Veteran Creates Family Environment Through Judo

By Jacob Dimond / jake@yelmonline.com
Posted 2/8/22

Michael Blank is a retired military veteran who looks to give back to his community through the martial art of judo.

On Monday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, Blank and Kazoku Judo host practices …

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Veteran Creates Family Environment Through Judo

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Michael Blank is a retired military veteran who looks to give back to his community through the martial art of judo.

On Monday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, Blank and Kazoku Judo host practices in their dojo at the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Yelm.

After it opened in August of 2021, Kazoku Judo quickly began to grow, and Blank is proud of the progress he has seen.

“We opened last August and began to grow rather quickly. Now, we’re looking to add a waiting list for those looking to join,” said Blank. “Our dojo is different from others because we try to create an environment based around family, rather than the individual.”

The name of the club, Kazoku, means family in Japanese.

The cost for an individual is $75 for a class, but those who sign up for four sessions pay $125.

Prior to opening Kazoku Judo Club, Blank was involved with Oak Tree Judo in McKenna. After several attempts to reopen the location, Blank knew he needed to do something else.

“We tried to re-open the Oak Tree dojo, but after that fell through, we got the blessing of Sensei Fred (of Oak Tree Judo)  to open up the new dojo in Yelm,” said Blank.

Beyond judo, Blank has tried to establish his role in the community as he helps organize and host family dinners at the Emanuel Lutheran Church.



“COVID-19 has brought a lot of bad times to families in the area and throughout the world. What I am trying to do is bring a little happiness to families. My goal through judo and these dinners is to provide service to families in our community,” said Blank. “With these community dinners, I want to show these young kids that judo is bigger than sport, but about giving back, too.”

Recently, Blank learned about a grant that benefits those currently in the National Guard or Army Reserves. The grant, through a program known as “Our Military Kids,” aims to provide funding to children whose parents are deployed.

Through the grant, a family receives $300 every six months, which can be used for any activity the servicemember’s child participates in. It can be used for tuition, sport expenses, uniforms, and a wide variety of other activities. Veterans who have been severely injured in combat may also be eligible for the grant as well, which includes five payments of $300.

Blank, who heard about the grant through one of the families who attend Kazoku Judo, jumped on the opportunity to aid the kids in his program.

“I want to do anything I can to help out those who serve in our community,” said Blank. “Being a retired vet, being able to help those in service makes it mean so much more to me. The grant is a great program for those in service. If we can support it, we will.”

Blank doesn’t care if the grant helps just one family at his dojo, or many, as long as it makes a difference.

“Being able to give back and help is really what we’re looking to do at Kazoku,” he said.

With his family embedded in the community, Blank is thankful to be able to give back. He said Kazoku has a great base of families who currently take lessons through the business. Blank is grateful for their support and is happy they all share something they enjoy. 

For those interested in the grant program, more information can be found online at  www.ourmilitarykids.org. More information about Kazoku Judo, can be found on its Facebook page “Kazoku Judo Club.”

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