My Perception of The FIRST Kokomo Gi-Yu Workshop



Jim Nielson

   On February 27th and 28th, 2010 the Gi-Yu Kokomo Training Group hosted the Gi-Yu Hombu Dojo for the first Indiana workshop.  Sensei Sukh Sandhu and other teachers and students from the Hombu Dojo brought with them the energy that made this event a success.  Prior to the event, I was beside myself.  I was disappointed with the lack of reported attendance on the part of the "Kokomo delegation".  The reason why I was so distraught is because I believed I was letting everyone down, both at the Hombu and the people in our training group.  Sensei kept in contact with me, asking if everything was set on our end as hosts.  Shortly before the workshop, I sent him a rather distressing email indicating that we were still alright as far as the schedule was concerned, however the attendance on our part was going to be less than impressive.  I even made the mistake of telling him that I would understand if he decided to cancel due to the lack of attendance.  Sensei corrected me.  He called me and made it very clear that we would not be canceling the workshop.  I knew in my heart that when Sensei says he is going to do something, he does it.  But there is this part of me that has come to expect less of people including myself.  This is a habit that I strive to be rid of as part of my personal growth.  The more that I am around my Dojo family I feel that habit gradually leaving my thought process, but it creeps back in every once in a while especially in stressful and trying times.  It's been my experience that people in police work tend to be somewhat cynical and I am no exception.  This brings me to my point.  Sensei said that the number of people at the workshop did not matter.  Even if the knowledge was passed on to only a few people, it would not be a wasted effort.  He said something that sticks with me since that day which is something to the effect of as long as you are doing the right thing for the right reason, the right people will hear the message.

   I am grateful that two of the Kokomo group did attend.  Roy Smith and Chris Foster have had to deal with my chaotic schedule as well as their own, but I believe they have seen the benefit of this training and how it can positively enhance their lives.  Again, this is where my cynical side has at times gotten the best of me.  Because I am a police officer, I am in contact with other officers and it is my view that law enforcement and military are the modern manifestation of Samurai and Knights.  It is from this pool of people that I would expect to see the most interest in our training.  This has not been the case.  To this date, Roy is the only other officer that has actively trained in our group.  I could type pages and pages of why I believe most officers don't view this or similar training as being important.  But I now know that those reasons do not matter and my time on this earth is too short and precious to dwell on making sense of such things.  What matters is that I carry the message and training to the people who will listen and the right people will reveal themselves.  The committed people in our training group, trained throughout this winter in our unheated pole barn.  Prior to the workshop, I scrounged up enough money to buy a small kerosene heater that warmed the training area by a few degrees but you could still see everyone’s breath in the cold crisp air.  Sukh Sensei and Aman Sensei told me that being in our little unheated training area brought back special memories of their training with Manaka Sensei.  I cannot express how happy this made me.  To think that we were able to bring back fond memories of a special time in my teachers lives, even if it was only because of a lack of funds for a insulated/heated training area and completely out of my control, brought me great joy.  There is no way I will ever be able to repay the debt that I owe to my teachers but it is comments like that that give me hope that I can somehow show the gratitude that I have for their kindness in sharing their knowledge with me. 

   I was further honored by Sensei, when he presented our training group with a framed illustration of two dueling armed and armored Samurai.  Sensei then presented us with a banner with a Dragon and Tiger that he hand painted.  I do not know Sensei's artistic background but in looking at the banner I see the same intensity in the faces of the Dragon and Tiger that I see in Sensei.  Sukh Sensei has never been short on gift giving and has always been very generous.  I have received gifts from him on numerous occasions and I know others have as well.  These gifts presented to the training group on the first day of the workshop and the training that followed hold a very special place in my heart, perhaps much like the training that my teachers received early on from Manaka Sensei.  If I am fortunate to live long enough for this to be a distant memory, I know it will always be a special memory. 

   I also had the opportunity to act as host during this workshop.  I learned this is a weak area for me (Sukh Sensei and Aman Sensei always make it look so easy) but I am confident that I will be better if presented with the opportunity again.  I learned that there is a lot more preparation involved than I originally thought.  I was fortunate that I had good, patient people as guests and a good group of people helping me, specifically Roy Smith, his wife who is a professional photographer, Bridgett, Chris Foster and a long time friend and Officer Chad VanCamp all of whom I am thankful to have in my life.  I am just as thankful to my wife and daughter who were not here during the workshop but both played an important part in the success of this event and provided support only they could give.  Again, Sensei brought with him a great group of people who brought with them a lot of energy.  This same group, most of which I have had an opportunity to train with at the Hombu Dojo, were very respectful as guests and when they left to return home, left little trace of their visit except their positive impression on me.  This reinforces my belief that I am training with some of the best people this world has to offer and they will always be welcome in my home.

   I have spent a lot of time writing about things that may not seem directly related to the physical training that took place at the workshop.  I think it goes without saying to those who attended that this was an intense and informative training session and everyone walked away with something important.  But the things that I have spent the most time writing about above are the things that manifest from me the more I train.  I am learning that by training in the physical techniques I am forced to dive deeper into my own mind to make sense of my own journey on this path that I have chosen to take.  And I couldn't ask for a better guide or group of people to travel with.