The 2010 Gi-Yu Dojo Seminar
Compassion and Refining
The third annual Gi-Yu Dojo Annual Seminar has come and gone
and now is the time to contemplate lessons learned. Two subjects that were discussed during the
seminar in both formal and informal settings were Compassion and Refining. Just like most things in our way, I see these
two subjects being connected. Not just
connected but interwoven and bound to each other. The idea of Compassion seems for many people
outside of our way and even those inside the martial arts, to be unrelated to
the warriors’ path.
I know there are language studies that breakdown the meaning,
origin and other aspects of words. My intention
is not to give a sterile analysis of the words meaning but instead discuss my
perception of what the words mean to me.
I see two distinct and significant words when I look at the word
Compassion. I could see during the
training that everyone on the mat was giving their complete attention to Sensei
Sukh Sandhu as he performed, described, dissected and repeated each
technique. Then when each of us
individually attempted the techniques, you could clearly see a look of
concentration on our faces. In the word
Compassion, you have Passion. A common
use of the word passion is to hear someone speaking of a deep love for someone
or something. I think it is safe to say
that if you do not care for or love something, you give it little attention and
are not Passionate about it. It was
apparent to me that those present were Passionate about their training. But this begs the question, is it the
techniques that we are Passionate about or is it what these techniques develop
in us that brings out our Passion.
Most everyone in our dojo speaks of a transformation of one
kind or another and how it is the direct by product of their Kobudo
training. It is not uncommon to hear
teachers and students speak of how it has transformed their physical, emotional
and/or spiritual states. For me, the
training would be useless if all I was getting out of it was “self defense”
training. There are plenty of schools
and programs in this country that teach “combat skills” or “street self
defense” or what ever name is the current industry accepted catch phrase. These programs, at least the reputable ones,
tend to be short term and offer some effective techniques to physically deal
with the most common scenarios that one would likely encounter. They serve a purpose for the masses that may
not be seeking true warrior skills and ideas but instead seek an immediate
answer to perceived threats. This type
of training tends to not bring out the Passion I speak of. This may be because it usually only affects a
small part of the whole person.
Kobudo on the other hand and by its’ inherent nature, puts us
in an environment to grow in all ways as a person. Even though the techniques are rooted in the
physical world, it is the Refining of these techniques that helps us to grow
emotionally and spiritually. Refining is
something that we must do on a regular basis.
As Sensei demonstrated each technique, it became clear to me that the
level of Refinement that he has reached could have only been accomplished by
having Passion for what he was studying.
Teaching his Refined skill to us in an effort to help us grow in turn
shows Compassion. He is sharing with
each of us something that he has put his heart into not to mention countless
hours of repetition, time away from family and friends, through injury and
sickness, when other things in life seemed over whelming.
Each of us who hold rank in this dojo knows that the color of
the belt we wear around our waist means little.
It is the growth that each of us had to go through to reach that level
that truly matters. I watched and
participated in the testing during this seminar. As always, the highlight for me was the
randori. I learn as much from watching
randori as I do from participating in it.
This time around, I heard something that really stuck with me after the
first day of testing / randori. It was
mentioned that each person going through the testing and randori now
understands Compassion as it relates to our training. Perhaps this is because it’s easier to
understand another persons’ struggles when you go through the same or similar
struggle. And there a few greater
struggles than facing your own weaknesses under the stresses of peer
pressure/peer review and pain.
This brings me to the second word that I see in Compassion
and that is Compass. When speaking of a
Compass we all know that its’ purpose is to identify direction usually through
the wilderness to safety. When I think
about the purpose of a warrior I often think it is the warriors’ responsibility
and duty to lead others through danger and hard times and into safety. So the warriors’ Compass (read Heart) should
always be set on the true north of Compassion.
Compassion is reached through the constant Passionate struggle and Refinement
of our skills. The testing / randori
process that we go through is the anvil and hammer that we forge our spirits
The 2010 seminar was a great success. Many friendships were strengthened and
knowledge was passed. I tested for my
Ichi Kyu and Sho Dan and passed. I can
only compare this experience to the birth of my daughter and the marriage to my
wife. I look forward to forging my
spirit with everyone again soon.