Dojo:   Old Bethpage   Yin yang dojo b   Mt. Kisco

The Dojo Community

by Marlena Kuhn

One of the worst things about moving is that you lose all your friends. You have to start from scratch and get people you have just met to like you in the midst of people they have known their whole lives. When my brother JP and I started karate at the Takahashi Karate Dojo, I hoped that I would make some friends and that people would not treat me as an outsider. I got my wish and more. I was welcomed with open arms into the dojo. I made friends and experienced something unique about the dojo. There were not cliques, but a tight-knit group of people who support and celebrate each other. I witnessed the strength and compassion of the dojo community, the first community that I truly belonged to in New York.

I love all of the events that the dojo hosts. The children’s tournaments are not competitive; instead they are fun. During them, I feel like I am sparring with a close friend, instead of fighting an enemy. The dojo holiday parties are very enjoyable, and they bind the dojo community together through the shared experience. I had the pleasure of watching the tea ceremony at the dojo. I felt privileged to witness that special event, and I knew that I was with people who wanted me to be there. The support that the dojo gives is unbelievable. I am always cheered on there and I feel comfortable to be myself. The dojo is home to close relationships with people who really care about one another. For example, when my father received good results from a scary medical test last year, Sensei Lisa was the second person my mother texted with the happy news. I feel thankful to be part of the dojo community. I think that the dojo’s going away parties are extremely special. They tell the people leaving that they always will be part of the dojo community. The Japanese word for family (kazoku/家族) roughly translates to home tribe. The dojo is a second home to me, and although we all are different ages, come from different places, and speak different first languages, we are a tribe. I know that I always will be part of the Takahashi Karate Dojo family.