Since the Fall of 2020 when our dojo participated in a letter-writing campaign to help get out the vote, Pacific JuJitsu Kai (PJK) has been engaging in quarterly service projects as we keep in mind Professor Okazaki’s admonishment to be “mindful of our obligations to the general public.” This year’s convention theme was Wa | Pono | Harmony which teaches us to value the “we” of interdependence over the “me” of independence. This framework is also a key component of any public health system. As jujitsuka, we must remember Professor Okazaki’s words about pursuing “service” as a pathway to the completion of character. To continue on our jujitsu journey, we must seek opportunities to engage in service, not just within our dojos but within our larger community. As this past year has certainly reminded us, we are all interconnected.
To that end, our dojo’s first service campaign of 2021 was focused on helping our unhoused neighbors, specifically in the larger Santa Monica-Venice community where PJK is located. At first, when mentioning that our dojo wanted to raise money to help create hygiene kits for the clinic, there was some polite confusion (why was a martial arts club working on a service project?), followed by questions and then a dawning understanding and a sense of respect. Over the course of a few months, our dojo fundraised, ordered supplies for, and put together 250 hygiene kits for the Venice Family Clinic (VFC) to distribute to their unhoused patients. These kits contained hygiene essentials, first aid kits, water and snacks.
The VFC, a medical facility established over fifty years ago, continues to provide health care to anyone who cannot afford it. Supporting its mission of fostering public health helped us contribute to community harmony and “pono” at the local level. For our project, some of us met in person to assemble the kits; others ordered the supplies and delivered the final kits. As with our DZR practice, this project required our dojo ohana to combine intention, physical activity, and follow through in order to maximize impact.
This was one of our earliest gatherings in person together following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in our area, and though we weren’t doing one of our normal favorite group events (jujitsu, massage, or eating), we all enjoyed being together again and wrapping up our service project. The VFC expressed their gratitude and told us they would immediately distribute the kits as part of their mobile outreach service.
The ability to share with others outside of the DZR world was an added benefit to our project and added another level of understanding to what we do on and off the mat for those outside our ohana. The project gave us many opportunities to talk about DZR to others outside of the jujitsu community as we worked on coordinating with the clinic and fundraising for the project. We look forward to keeping up with these service projects and will focus on a different aspect of service for each project.
Venice Family Clinic Logo Credit to Venice Family Clinic
Rainbow Image Credit Thanks to Zoltan Tasi @zoltantasi for making the first photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁