Keith Fuller


Sukh Sensei,

As you know, I've been attempting to write this for a while, but figuring out what to say has not been easy. Words like "kindness," "generosity," and "community" are thrown around so easily these days they are almost devalued. Nonetheless, they are the best starting point I have to describe what the dojo did for me.

Technically, I am a part of many "communities." The people I work with, the people I go to classes with and the people I do research with are all a part of a community, in the broadest sense. Perhaps it is due to this broadness of the term, but to refer to the dojo family I have found as merely a community seems to bring it down far below what it deserves. The sense of belonging, trust, and understanding within the walls of the dojo far exceed anything I find outside of them. The dojo makes me want to try to raise the word "community" to a higher standard, and turn my groupings of convenience (like work and school) into something so much greater.

I have never felt like I belong anywhere quite as much as I do at the dojo. It's a unique experience to get hit in the face by someone, stand up, and bow to each other. (Perhaps even more odd is the conversation afterwards of "maybe try hitting me here instead, that would likely hurt more.") Maybe it is because of this uniqueness that such a strong social tie is formed. As you've said before, training creates an international bond, a community that transcends both our location and time in history.  No matter where I go in the coming years, I hope to firmly remain within such prestigious company.

You laid out a number of conditions to the kindness I received: Continue training. Be a moral individual. Help others. Make a difference in the world, in whatever way I am able. Not much time has yet passed, but I wanted you to know that these "commandments" are what I wake up thinking about. As you know, I just obtained the rank of San Kyu (finally). I may miss training far more than I would like, but I hope you never mistake that for a lack of desire or prioritization- life gets busy sometimes, and it's hard not to get overwhelmed. I try my best to be a good person. I've learned that it truly is a conscience act; I try to make decisions and respond to others in ways consistent with kindness, honesty, and empathy. I definitely haven't mastered this yet, but I've certainly been trying. As you also know, I've recently begun a research project involving great white sharks. While this particular project may not be what I end up doing throughout graduate school and beyond, I'd like to think that working to understand and conserve the natural world is a goal worthy of your prompt to make a difference.

I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude for those of you who stepped forward to help me, but if there is any way I might get close, it is through the above efforts. You have inspired me to be as good of a person as I can be, both through example and exhortation. I will never forget the feelings I went through that night, and I vow to never forget the promises I made in exchange.