Refection of AFROTC Training Event

Mike Kinsey 


There is something awe-inspiring about witnessing one hundred and twenty-five individuals interact with someone that I have grown to respect as a true leader.  I came away with many conclusions after observing Sensei Sukh Sandhu’s recent Leadership and Close Quarters Combat Seminar for the U.S. Air Force Officers and Cadets of Detachment 643.  Sensei’s words concerning leadership were heartfelt and insightful.  The cadets were able to successfully progress in their abilities despite the small amount of time allotted for the event.  However, after reflecting upon the evening, one realization stood clear as the most remarkable to me.  It was formed from the fact that every person had a unique experience.  Some progressed faster than others.  All had specific strengths and weaknesses.  However, certain patterns existed throughout the group.  What surprised me was that those patterns mirror trends that I have seen during my short time in training in Kobudo.  It was this comparison of their experience to mine that helped me look a little deeper into how I have been spending the last several months at the Gi Yu Dojo.

 I would assume that the cadets filed into the gymnasium focused on the fact that they were going to receive instruction on a few basic self-defense techniques.  That was the only thing I was concerned with when I started searching for martial arts training.  My plan was simple.  First, I would find a place kind enough to invite me to become a student.  Then I would hand them a monthly check.  Finally, I would be given a precise set of instructions that would allow me to defend myself in the face of any aggressive confrontation.  Practice those steps every now and then and I would be prepared.  It seems absurd now, not to mention selfish and arrogant, but that is basically what I anticipated.  Thankfully, the instruction that I have received from Sensei Sandhu and the other members of the Gi Yu Dojo opened my eyes and has surpassed anything beyond those shallow expectations.

 A very elementary lesson that I have learned, that most certainly took longer than it should have, is that before one can become proficient (let alone good) at any technique, one must first have the resolve and determination necessary for persevering through the discouragement born of difficult times and the complacency that can accompany successes.  Practicing the rigid mechanics of something will not be enough if you want to truly understand what you are performing and why you are performing it.  In observing a few cadets that participated in the seminar, I could tell that Sensei’s insight into leadership, particularly how challenges are necessary for honing a warrior’s edge and testing the resolve of a true leader, was personified as the cadets progressed in practicing the increasingly complex techniques.  I noted several instances where participants would become discouraged from not “mastering” a movement right away, only to be picked up by one of their peers and encouraged to continue.  This occurs regularly for me as a beginning student and I sometimes wonder if I would have continued past my more humbling moments without the support of the Gi Yu Dojo members. 

 As another related point for comparison between my experiences and those at the seminar, one cadet in particular noted near the end of the evening that it is easier to be effective when both the tori and the uke act with an appropriate level of intent and realism in their actions.  As I mentioned, this took me a considerable amount of time to realize and is something that I remind myself of several times when training.  I was first amazed that this individual discovered it in merely a few hours, but later was even more astounded when I realized that eventually every single person has to reach that conclusion if they want to be successful in anything they pursue.

While I look forward to the immense potential of what is available to learn from Sensei Sukh Sandhu and the other Gi Yu Dojo members, I do my best to apply the basic lessons I have learned so far.  Whether it is training in Kobudo, the daily work involved with my career, or interacting with family and friends, I strive to remember that nothing of value comes quickly or easily and that the best results are produced when you act with intent, integrity, and the determination needed to achieve something worthwhile.