“What you put in….”

Written by Aman Brar

Over the course of many years everyone hears the old cliché “What you put in to something is what you get out.”  As free people we have the choice to embrace this idea or to totally disregard it.  It is simply a matter of preference.  Some individuals may discount this cliché as an old even obsolete statement, or rather completely ignore it just as another hopeless cliché.  However, others understand the importance and depth of this statement.  Some even go as far as to make this statement their life mantra.  
On July, 18 2008, I revisited this statement.   

During one of the late months in 2007, my teacher Sensei Sukh Sandhu hinted to a few of the senior student in our dojo that they might “think” about testing for their next rank.  In Japanese Martial Arts when your teacher hints or implies to something or an idea; it is almost a directive that a student should follow.  So I did.  I started to think about becoming a Yondan (4th degree black belt).  I first started by compiling all the techniques for the test from my notebooks.  Then I retyped them in the order for the test.  I started to simply read them and review the movements.  Then after a week of reviewing, I added these techniques to my daily training ritual.  Several weeks passed and I started to feel comfortable with the movement, I asked Sensei Sandhu for some of his time to clarify the finer points of these techniques.  As a great teacher, he provided me with a lot of profound information.  But, later I understood that he also did not tell me everything, because he wanted me to discover the rest for myself.  

Early in January of 2008, Sensei Sandhu announced that he felt that many of the people in our dojo were ready to challenge themselves to attain their next rank.  He stated that testing would be held for our next rank the week before our dojo’s first annual GiYu Dojo seminar.  I felt very comfortable with this timeline because I had already been studying the material for my Yondan test for about two months prior to his announcement.  Training for my Yondan test started by me implementing some of the basic movements of the different aspects of the test material into my everyday training.  

In order to truly understand each technique, I pieced it apart like pieces to a puzzle; every step, pull, grab, punch, throw, attack, and defense.  I learned each one with great precision and understanding, making them as natural to my body as walking.  Then I started to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Once the puzzle was complete I reviewed each complete technique slowly and methodically.  As I became more comfortable with the movements as a whole, I slowly increased the pace and strength of my attacks and movements.  Once I had complete confidence in my understanding and ability, I stopped training on the Yondan rank material.  For the next week, during my morning training sessions I began to train on other aspects of my art.  Then, I revisited all the Yondan material with a suspicious eye.  Attempting to investigate what I might have overlooked or missed.  Outonishingly, I found a great deal of new information, which helped elevate my ability and understanding of my Yondan test.   

When it came down to test time, I was confident and ready.  I performed every technique as I had practiced and understood over the past several months.  I knew this material inside and out, backwards and forwards.  Once the test concluded, I knew in my heart that I had passed.  Sensei Sandhu only took a minute to make a decision and announce the verdict.  He stated that I had passed, and that I had performed with excellence.  My emotions were of sheer joy and extreme happiness.  My first thought was “What you put in to it, is really what get out of it.”  That moment was total vindication of that cliché.  

I took that feeling and understanding into our first annual GiYu Dojo Seminar.  The seminar was a great success for our dojo and for me as a student.  At our seminar we had a wonderful turnout, attend by a great group of students from across the country.  The positive energy was infectious.  It is marvelous when everyone who attends a training event are very good and humble people willing to learn.  Sensei Sandhu taught in his usual direct, honest, and caring manner; helping everyone to become better martial artists.  What a great success! For me as a student, I attended the seminar with my cliché in mind.  I understood that if I give a 100% during the seminar, I would get 100% back.  The cliché held true for me once again.  I felt my techniques and movements became even more stronger and more effective than ever before.  At the same time, I learned a great deal about my Art and myself.  Therefore, I truly did get what I put into it.  

My Yondan test and seminar experiences have helped me to reapply a lesson that I learned a long time ago.  I believe I will come to further grasp the cliché in the coming years as I keep it closer to my heart and mind.  I understand that the cliché is not obsolete, it is forever.