This yearly campaign is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. In 2013, our youth group was doing a study on justice issues that IJM designed specifically for youth. As a result of that, the students wanted to do something tangible in response to what they had learned about violent oppression, human trafficking and other injustices that they had been previously unaware of. I was talking about all of this with Dean Siminoff one night, and he had been looking for ways to get his TKD school involved in something bigger….something that would give his students a chance to become the “champions of freedom and justice” that they had taken an oath to be. I was not even part of the school at this point, but welcomed a partner in what seemed like an overwhelming task – educating the public and raising money for International Justice Mission to do their work, proving “that justice for the poor is possible.”
That night, Breaking Boards Breaking Chains was born and at that point, I could not have imagined what it would grow into. Now into its fourth campaign, BBBC is involving more schools than ever and even branching out in the US and into the areas in Africa where we seek to serve for the long haul. The first and second years, I was just a helper, serving on the sidelines and helping out wherever I could. But it was this campaign and this call to be a ‘champion of freedom and justice’ that I could just no longer ignore. I showed up for class as an intimidated and humbled white belt…unsure of myself, but absolutely sure of my calling.
In March, I am testing for my brown belt, after almost two years of training and the time has gone by fast. Last year, as a purple belt, I set myself a goal to break 36 boards, one for each million people that estimated to be in slavery today in the world. That goal changed when I reached it and still more people wanted to support IJM’s work. I ended up breaking 50 boards and raising $1000. For me, this event is not about me, how many boards I break with which technique and how fast. For me, it is about raising awareness of injustice and giving others a chance to take part in something bigger.
What began as a fundraiser has become my purpose and vision. I am a martial artist (which is actually difficult to even say, because I am really not that good at it!), but more than that, I am a martial artist that is striving to be a “champion of freedom and justice” in this world. I break boards to raise money and awareness for IJM’s work, but symbolically and personally, I break them to remind myself that there ARE barriers that can be broken when people take action.