The IMAS leadership has spoken to several black belts who have asked various permutations of this question. We know that if a few people ask a hard question like this, there are many more who have it and don’t ask it. This is an important question, with complicated answers. We did not come to this decision lightly, and there are a great number of moving parts to the issue that are not necessarily common knowledge. In the spirit of transparency, here is a sample of our thought process for seeking funds in this way.
Back in the late 1970’s, Hanshi Nastasia and O-Sensei Desmarais were instructors at the United Studios of Self Defense in Merrimack. Their success at building their dojo’s clientele, particularly children, led them to a vision: strike out on their own, and use martial arts as a method to assist children to make the most of themselves as people. Aside from their expertise and skills at teaching, they had other factors going for them: karate was relatively new to mainstream America, and there was increasing demand for instruction but not many schools out there yet. They were able to build a successful business while firmly holding their dreams and ideals.
The IKS was forced to move from its original Main St. location when the building was slated for demolition. The Headmasters raised funds in part by offering lifetime memberships (they did not do this before, or since); this method of raising capital was one of the reasons they were able to purchase the Lake St. building.
There are differences, and similarities, between the original IKS Headmasters’ situation and that of the IMAS. We share our instructors’ grand vision, that of improving the community through the teaching of the martial arts. We have an advantage, though, of having observed it happen, so we know for a fact that the dream is real (the view is far greater when one is standing on the shoulders of giants!). However, the realities of the market are far different today: there are significantly more martial arts schools actively competing for students, making the risk of going full-time something that none of the IMAS leadership can take on. We had to find different ways to raise capital in order to continue the dream.
As far as an actual location, we have been searching in earnest, and the current Hombu is by far the best option we’ve been able to find. From a strictly logistical standpoint, any properties that are of suitable space are simply too expensive, and those that are affordable are too small (and being in an inadequate space would lead to attrition, to the point where the business would fail). There is a strong emotional factor as well, that cannot be ignored: Lake St. is our home. All of us have spent blood, sweat, and tears (literally in most cases) learning to be who we are in that place, and our school’s soul is seeped into the building’s pores. The IMAS Headmasters wish to fight for our—YOUR—home.
Visit our GoFundMe here!