Monica Villanueva holds the rank of Yodan at Kodenkan Academy of Martial Arts and is the 2019 AJJF National Convention Host. Kerry Sego, holds the rank of Yodan at Santa Clarita Valley Jujitsu.

One of  the many duties of the host school for national convention is to set the theme that will prevail over the weekend’s training. Team Kodenkan Midwest has chosen for the 71st Annual AJJF National Convention the theme “I Mua,” a Hawaiian term which means “to move forward” or “to move ahead” toward a goal. It expresses a commitment to support a feeling, an idea, or a cause. Our goal this weekend is multi-faceted jujitsu training: practicing our techniques to hone our craft, learning new ways to express the arts, meeting old (and making new) friends–all in an effort toward completing our character. We are moving forward in many ways.

Professor Okazaki’s dream was to move Danzan Ryu forward by establishing a dojo in every state. To date, the AJJF has dojos across nineteen states, and we plan on growing because our youth programs are flourishing in both judo and jujitsu. Professor Pat Browne’s dream was to bring the AJJF National Convention to Chicago—Team Kodenkan Midwest will see that his dream is accomplished as we move forward with accomplishing this goal as well.

During convention weekend we are all personally working on our own growth–our own movement forward.  For some that means going to our first convention, or traveling for the first time out of state to a martial arts event. With the excitement of training may come the trepidation and maybe even a little fear of moving out of our comfort zone, whether that means training away from our home mat, or with new partners, or with instructors who ask us to try a new way. We may even have to be pushed a little to move ahead. But remember, if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward, because there is no stasis.

So how do we move forward this weekend? How do we move ourselves ahead? Well, it might mean entering a contest to sharpen your skills, or sitting with new people at breakfast. You could take a new class, or ask for help to work on a technique that has flummoxed you in the past. Or attend a healing arts class that may spark your interest in massage–an integral part of what makes Danzan Ryu unique. Most importantly you can train, and train hard. If it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master, then each hour you spend on the mat counts toward your forward progress.  Many of us, even black belts, may feel that we have reached a plateau in our training. But plateaus are an essential element of mastery. Pushing through them is the only way out, so attend as many classes as you can–don’t sit on the side and watch.

If you begin the convention weekend of training with the idea of I Mua embedded in everything you do, you may be surprised to find that you end the weekend a changed person. With a decided “I am moving forward” idea, you will advance in your own martial arts, healing arts, and daily lives… with purpose.

Welcome to Chicago, and have fun!

Photo and Logo Credits: Su Gould


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