Some Small Part of What Matters Most

One of the defining moments for me, when it became very clear that we were building something truly special at Kogen Dojo, was the day that one of our instructors, now a black belt, brought his wife and two daughters in to train. I had known this man for several years and had shared the mats with him many times, but I had never, until this point, met his family.

The fact that this man who I looked up to and respected would entrust us with the care and well-being of his family meant more to me than any financial milestone we had reached at that point. Perhaps this is why I will never be a great businessman. It is the lives we touch that bring me the most joy and the most return on my investment. It is the community that has grown up around us that makes me want to continue.

This same man is now one of our lead instructors and his two little girls are some of our best students. It is not only them, however. At some point or another, nearly every instructor at our school has brought his or her family in either to try a class, to train regularly, or just to show off where they teach and train themselves. We are all extremely different people with our own goals and aspirations, but we all want what is best for our families. That there are those who consider what we have built to be some small part of that makes it all worthwhile to me.

 Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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