25 Years Teaching Martial Arts to Kids

Dec 11, 2022
I want to thank everyone who have been a part of the dojo community and supporting the Jinenkan organization throughout 2022.
As we came out of 2020 and 2021, there has been so much stress, anxiety and tension in our world, and I hope that we did our part at the dojo, through the martial arts that we study, to help reduce some of that suffering.
As we move forward into 2023. I'm looking at expanding those opportunities, making them more available to people who want to bring  the traditional Japanese martial arts into their lives for enrichment and happiness.
Some years ago, Unsui Sensei was asked, “Why do people study these arts? What is the purpose?”
And without thought he replied, “To make a better person.”
Twenty five years ago, I had just opened my Dojo, and it was growing fast. A parent approached me one day after class and asked me, “How long do you intend on teaching kids? I want my son to grow up in a place like this”
As you can imagine, that was a wonderful compliment. I had no idea. At that time, I was engaged to be married, no real plans for a future, so I simply responded with, “at least until I’m fifty!” …
Which for me then, was a lifetime away.
That compliment stuck.
Since that time, I have taught over 2,400 children at the Dojo and close to 10,000 kids during my workshops, school talks and seminars around the country.
So, many kids did grow up at my Dojo.
They became Olympic and professional athletes, military officers, law enforcement professionals, pilots, published authors, popular musicians, school teachers, entrepreneurs and so much more to list. Some are now parents, and bring their children to the Dojo.
In this time, I’ve also grieved alongside parents who’s children were suddenly taken, and had to explain to the children of our Dojo what happened. Accidents, suicides and other incidents that no young person should have to face. We have felt the darkness, together.
Through it all, I have had the honor to stand in witness to hundreds of children as they grew into the people our world desperately needs. For that, I am proud.
This year I turned 50.
With this age came new reflections on my purpose, and the direction I am called to steer my life. What are my next steps as a student and where do my commitments to preserving this art lead me? The answers to these questions are clear, and thus require a renewed focus of my commitments within the Dojo.
As of 2023, I will no longer be teaching children here at the Yasuragi Dojo. As you can imagine, with so much involvement in our local community, (and being a father of four myself) this has not been an easy decision. However, this moment in my life marks the completion of my commitment to our community and the beginning of a new phase in my own study and obligations as a martial artist.
I wish to thank all of the parents who trusted me to help build their children’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. The privilege of being your child’s ‘Sensei’ will always be a sacred part of my life, as it was never lost on me the influence that role carried for each young student.
And the students … I wish to share my deepest respect to all of the young people who stuck-to-it, who kept going even though it was hard. And, to the 8 (out of 2,400!) young martial artists who made it all the way to getting a Black Belt from the Jinenkan Honbu Dojo, under my Sensei - you are the examples of commitment I will always recall and share when inspiration is needed. You are my reference for what we are all capable of accomplishing in life.
The next step in my personal journey as a martial artist is to focus my work on the refinement and internal practices of our art, with a deeper focus toward mindfulness, meditation and applying what Unsui Sensei refers to as ‘kakusei mushin’ the ideal mental state of martial arts.
As I move forward, I hope to share the knowledge I’ve gained over these past twenty five years teaching, to now serve those who suffer with losing control of their life's direction, meaning and purpose. Truly, what traditional martial arts are meant to give.
As I close this letter, it’s my sincere hope that I was able to fulfill my teacher’s expectation, and through doing so support each child in our Dojo, by helping to make each one a better person.
Adam Mitchell, 6th Dan
Jinenkan Yasuragi Dojo