Seattle Dojo Members, Friends and Family:
Please join us tomorrow (Tuesday, August 3) evening to celebrate our one-year anniversary since we started our daily online training sessions. As always, we’ll meet at 7:00 pm to do our usual squats, pushups, and uchikomi, after which we’ll reminisce a bit about the last year and recognize the many people who have given hundreds of hours to keep our community connected and thriving, whatever the circumstances.
Even if you have been unable to attend regularly, please find time to drop in tomorrow, if possible:
When we started on August 3 of last year, our intention was to provide a short, casual workout to keep our members connected, to keep ourselves moving and thinking about judo until the pandemic blew over. Unsure of how long it would be until we would be able to return to the dojo, we set out without a road map, meeting daily for 20-30 minutes, and a bit longer for formal sessions on Mondays and Thursdays.
For many of us, it soon became a part of our regular routine. In our house, we are on autopilot to set up the computer and be ready for judo after dinner every night. No one can make it to every session, and some can only pop in now and again, but I’m proud to say that our virtual doors have been open every single night for the past year. Even on holidays ‒ Thanksgiving, Christmas, whenever ‒ there are always at least a few people to log in and at least share a few laughs over some jokes with their judo brothers and sisters.
I have been deeply moved by the enthusiasm of our members to keep this effort going. Our instructors have made it a priority to show up and share their judo knowledge and experience. Special thanks to Sensei Karen for being there from the beginning, and to Sensei Pepper, Sensei Sophal, Sensei Sam, Sensei Chanae, and Paul for your tireless commitment to this project. Our students have also stepped up and showed leadership beyond their years, often taking the reins and leading the workouts themselves. I won’t be able to list everyone, but I would especially like to recognize Diego, Jayden, Natalie, Owen, Mae, Erkhes, and Grayson and Owen for their remarkable dedication and ever positive attitudes.
Our daily sessions have led to a couple of other projects that have, in turn, proved durable over the months. In January, we began our weekly Japanese for Judoka class for people looking to learn some Japanese language, along with our Japanese Science Club for native/advanced speakers. These classes are small but are still going strong, and will continue as long as there is interest.
Separately, we took on a fun side project of learning to count and to say a few words in as many languages as possible during our regular sessions. Over the course of several months, one person stepped up each week to teach us their respective language. Thanks to these efforts, our regular attendees can now count in English, Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Tagalog, Polish, Hungarian, and Mandarin!
We have also begun taking to the outdoors with our Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training program. Once per week, we get up early and go running through the woods, doing pushups and uchikomi, and generally goofing off together over some delicious snacks at the park. This program continues to gain momentum as we look forward to Session 10 this weekend.
Now, our situation is different from when we started last year. As we make significant strides against the pandemic, people are able to have more and more in-person contact with their friends, leading to a somewhat diminished need for our online sessions. This is a good thing. The project has served its purpose. We are also inching closer and closer to reopening the dojo for in-person training in some limited capacity. Therefore, starting this week, we will cut our schedule back to two days a week (7:00 pm Mondays and Thursdays) of formal online workouts. We will keep the channel open on off-days for anyone who wants to continue to work out as we have thus far. We will also continue our Japanese classes on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, and our in-person outdoor training on the weekends.
The pandemic, and our response to it, are now a part of our dojo’s long history. I am grateful to all of you who have insisted on making the most of our situation, always finding the silver lining. Whether you have showed up one day or 365 days for these activities, or even just supported us in spirit, you have played a meaningful role in keeping our dojo alive and keeping our family together.
See you all tomorrow,