I’m always amazed how we can have a profound impact on someone and not ever know it. As a teacher, we all know individuals we’ve had life-changing effects on, but there are countless more names and faces who we barely knew, but we had an impact on. There are students from other dojos, or teachers from other dojos, who have told me that the way I carry myself inspired them to be better people. Or even someone at the local supermarket or Starbucks who has noticed the etiquette and character that my students have shown while wearing our logo there, inspired them to be better by our example.

A great story is from my first day. I remember I arrived for my first class so nervous I was about to leave, and forget the whole thing. Suddenly a man in his 20’s approached me, Katsumi Hiroko, who was a blue belt visiting the US from Japan on a school visa. He introduced himself to me, and proceeded to show me around the school, showed me how to tie my belt, and simply made me feel welcome at the school. When I was an orange belt, his visa expired and he moved back to Japan.
I’m sure if I were to find Katsumi on Facebook or wherever (I’ve tried, unsuccessfully), he wouldn’t remember me, or if he did, not much beyond some random classmate. But I’ve never forgotten him, and in fact if it weren’t for him, I doubt I would have stuck with the martial arts as long as I have, or be doing what I’m doing for a living. He can’t have any idea of the impact he’s had on my life, and in turn, the life of my students, and students of mine who have gone on to enjoy success as teachers of their own schools, or successes outside the martial arts that they attribute to their lessons they’ve learned here at USSD.

The question I often pose to our students is to think of people whose lives they’ve impacted, and had no idea about. Of course, it’s an impossible question to answer, but rather it’s a reminder to live your life in a way where you’re aware that you may be impacting that person’s life in such a powerful way, they’ll in turn impact other people’s lives as well.

I often say I have no goals of changing the world, but rather my little corner of it. I figure this is a pretty good start…