In January, Gracie Barra Glendale hosted a “Harae” at their academy. A “Harae” is the general term for rituals of purification in Shinto. GB Glendale’s Robert Hill organized a Harae to cleanse the academy and to introduce students to a traditional Buddhist ritual.
Reverend Shumyo Kojima from the Zenshuji Soto Mission in Los Angeles executed the blessing. “Reverend Kojima set up his stand in front of the Shomen, which had a 120-year-old Japanese scroll on it, along with the pictures of Master Carlos Gracie Sr. and Master Carlos Gracie, Jr.,” Hill says, “Students, professors, and visitors were all kneeling on the Dojo as Reverend Kojima sang a prayer. He then began the incense offering. The students followed Reverend Kojima by coming up to the altar, offering a pinch of incense and burning it on the coal. Kojima Sensei then gave his interpretation of the scroll and a simple Zen story related to bringing unity into our daily practice and how we apply what we learn to our daily life.”
Hill says although the Zen Buddhist blessing occurs more in traditional Japanese dojos, Gracie Barra Glendale wanted to honor the roots of Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu. Professors Raul Montolfo and Hill welcomed many new visitors to the Glendale dojo. Senseis from other martial arts communities were also honored on this special day. “After the blessing, everyone chatted and shared lunch in the academy,” Hill says, “Gracie Barra Glendale is looking forward to a healthy new year for our students both in and out of the academy and the blessing was the perfect way to start the year as we promote the gentle art.”