Kokua for Japan was a benefit concert held in Honolulu back on April 10 to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis. The event featured such performers as Willie Nelson, Mick Fleetwood, Michael McDonald, Hawaiian born and raised Jack Johnson, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and many local Hawaiian artists.
While watching the live broadcast of the concert online that lazy Sunday evening, my wife and I discussed what a closely-knit community of Aikido dojo there are throughout New Jersey and wondered whether a successful benefit seminar could be pulled off featuring as many of NJ’s dojo cho as possible.
That week I sent an email out to all NJ chief instructors listed in the USAF dojo directory asking who’d be interested and if so, when available. Amazingly, almost everyone responded and pretty much unanimously settled on the date of June 12. Huge and deep gratitude to Rick Stickles, Skip Chapman, Eran Vardi, Karen DePaola, Jerry Zimmerman, Michael McNally, Alex Vieira, Sergio Cuevas and James Shaffer in joining me to help make the benefit seminar the great triumph it was! All instructors selflessly donated their time and talent to come together through shared practice for the common purpose of aiding in Japan’s recovery and renewal.
The seminar ran beautifully with classes straight through for 10 hours. We wanted to create the feel of a benefit concert or dance marathon and have all participants be responsible for their own breaks as well as feel free to come on and off the mat as needed. And of course food and refreshments were on hand throughout the day.
A big Domo Arigato-gozaimasu to the Aikikai Foundation at Hombu Dojo for extending for us the deadline for receiving donations so that via the USAF we could make our contribution from the seminar’s proceeds.
Also, thanks to Aikido of Red Bank’s Emmy Award-winning dojo cinematographer and photographer Kris Schoenleber for donating his services by taking video and stills all day, producing a great DVD, the proceeds of which we are continuing to send to the Japanese Red Cross as orders continue. To view the photos, please visit our facebook page. If you are interested in ordering a copy, you may do so by contacting Kris through his own website http://www.kgsphoto.printroom.com/
Omedetou again to all the instructors involved for their efforts in spreading our own Aloha to our extended Japanese Family!