The name “Kokondo” translates to “The Way of the Past and Present”. Reminiscing, these last thirty years prove just how aptly that name applies. We have seen the transition from Shihan Arel to Kaicho Howard. We have seen the gains and losses in the ranks of our Masters, our dojo around the world, black belts and students. We remember them fondly (most, anyway). Those of us that have been around over these three decades have memories of incredible workouts, seminar sessions that left us gasping for air and/or reaching for the ice bags, classes that ended in soaked gi and puddles of sweat left on the floor, aches, pains, bruises and demonstrating the “Kokondo Strut” for days after these events.
We are a product of all of these workouts. We are a product of Shihan, Kaicho, the Masters, Dans and Kyus we have worked with in the past. Our present is the result of these past experiences, people and places. Whether we have been a student of Kokondo/Jukido for multiple decades, a few years or only a handful of classes, we contribute to the history of our Association and to the future “present” of ourselves and everyone going forward that ties on a belt and joins us on the dojo floor.
Our job now, our goal, is to honor every one of these people and times. We do this by giving our very best in each class, when practicing every stance, when working our way through every kihon or kata. We not only contribute to our future “present” by working hard to be better every day, we contribute to that future “present” of every person that observes us. We are, whether we understand or acknowledge it, an example to those that are on the floor with us. We represent Kokondo. We contribute to the history of our system. That is a tremendous responsibility. We should not take it lightly.
Experience teaches us just how important it is to just keep going, to stay relaxed and to be focused in our work. That applies in the first class we take, it applies when we bow in tomorrow and it will apply another thirty years from now. We re-make our “present” with each new day. It shouldn’t be wasted.
Thank you to everybody that has been around for the last thirty years. It has been a tremendous pleasure.