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An Exciting Dream for our Dojo

Recently a friend and supporter of Honolulu Judo Club asked what my ultimate dream is for our club.

There are so many things that I would like to see accomplished. If you look at our dream map, you will see some exciting ideas and goals. However, one area that is near and dear to my heart is a program that we are calling Adapted Judo. This is a judo program for students who have special needs which we hope will be a support system to their families. While our judo classes are already designed to be inclusive, our goal is to establish a class specifically for families who want a place where their children can enjoy judo at a more relaxed pace, with enough assistants on the mat so that the parents have time to network with other parents and share their experiences.

The idea of a special needs program was birthed in my heart over 20 years ago when my high school coach, Sensei Leigh Nakamoto, shared that he would like to have a judo class for the special needs kids. Nakamoto Sensei was a fierce competitor and a successful competitive coach, but he also had a compassion for the less fortunate. Unfortunately, Nakamoto Sensei passed too soon and was unable to fulfill his dream during his lifetime. But for some reason that idea resonated in my heart as well, and I tucked the idea in the back of my mind while working to build Leeward Judo Club.

Many years have passed since the seed idea was planted in my heart. Today the seed is finally beginning to germinate. No longer is it just a good and noble idea, it has become a personal passion and calling. My family and I have experienced first hand the challenges of raising a special needs child. Not only is life difficult for the child, it also affects the whole family.

As I share my dream with others, many people have responded positively and feel that there is a need in the community for a program that will not only cater to the needs of the students but also minister to the parents and families who are struggling. At times the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual toll is daunting. For some families it will be a lifelong struggle to care for their loved one.

Beyond raising and training judo champions who may someday reach the highest heights of Olympic competition, I feel compelled to practice what the Bible calls pure religion–to help those who cannot care for themselves. As a believer in Christ, I want to use my unique gift and platform to make my life count for the benefit of others.

As of today we have established a time slot and secured sensei who are willing to help with the program. However, we feel we should not move forward until we have a resource person who is professionally trained to advise and guide us in our program as well as enough volunteers to work with each student. I believe that person and team of people will emerge at the right time. It’s exciting as we wait with faith to proceed with this decades-old dream.


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