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In the Spring of 2007, I found myself standing in an empty 3300 square foot space with a cement floor and 4 long walls. It had been a busy year so far. A few months earlier I had just sold my telecommunications company that I had built over a ten year period from nothing to three locations and 20 employees. We had just sold our house in Vancouver and we were in the process of building our new house in Ottawa. As a lifelong martial artist who at one point or another was a student in seven different martial arts, trained all over the world and competed all over North America, I had a dream. I had a dream to create a training facility that was modern, clean, bright and had the best equipment and training in Ottawa. A place people could call home and a place where everyone felt like family. The dream was to provide a facility and environment where the training would inspire positive change in the lives of each one of our students and have a positive impact on their families and the communities they lived in. It was this dream that I decided to spend the rest of my life pursuing and sharing with others.
It wasn't easy. I'd forgotten how much work a new startup can be. Whether it was when we first opened 10 years ago or when we completed our recent renovations, our staff and many of our students laboured away day and night to build the facility you now train in. One student at a time we built Zen to what it is today.
Now many years later we continue to push each other every day to become better martial artists and people. We challenge each other to grow, and we inspire each other to be the best that we can be mentally, physically, and spiritually. All of you inspire me every day to become the best person and martial artist that I can be. Through your participation at Zen you have changed yourself and your training partners for the better as martial artists and as human beings. It makes me very proud to see the changes and growth in each one of you.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Let your every moment be an example of what you teach and counsel. Let your every action be a reflection of your beliefs and let your every word be reflective of your own thoughts.
For those of you just starting this new voyage, remember that the commitment for change has no days off, does not allow for excuses and does not allow for pardons. Excellence is an art won by training and good habits. We are what we repeatedly do.
Whether your training has helped you lose weight, overcome some bad habits, develop confidence, discipline, focus, physical strength, increased flexibility or improved balance, you have and will continue to change for the better. Some of us have achieved our brown belts in karate, our blue belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, our Level II Muay Thai prajiet, completed our first ring fight or even won a championship title. Through it all, we continue to share good times, disappointments, sometimes injuries, but always progress.
Many years later Zen has grown into a family of lifelong friends. It has become that wonderful world that inspires people to new heights. Zen has become a place where dreams can and do happen. Thank you for letting Zen help bridge the gap between your dreams and achieving personal greatness.
David Dash - Founder and Owner