LANGDON – Tammy phones and says, “Oh, I know this is last minute” (she has a lot on her mind today obviously), “but the Karma Kids are presenting a play tonight and would love to have you stop by the dojo to see our play”. “Dojo you say? I’ll be there”. (I’m curious, I don’t know what a dojo is). She gives me the address in Langdon.
Wikipedia defines: a dojo (道場 dōjō?) is a Japanese term which literally means “place of the way”. Initially, dōjōs were an adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.
I pull up and park out front of a strip mall on Centre Street. In I go and introduce myself a mere 20 minutes before show time. The kids are having a last minute rehearsal just to polish up a few lines of the play they adapted from a book called “I Live in the Ocean” by Susanna Duft. The Karma Kids called their play “A Day in the life of an ocean” which featured the devastation on dolphin captivity. So now you/I know what a dojo is, if you didn’t know before, and now you should know what a Karma Kid is. Tammy Thankachen, a Sandan (3rd degree black belt) in Goju Karate and a Shodan (1st degree black belt) in Kobudo herself says ” The Karate program is for kids and is designed to teach them self-control, positive use of energy, self defense, respect, confidence and learn a beautiful classical martial art”. She adds ”So through Karate we go beyond the usual Karate training, we also teach the kids that respect is much bigger than what they expect it to be”. “We try and teach them as Martial Artists that it is good to do wonderful things, and make a positive impact on things, such as taking care of the Earth and the animals on it”. “Also, to find an issue that you believe in and stand up for it, find a voice and make a difference”. And fundraising for the issues they stand up for is what the play was all about. This was not the first of such fundraising events; in fact, they have contributed more than $1300 the two years previous of which $500 went to the Boys and Girls Club in Slave Lake Alberta. No, these kids and the programs do much more than just kicking and punching in their Karate class, their lives are enriched and they become stronger physically, mentally and spiritually. Paying it forward will make the world a better place. The $436 raised from the play will go directly to The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Past fundraising activities include raising awareness of our decreasing Grizzly Bear Population by sending 1000 individual post cards to Premier Ed Stelmach. In addition, there was $300 raised towards the habitat reclamation for our Grizzlies. Last year they raised awareness and raised money for the Harp Seals (Kids4seals) to stop the Canadian Seal Hunt. Impressed yet? You bet. But wait, there’s more; they’ve helped out with numerous food banks, locally and in Calgary. They’ve helped out at the Humane Society by getting donations of blankets and toys and other necessities for the animals. They are truly a phenomenal group of kids.