A few days ago my wife and I held our Grand Opening for our new dojo in Cincinnati. An-Shu Stephen and Rumiko Hayes provided a wonderful opening ceremony for us, and during the ceremony Mr. Hayes reminded me of what my original plan had been when I moved to Ohio years ago. I was more than half way to black belt after a few years of long distance training, and planned to stay in Ohio for five years, or until I reached my 3rd degree black belt, whichever took longer, after which I would return to Washington State to start my own school. (Based on my current rank, I knew it was possible to earn 3rd degree in 4 1/2 to 5 years, though I was prepared for it to take longer, even if that meant I had to stay in Ohio for six years … or even, gasp, seven!)
I have now been living in Ohio for, ahem, going on 23 years now.
What I hadn’t been prepared for all those years ago when I thought five more years of training would be plenty, was the depth of learning to be found in To-Shin Do. It never seems to end! Of course I was lucky enough to be offered a position at the Dayton Quest Center working for Mr. Hayes which made it even harder to leave. There were so many new lessons every day, from internal lessons to physical lessons to running a business lessons that five years went by in a blink and I didn’t feel near ready enough to be on my own. (Not that one couldn’t at that level … if I hadn’t been working at the Hombu, perhaps I would have moved back home after five years). Even after running the Dayton Quest Center for years, I questioned whether I was ready. There was still so much to learn!
Mr. Hayes had, for his part, been hinting during my last couple of years at the Dayton Quest Center that it was perhaps indeed time for me to take the next step in my growth, time for a transition into a new set of lessons to be learned. That’s what this recent Grand Opening meant to me. Not only was it the official opening of my dojo, but it was an important mark that I’ve shifted into a new phase of life and of learning. The process of opening the Cincinnati dojo started just a couple weeks before the birth of my son, and it is perhaps no coincidence that when I finally felt I was coming to grips with that idea that ‘oh wow, I really am a father!’ my dojo was ready for the official Grand Opening. My life has indeed shifted to a new phase, and I believe it is important to celebrate those transitions.
I am excited to begin this new part of my own journey, excited to be close enough to the Dayton Quest Center to keep a close connection with the school I helped build, and excited to be close to my teacher to keep up with regular training. Most of all, I’m excited to walk into a dojo every day and help others reach their own goals and dreams, the same I my teacher helped me reached mine.
What about you? Will you have a ‘Grand Opening Event’ this year? Maybe not the start of a business, but some moment that marks the transition from one phase of life to another? We all have them, even in some small way, most every year. If we can pinpoint them, we can be even more certain to celebrate, to recognize that we’ve grown, and to make sure the ‘Grand Opening’ transitions into a grand year.