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I am sure that it is not news to anyone that the world is facing one hell of a recession right now. Those who have been on the economic fringes are starting to fall over the edge into poverty. Those who live in poverty are seeing the little help afforded them reduced. It is winter in the northern hemisphere now and the coldest days are still ahead. In the south, where it is summer this recession is no picnic either.  People need help.

Those of us who can afford the club fees, rent, equipment, and perhaps most important of all-the time, to spend engaged in an elected activity (martial arts) should count ourselves among the world’s fortunate. While we may not be able to do a lot as individuals we can coordinate the help we are able to offer with others in order to have a bigger impact.

People living in poverty (especially now) could sure use some help so here is an idea I would like to offer for your consideration:

Whether or not your group usually has a Special New Years Training session consider scheduling one and use it as an opportunity to host a food drive. Simply collect canned food and other non-perishable food items in lieu of a floor fee for the event (we have been doing this here in Missouri for years and we usually recommend students each bring in at least one grocery bag of food). Donate these  to a local food bank, mission, or other organization that gets food to those who need it. Food pantries typically experience a dip in donations after the first of the year so kagami biraki type celebrations are fortuitously timed.

It would be great to scan through martial arts web sites in a few weeks and see photos of piles of food being donated (besides haven’t we all seen enough side kick pics for a while?).

US residents can find a food bank in their area by clicking Here.  It would be nice if readers familiar with similar programs in other countries could post contact suggestions in comments.

10/8/09 Note: Earth-Gi is on indefinite hiatus due to the shifts in the economy and resulting increase of the cost of importing hemp fabric.

The folks over at Earth-Gi have been busy with a new project: a 100% Organic Cotton peroxide whitened gi. What’s the big deal about unbleached organic cotton? Cotton production tends to involve large amounts of toxic pesticides that can sicken field workers; conventional whitening with bleach is environmentally destructive and weakens natural fabrics like cotton. Based on our experiences with the hemp version of Earth-gi, I recommend this manufacturer to anyone who’s interested in improving their karate and their planet. See the links below for more information:

New Unbleached Cotton Gi

Check out our review of their hemp gi here

Why does bleached vs/ unbleached, organic vs. chemical matter? Find out here.

"Try to see yourself as you truly are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others. As a karateka you will of course often watch others practice. When you do and you see strong points in the performance of others, try to incorporate them into your own technique. At the same time, if the trainee you are watching seems to be doing less than his best ask yourself whether you too may not be failing to practice with diligence. Each of us has good qualities and bad; the wise man seeks to emulate the good he perceives in others and avoid the bad."
Funakoshi Gichin


December 2008
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