Dear Parents, dear Students:
It's almost 2004 and already time to pause in order to remember and show our appreciation to those who have made our lives possible. This year, 2003, we were able to move into our permanent dojo. It has been a work of love and dedication into which a group of senior students have been pouring their skills, time, and resources.
This is also the year our teacher, Mochizuki (Kancho) Sensei, passed away. He was ninety-six. A direct student of Judo founder, Jigoro Kano, and Aikido founder, Morihei Ueshiba, he lived a life of daily study and training according to their teachings. I spent a total of nine years with him, and it was quite a challenge to keep up with his evolution. Sensei used to scold us whenever we acted mindlessly. He would say: "Think for yourself. Don't assume that something is true because a great person said it. You have to experience it by yourself!"
Kancho Sensei also often used gatherings such as having refreshments or meals together to teach. New Year's greetings were also an opportunity to teach some of the life principles he had learned from his teachers and developed on his own. This year I would like to continue Kancho Sensei's tradition with the following story:
At the Yoseikan Dojo in Shizuoka one afternoon, a very disturbed-looking mother brought her son during children's class. The boy looked shy and scared, and his mother had to drag him on the mat to meet Kancho Sensei. They exchanged a few words, and Kancho Sensei told me to help the boy integrate into the group. After the class, he said to me: "That boy has been bullied. You don't stop bullying by punishing the bullies. You stop it by educating the victims." Those words have been a subject for meditation to me since then. With experience and reflection, I have found that this lesson's deep meaning has been applying to other topics as well.
Once in a while, a parent tells me: "Can my child come on another day? I don't want him/her to be in the same class as so-and-so who doesn't listen and has been disturbing everybody!" My reply is: "I'm sure that you want your child to receive a good education for him/her to attend good schools and learn good skills in order to get and maintain a good job. How do you expect him/her to develop the skills to deal with the difficult people with whom he/she will be working? What do you think the consequences will be if he/she decides to call in sick or skip work in order to avoid meeting somebody he/she can't get along with? What about the difficult person who is thus encouraged to have his/her way? It's a social skill that one must start developing now. Later will be too late. It's only by getting into water that one can learn how to swim! Just like bullies may have been victims of bullying, difficult people often act as a result of what they learned or didn't learn as children."
That is all for this year! I will be spending the holidays with my family near Paris. The dojo will be closed from December 19 (Friday) to January 4 (Sunday). Classes will resume on Monday, January 5, 2004.
Kaoru Sensei and I wish you Happy Holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Thank you again for your continuous trust and support.
Patrick Augé Sensei, December 15, 2003