Gi Yu Dojo Learning Experience
By: Luke Lindeman San-Kyu
Recently I had the honor to test for the rank of San Kyu (Green Belt) at the Gi Yu Dojo. As a Mu Kyu (White Belt) I was looking to advance to a Green Belt as the next step in my training. I approached the challenge knowing I would learn new techniques, become more confident and gain more mental fortitude. I was surprised to find that on top of these skills I also learned about my character and how I interact with the world, something I desperately needed to see.
I vividly recall standing in front of Sensei Sukh and the Black Belts at the end of my testing. I was physically exhausted with sweat dripping off my face onto my already drenched gi. Mentally, I was aware and alive. It was as if nothing mattered more in the world than being present at that very moment in that very place. It was exhilarating. I had just passed through a trial by fire and was able to stand at the end. Having survived through the application of my training and experiences learned at the dojo.
The verdict was still out as to whether I passed or not and one by one Sensei Sukh called us White Belts forward to inform us of the collective decision of the teachers present. As I walked forward I was uncertain as to whether or not I passed. Before he let me know, Sensei Sukh gave me a blindingly accurate snapshot of my life and how I was living. He said that while I showed innate talent and ability for the martial arts, my lack of discipline and dedication was evident in my execution of the techniques. He called me a natural but at the same time showed his disappointment in the fact that I chose to not apply myself to gain my full potential. He went on to inform me that I did successfully gain the rank of San Kyu but the real victory that day was a glimpse of myself that I had not seen before.
When I first started training Sensei Sukh told a story from his past. I shall attempt to summarize it. There were two boxers who trained at the same school. One was a naturally gifted boxer, he had the moves and techniques without practicing or giving them much thought. He was made for boxing and he knew it. The other was very poor at boxing, but what he lacked in skill he made up for in discipline and determination. As the story goes, the naturally gifted boxer would skip out on practice and not take boxing seriously since it came so easy to him. While the disciplined boxer spent every available minute training and striving to improve himself. Time passed and the boxers had a fight in the ring. The disciplined boxer emerged victorious and the moral of the story is sealed. No matter how gifted or talented we may be, without hard work and discipline that talent is wasted.
Now that I know I am the “gifted” slacker, I can see that pattern repeated through my past. I can see myself in college doing just enough to get by without actually applying myself and excelling. I was content with mediocre grades because it was easy and didn’t require much work. But I’ve found through my experience at the Gi Yu Dojo that many things in life are worth fighting for and worth mastering. It isn’t enough to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. That is the same as being a lukewarm drink, it’s boring and will be spit out. It’s much better to focus ones energy to become a master at disciplines that truly matter in life.
This stark analysis of my behavior has given me a new outlook on life. I now recognize where I am lacking discipline and choosing to drift by on skill alone. Now that I can see the problem I can take steps to correct it. I am working on strengthening my spirit and will power. To choose discipline and hard work over laziness and mediocrity. It won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight. But each step in the right direction is one less step in the wrong direction. And by choosing the right direction one step at a time, I will reach my goal.
Testing for San Kyu taught me a valuable lesson on how I am living my life. I am very grateful to have a Dojo and a Sensei that care about my personal well being with such sincerity. Who strive to show me a better way of living. And who are setting examples of how a true warrior should live in the way they conduct themselves. It is a lesson I will remember for the rest of my life.