Sun Dragon will be celebrating our 33rd anniversary this summer. It's hard to believe. As I was thinking this morning about what I wanted to write about today, the themes that kept running through my head were community, safe spaces, and sacrifice. The interaction of all three things is what makes Sun Dragon so resilient. No community is perfect, no space is completely safe, and not every sacrifice is reciprocated, but it's the interaction of these three things that helps keep us going.
Our community is only as strong as the bond we share. We've come to Sun Dragon for different reasons over the years, but it's the commitment to work together, to support each other, and to build up rather than tear down that makes our community strong.
Sun Dragon was created with the goal of creating a safe space for women to train in the martial arts at a time when it wasn't common for women martial artists to be in positions of leadership and abuse of power in dojos was common and often expected. Those problems still exist within the martial arts world, but it's become less rare to find a dojo where women are respected and treated as equals than it used to be. Over time, our goal has gradually shifted from being focused on women finding a safe space to train to being a place where everyone can train, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, or any other characteristic that often leads to discrimination. And now, over the last couple of years, health safety has become a priority, as we particularly want to make sure that those who are immunocompromised, or who have family members in such a situation, can train with as little risk as possible.
It's the sacrifice that makes all that possible. We often sacrifice ego and pride in our training, not only for the safety of others, but also so that we can grow as individuals. We sacrifice personal comforts, wearing masks, having the doors open even when it's cold, giving up the chance to train with partners, agreeing to be vaccinated, all in order to make training as safe as possible for ourselves and the most vulnerable among us. Isolated sacrifice is martyrdom, but reciprocated sacrifice bonds a community together. Shared sacrifice builds trust and shows respect, two of the cornerstones of holistic martial arts training.
I'm so proud of the way our people have come together over the past two years. Senpai Paul and I were talking the other night about ritual and how that binds people together and one of the sad aspects of the pandemic years is that we've had to step back from some of the group rituals, shared time over food, and brief moments of interaction in the dojo when we can catch up, smile at each other, commiserate with each other. And while I miss so much of that, I think we've more than made up for it in how we've taken care of each other and made sure that our community is strong, our space is as safe as possible for all, and we appreciate both the burden and benefits of shared sacrifice. I often think about how our training and practice isn't the same as it was a couple of years ago, but we've changed to meet the need of the moment and I think that has helped all of us navigate the last two years.
Thanks and a mighty OSU! to you all.