Alliance in Focus: Ryu Dan Dojo-Youth Empowerment Centre

Each month, Alliance in Focus features the work of a Fight for Peace Alliance member, shining a light on how community based organisations around the world are working together in this global movement to prevent violence in their communities.

14/05/2018 – Ryu Dan Dojo Youth Empowerment Centre, an NGO based in Trinidad and Tobago, uses martial arts to support young people to build positive futures for themselves. Founded in 2013, the organisation completed training in the Fight for Peace methodology in 2015 at the Rio Academy. Now a Fight for Peace Alliance member, Ryu Dan Dojo offers education, employability and youth leadership programmes, alongside martial arts training, to invest in the personal development of its members.

The Fight for Peace Alliance is a global community of practice, composed of organisations who have all been trained in the Fight for Peace methodology and who work together to bring change to communities affected by crime and violence by sharing knowledge, expertise and best practice.

For Ryu Dan Dojo Co-Founders Sensei Marva John Logan and Sensei Adrian Sealey, the benefit of working with Fight for Peace has been in allowing the organisation to formalise and strengthen their processes and structures. In particular, monitoring and evaluation systems, which are central to recording and demonstrating impact, have been created with the assistance of Fight for Peace consultants, while the organisation has also developed a theory of change since completing training at the Rio Academy.

Today, Adrian, Marva and their team monitor the academic, behavioural and physical progression of their participants quarterly in order to gauge and report on their impact. “Before working with Fight for Peace, we knew the system we had worked, however it lacked structure and therefore empirical evidence was difficult to produce”, explains Adrian. “We have made, and continue to make, significant improvements to our organisation and the types of services we offer. We are also better able to produce detailed reports of the successes and analyse any shortcomings of all of the programmes we deliver”, he adds.

With solid foundations in place, 2017 was a watershed year for Ryu Dan Dojo, a period in which projects focused on women and at risk young people were developed and in which partnerships with law enforcement and other community based organisations were brokered. It was also a year in which the organisation was selected to participate on the U.S. Department of State’s prestigious International Visitors Leadership Program, which aims to build community resilience to violence.

Representing Ryu Dan Dojo on the programme, the organisation’s Co-Founders had the opportunity to learn from counterparts from a range of sectors and countries and share their knowledge on how holistic programmes incorporating martial arts can contribute to building safer communities. “We were the only combat sports organisation invited onto the programme, and that meant we were able to share innovative and powerful approaches to engaging young people who may otherwise opt for a life of crime”, explains Adrian.

Ryu Dan Dojo continues to work closely with partners around the world through the Fight for Peace Alliance, maintaining close and regular connection and exchanging best practice in order to strengthen and scale their programmes, and those of others.