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Thoughts from Our 2016 Captain

by Michael Heffner

Back from the Dojo's second trip to Japan (the first was in 2013). We had 17 on this "adventure" vs. 13 – numbers slightly favored the members of the Mount Kisco Dojo. The group collectively visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. (I caught a break with the weather and was able to make it to Okinawa with my smaller group.) In addition to being able to train at both the Hachioji Kenkojuku Dojo (where Sensei Okano is based), we were able to train in a separate location – thanks to an associate of Sensei Takahashi's. We got to view the future of Karate in Japan; many of the younger students have aspirations of competing in the 2020 Olympics (which will be held in Japan). Something new that was added to this year's agenda was early morning training (5:30 am) in Kyoto. The group found a local park and was able to get in 2 sessions of kata training before heading off to the day's activities. Consistent with the last trip, the schedule was packed during the day with guided tours. With the help of seasoned English-speaking guides, the group was able to get the essence of what to explore more deeply on their next trips to Japan (that is an expectation – all found enough to get us talking about the next trip in 2018…).

I am grateful to Sensei Takahashi for creating the opportunity for our students to deepen their understanding of Karate through the exploration of the country where the art originated. We have been fortunate (on both occasions) to have gathered a group where the chemistry made this a bonding experience that will remain with us for our entire lives. I happily filled in the second eye of my 2016 Daruma upon our return and look forward to starting a new one in 2018.

For those not familiar with Daruma…


Daruma is a traditional handmade Japanese wishing doll (or charmingly referred to as a "GOAL DOLL") that keeps us focused on achieving our goals! It is a centuries-old tradition from Japan that is positive, motivational, and fun. Here are the FIVE simple steps to using a Daruma doll:

  • STEP 1 - Decide on a SPECIFIC GOAL you are DETERMINED to ACHIEVE. There are five colors according to the type of goal.
  • STEP 2 - DRAW one of Daruma's blank eyes (either eye is OK) to signify your COMMITMENT to achieving your GOAL.
  • STEP 3 - Place Daruma somewhere VISIBLE in your home or office so that while he FOCUSES on your GOAL, you'll be reminded to do the SAME!
  • STEP 4 - Once you've achieved your goal, draw in Daruma's other eye to say THANK YOU!
  • STEP 5 - CONGRATULATIONS! Write the goal you achieved on the back of your Daruma! Time for your NEXT GOAL with a new Daruma! SUCCESS comes from SETTING GOALS!!