This post is part of a series of interviews by real people who are going after their heart’s song. Whether they are taking baby steps or giant leaps, they are living their dream. Every Thursday, our featured Dreamer will talk about their challenges, inspirations, and tips about how they juggle their life with what they love to do. Be inspired in your own life to go out there and lasso that dream of yours.
Kodokai Martial Arts
North Smithfield, RI
Dennis began martial arts training in 1978 as a U.S. Marine stationed on the island of Okinawa, Japan. His teacher was Seikichi Odo. He practiced karate for three decades eventualy achieving an 8th degree black belt. His school is one of depth, substance, authenticity and practicality.
Kimberly began her training in karate 14 years ago and currently holds a 4th degree black belt in Ryukyu Udundi. She also has a degree in education and enjoys teaching in the dojo and the classroom.
Can you tell us about your dream and what inspired you to go for it?
Our dream was to run our own business together, doing something that we would enjoy and that could benefit others in some way. Dennis had previously run a small martial arts school so opening our dojo in North Smithfield seemed like the perfect opportunity. We wanted to expose as many people as we could to the calm strength and self confidence that our art provides. Although there have been ups and downs to running a business, the enjoyment, confidence and success that our students have shared with us inspires us to continue.
What sort of challenges do you face and how do you get around them?
Our biggest challenge as Martial Arts teachers are helping people overcome their self imposed obstacles for success. This may be a physical obstacle but more often it is mental. Egos are typically an obstacle that people need to overcome. Sometimes, students are more interested in getting the next belt, instead of gaining the skills that the belt represents. Patience is something that both the teachers and the students need to nurture in order to get past these types of obstacles!
What do you love to do the most?
We love to watch students grow, whether it is in confidence, skills, patience, inner or outer strength or one of the many other ways people can grow in the martial arts. Everyone can succeed in some way at Kodokai and we love to provide the materials for them to do just that!
Who supports you in following your dream?
We have a lot of support from our students! Some help us financially, some help us in class, some participate in demonstrations with us, others help us advertise, etc. Our dojo is a community in itself and people help each other and the dojo in whatever way they can.
We also have received tremendous support from our masters in Japan. Odo sensei, Taira sensei, and Takamiyagi sensei have each visited our school and taught classes. Takamiyagi sensei has come five times! They have also helped us by teaching generously during training trips to their home, Okinawa, Japan.
Who inspires you?
Our teachers on Okinawa are a big inspiration to us. They train daily in the hot Okinawan climate and most are in their 70’s or 80’s! They have taught us that martial art training does not stop when you leave the dojo, or are tired, or old. Training is continuous, whether it is physical or the more difficult training of the mind.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
We would love to own our own building in a private and quiet setting. Having classes outside, in nature, would add to the benefits and enjoyment of the martial arts. A big reason many people sign up for classes is to relieve stress. We would like to offer quiet spaces for meditation, contemplation, and training.
What is the biggest tip you have for anyone looking to following their dreams?
Educate yourself, learn the skills that you’ll need and do it! Don’t get discouraged by people who will question your wisdom and would prefer that you took a more conventional route. Perservere! There will be obstacles, some that you antcipate and some will be surprises. Continue to educate yourself and grow.
If you or someone you know, is reaching for the stars (big or small) and loving it, I would be honored to have them featured here! Please note, this is not reserved for artists only, dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it be crafting, doing yoga, chasing kids, coupon clipping, or playing golf. If it’s a dream and someone is trying to get their hands on it, I want to hear from them!