August 25, 2019, Israel
I was speaking with my friend Doron just now on the phone regarding lessons from his son. We discussed ways to bring more young people into our Krav Maga program. I told him about one of my first instructor, Sensei R. Romero of the Oyama Kyokushin dojo in New York City.
Sensei Remero had a quite an effect on me. I recall words that changed my life, "our students pay their dojo fees before they pay their rent." This was an indication of the seriousness of the students at this dojo.
I was a new arrival in Brooklyn, New York and was searching all over the region for the best Karate school. I visited dozens of schools. For one reason or another I was unimpressed with most of them, the Oyama Kyokushin dojo caught my eye for many reasons.
One reason was the above mentioned total devotion to the training, the other, perhaps quite a contrast, was the open, friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Most Krav Maga schools today pride themselves on being "Bad Ass", although they do not really understand what this means. They have mistaken true "bad assness" with some Hollywood movie ideas of false machismo. Among the Japanese Kyokushin Karate is known as the toughest karate. I have mentioned this when meeting Japanese people and when they hear the word Kyokushin their eyes light up and they "take a step backwards", you have now earned their respect and gotten their attention. Their tone of voice changes to a more humble tone.
And yet the guys at the Oyama dojo were nothing but humble, warm, friendly and welcoming, and this is one of the reasons I chose to train there. They proved themselves on the mat. Outside the training they were a group of fun loving jovial guys.
I was at the dojo every morning for the 7:15 am class with Sensei Romero. I recall him stretching and I recall his words to me one day after class. He was 26 years old at the time and a third dan black belt. He told me that as a 6 year old he had received a Christmas gift; I do not recall from whom, or how many months of training, but it was a membership to the Karate dojo. The gift was several months or a year, of training. The young boy enrolled.
Twenty years later he was a respected Karate instructor and a truly formidable fighter; all because of this Christmas present.
I told Doron this story and said, think of all the gifts you have received during the course of your life; what good came of them? where are they now?
He responded that they are either in the garbage or just clutter gathering dust.
Let us give gifts that matter; gifts of knowledge, gifts of wisdom, gifts that can save people's lives.
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