I could not help but notice two major trends--first, I and my generation of jujitsu people are rapidly becoming the "old professors" we use to gawk at when attending reunions and banquets decades ago. Secondly, it is clear that this particular organization, our organization, is in a state of atrophy. At the Saturday morning bow-in, where all the participating students come to see the introduction of high-ranking instructors participating in the weekend's activities, I counted only 26 non-black belt participants. The ratio of black belts to non-black belts was almost three-to-one. What a wonderful learning opportunity! Yet, this was sad to see. It was not uncommon for the Ryu to draw crowds of 200 to 300 participants at functions in the 90s.
The trend leaves me wondering what we, as instructors, can do to add value to our students' experiences at events like these. We have an important job to do, and an important message to convey. We have to find a way to show our students what they can gain from participating more fully.