We idolize those in the is world that have achieved what we describe as success and strive to become them. However rarely do we hear about the failures that led to the success we see today. The road to success is never easy and the sooner you start to fail, the sooner you start to succeed. The most important thing is to never give up.
Daynin Dashefsky, a 4th degree brown belt, head Instructor and owner at Impact Kahala Jiu Jitsu has had her share of challenges to overcome in her life. But each challenges has led her on the path to success. She says the most important thing is to love what you do and she without a doubt does.
Daynin began her Jiu Jitsu journey on April 4, 2001. Daynin had always wanted to take a self-defense course, especially because she was a single mom and often traveled alone internationally for her business. But Daynin says it was overwhelming to find the right martial art because there are so many arts and she didn’t know the difference between them. It was kismet when she stumbled up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu while her daughters were taking dance classes in Kailua. While waiting for her daughter she noticed a Jiu Jitsu academy next door. After watching a class and speaking to the instructor, Jason Izzaguirre, about self defense she decided to give it a try. The fact that Jiu Jitsu mastered the art of fighting on the ground and most women when attacked are pushed to the ground confirmed that this was the one for her. With her busy schedule it was perfect that she could train at the same time that her daughters were in class instead of sitting around waiting for them.
Daynin began her Jiu Jitsu journey under Jason Izzaguirre at Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Kailua for for the first six years until moving to Kahala. With Jason’s permission, she began training with Ron Huxen out of Hawaii Kai Jiu Jitsu for the next nine years because it was closer to home. Daynin is currently under Michael Chapman from Impact Jiu Jitsu in Oregon. Her school “Impact Kahala Jiu Jitsu” became an affiliate with Impact Jiu Jitsu this last year.
On February 2, 2014 Daynin opened Kahala Jiu Jitsu becoming the first and only female owner of a Jiu Jitsu School in Hawaii. She is also the owner of Hawaii Biz Kids, an organization dedicated to teaching the future generations how to achieve their dreams of entrepreneurship. Being a women of much success we caught up with Daynin to get some advice on the secret to her success and we are honored she shared her story with us.
As a female academy-owner do you think you face different challenges than your male colleagues?
Yes and No. When I opened my school, I was afraid no one would take me seriously and only women and kids would join. I felt men wouldn’t respect me enough to trust me to teach them Jiu Jitsu. Later I found this to be untrue. In February 2017, I made 3 years opened and I currently have 181 active students. KJJ currently consist of: 57 Adults (29 men & 28 women), 33 kids (ages 3-5), 34 kids (ages 6-8), 33 kids (ages 9-11) and 24 teens (ages 12-16). I would consider that a very healthy and well balanced school. I knew I couldn’t compete with all those other schools on Oahu with amazing instructors like Grappling Unlimited, Gracie Technics, UFC Gym, RSA and Caveirinha, to name a few. I had to find my niche and be true to who I am and what I can provide. I did that by creating our school motto which is; “We are not a fight school, we are a life school”. That said it all. We focus on technical Jiu Jitsu, matching up, applying what we learn into everyday life and remembering what is important; values, respect, compassion, and trying our best always. But make no mistake, KJJ students win tournaments. They just do it under a different focus and philosophy. It was also very important for me to create a very non-intimidating atmosphere and that was the key to our success. Making people feel welcomed and non-intimidated.
What advice do you have for female academy owners?
When I was getting ready to open my school, I was extremely nervous and stressed. Wondered if I would be, not just accepted, but respected by the rest of the industry, especially in Hawaii. This caused me a lot of stress so I shared my concerns and fears with my friend Royce Gracie and he gave me the best advice. He said, “Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and what everyone else wants you to do and focus on your students and teaching good Jiu Jitsu. If you do that, they will come”. I did just that and they came. I would pass on that advice to anyone, male or female. Find your niche and be true to who you are and what you want to achieve and build. Don’t try to compete with anyone. Focus on what your goal is and focus on your students. That is all that matters. I would also say to be professional. Remember, this is a business and your students should respect your academy as such. Although it is important to be friendly and social at times with your students, trying to be best friends with them could hurt the student-teacher relationship. There should be a line that separates you from your students and that line should not be crossed. For example; how often do you see bosses of companies partying and drinking and hanging out with their employees? Occasional company events and get togethers are fine but hanging out on a regular basis outside of work is not healthy for the boss/employee relationship. The same goes for BJJ businesses. That is just my opinion. There are always exceptions to the rule, but it should not be a regular practice because you want your students to like you. It is more important that they respect you.
What challenge have you had to overcome?
One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was believing in myself and my ability. When I opened my school I never really taught Jiu Jitsu before. What saved me was that I was a public speaker so I knew how to communicate and inspire people. I was always afraid that some higher belt will come in and challenge my knowledge or skill and would doubt my ability. I had to face my fear of not being good enough. The more I taught, the more I realized I really did know what I was talking about and more importantly, I really understood the technical aspect of our sport. In the three years, I have been teaching, I haven’t come across a question I couldn’t answer. Believing I was worthy of opening my own school was my biggest challenge in the beginning. Now I realize that as much as I can teach, I also have as much to learn and that will always be the case no matter what belt you are. I am very confident with my Jiu Jitsu while at the same time recognizing I have so much room for improvement.
You are also the owner and operator of Hawaii Biz Kids. Tell us about that business?
Before I opened my own school, I was an inventor and entrepreneur as well as a motivational and public speaker. I specialized in working with inventors and entrepreneurs. Hawaii Biz Kids is a summer program that teaches kids ages 7-15 how to start their own businesses. We start every day with one hour of Jiu Jitsu for self-defense and to get them moving and awake. The next hour is “Business”. That is where they create their businesses and learn how to create business plans. After that the next hour is “The Art of Selling” where they learn not just to sell products and services but more importantly, how to sell themselves. We take lunch and then the last hour is “Public Speaking”. At the end of the program the kids have graduation and a tradeshow where they sell their products and services which yield each child as much as $300 – $400 plus. For more information about our program, people can visit our website at www.HawaiiBizKids.com.
Do you have any advice to young entrepreneurs?
My best advice is to not be afraid to fail. The sooner you start failing the sooner you start succeeding. You cannot do one without the other. Failure is the learning curve we need in order to be successful. We cannot understand success without failure. It strengthens us, it empowers us, it motivates us, it educates us. Just GO FOR IT! And when you fall, get back up and keep going. You’re bound to end up somewhere if you do that.
What do you attribute your success to?
There are many things I can attribute my success and failures to because there are many of both. But if I had to choose one thing that makes what I am doing work? I would have to say that I truly love what I do and I truly care about my students and they know and feel that. Everything I do is to make our school better and to provide more value by creating additional programs to offer our students like Hawaii Biz Kids, Super D Self Defense Birthday Parties, BJJ Kids Camps, Survival Camps, etc.
What failures have led to your success?
I have failed at so many things throughout my life but as for KJJ, my notable failures have been minimal. I have had, and continue to have, many learning curves to overcome, but I would have to say my biggest failure is trying to maintain a healthy balanced life. I teach 25 classes and privates per week, not to mention the business aspect such as bookkeeping, creating programs for KJJ and my other businesses, etc. Since my two daughters are both away at college, all my time goes into my work. I am single but have no time to date or even meet people because I am working all the time. Most Jiu Jitsu school owners don’t have 100% of their time to put into their academies because they have family and other work responsibilities to deal with. Everything is relative. My academy’s success is a result of the time I put into it. But my sacrifice is that I have no personal life and I don’t do enough fun things to balance my life out. My fear is that if I don’t make some changes, then I will eventually burn out and that will cause a big failure for my school and my life.
Do you think it takes a certain type of woman, and with what characteristics, to train Jiu-Jitsu? If so, who is she?
No, but it takes a certain type of women to stay the course. I’ve seen all types of women come and go. Before I would say it takes a confident, athletic, and competitive type woman and a one who was comfortable with her body because of the intimate training we do with men. But that is not necessarily true. I’ve seen woman quit who I thought would never give up Jiu Jitsu and I’ve seen women come in that I thought wouldn’t last a week and two and a half years later they still attend every class and are going strong and more committed than most men. What I found is that the people who last in BJJ, last because they love it. They may not be the best, or even very good, but if they love coming to class and they enjoy and respect their Instructor and the other students, they will keep coming. I think it all boils down to how coming to class and training makes you feel, male or female. That is why I have one goal as an instructor. It’s not to build a champion or to make you good at Jiu Jitsu. My only goal is to make you fall in-love with Jiu Jitsu. If I can do that? My job is done.
What is the secret to success?
DON’T QUIT! The only difference between a White Belt and a Black Belt is the Black Belt never quit.
Girls in Gis staff writer
Shama Ko is a brown belt with Gracie Humaita out of Austin, TX. She has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since November of 2003. She is a photographer, writer, community organizer and activist. She heads the Girls in Gis organization or as she calls it the “movement”. She describes herself as both a lover and a fighter. She loves to laugh and not take life too seriously.