Learning From The Janitor

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Jan 15th, 2009

Any company is a reflection of the values of its founders. The Martial Arts Learning Community (The MALC) was the creation of a diverse group of martial artists who believe that learning can and should occur anytime and anywhere. More importantly, we believe that knowledge and wisdom cannot be the sole possession of any elite --- both are part of our human heritage.

At The MALC, we believe in learning from:

  1. Our mistakes
  2. Mentors, coaches, contemporaries, associates, and clients
  3. Lessons, classes, seminars, workshops
  4. Reading, discussion, various media
  5. Our successes
  6. Everybody! --- including the janitor!

Being able to learn from the knowledge and experience of anyone is the essence of a Learning Community. I reference this idea of being able to learn from the janitor, in part, to offer a short history lesson.

Gichin Funakoshi has been called the Father of Modern Karate. Between 1917 and 1922 Funakoshi sensei, along with Kenwa Mabuni sensei, gave 3 demonstrations of Okinawan karate in Japan. The last of these demonstrations was a command performance for the emperor himself. Funakoshi sensei decided to move to Japan from his home in Okinawa in 1922. He stayed with other Okinawans in the Okinawa Prefecture student's dormitory at Suidobata, Tokyo, living in a small room near the dormitory entrance. Unable to make his living teaching school as he had in Okinawa, Funakoshi would clean the dormitory rooms during the day while the students attended classes leaving his nights free to teach karate.

I would like to offer a special thank you to my first kenpo teacher, Mr. Keith See, for passing on this inspirational story. It has inspired me to accept lessons unconcerned as to where they came from and without bias or prejudice.

"To solve any problem, here are three questions to ask yourself.
First, what could I do?
Second, what could I read?
Third, who could I ask?"

From Jim Rohn --- American motivational author/speaker


Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

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