To Those Who So Often Put Others First (Happy Mother’s Day)

The essence of motherliness is to do for others with a spirit of love, generosity, and protection.

When we first opened Kogen Dojo, one of the primary considerations was how to best serve the female members of our community, especially the mothers to our community’s children. For context, all three of the founders of Kogen are men, but we are also sons, husbands (or have been at one time), and fathers to daughters. As such, we decided it would be best to consult with a woman who was not only a mother and Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, but who also taught women’s self-defense classes at our affiliate headquarters.

Our discussions included questions about how to attract more women to martial arts, what to teach in women’s-only classes, and some of the barriers women faced in wanting to try martial arts, even if simply for self-defense. When the discussion turned to the subject of scheduling, Jen, the woman with whom we were consulting, said something that struck me and continues to be food for thought for me to this day. She said, “It is difficult for a mother to commit to self-defense classes because she will always put the needs of her family ahead of her own.”

She went on to explain that, even if a mother committed to and paid for a regularly scheduled class for herself, if a scheduling conflict arose wherein she had to choose between her own activity and some activity or event for her family, she would almost always put her family’s needs ahead of her own. I am reminded of this sentiment often when I think about what it means for a woman to be a mother, what it means for a person to be so loving and so generous as to regularly sacrifice her needs and her interests in order to care for, nurture, and protect her loved ones. I am also reminded that those who do so much for others also deserve the same from us.

Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day!


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

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

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted. Artwork by Ana.

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