Ni Kyu and
Ichi Kyu Reflections
Ichi Kyu—The Gi Yu Dayton Dojo
guys like an MMA group or something?”
It was a
little after 2:00am Sunday morning. The
conversations and celebration of the 7th annual GiYu Dojo seminar
spilled into the parking lot of the third establishment of the night.
I guess it
was a legitimate question. I don’t know
what cues my new flat-billed-hat-wearing, oversized-shorts-rocking, thug-4-life
buddy from inside the bar had picked up on, but in some ways, he was in the
ballpark with his question. I don’t
recall talking about training with anyone or hearing anyone else discussing
martial arts while inside, so I wondered how he had worked out that observation. What added to the impressiveness of his
awareness was the fact that he was stabilizing his female friend in her four-inch
heels (who he had just resuscitated from the bar minutes earlier) as she
wobbled like a newly born fawn into the parking lot. Are we an MMA group? Yeah, I guess in some sense we are, but his
actual question lacked enough depth to entice an answer that would be truly understood
so we all kind of kept walking, talking, and saying our goodbyes.
earlier, I was presented with my second rank promotion in three months by Sukh
Sensei and the rest of the attending Dan-level members. Humbled and exhausted, I was overcome with
emotion while looking around the room and seeing so many of the people who had
worked so hard with me to achieve this. Sharing
this moment with them and thinking of my wife and children, who had sacrificed
many hours with me so that I could train to better myself; I literally fought
back tears. The moment was the
culmination of many people’s efforts.
never underestimate the impact of their presence in others’ lives no matter how
big or small they perceive it to be.
ago, I was not confident in my skills or material for my Ni Kyu test. When Sukh Sensei informed us that we would
get a rare opportunity to test in March, I was on the fence about challenging
myself. I have many people in my life to
thank who have pushed me in my journey with the dojo so far - my wife, children,
and family for their undying support of all my endeavors, Sensei and the Dan-level
members for their guidance and encouragement – but it would be wrong of me to
not reflect on the impact that two of my fellow Kyu ranks, Brittany Mooney and
Matt Wooten, have had on me over the last five months.
For my Ni
Kyu test in March, Brittany Mooney, a fellow student and friend, approached me
about testing. Early February is the
busiest time of the year for my job. I knew it would be very difficult with my
commitments at work to commit to the level of training I felt I needed to be
successful. I initially agreed to simply
uke for Brittany so she could test. We
began working together after class. I
began making it more of a priority to make it to class despite having little
time in my schedule. I found ways to
train outside of the dojo. I did not
want to let my training partner down and I wasn’t going to let my schedule be
an excuse for any type of failure. As we
trained, I gained more confidence. One
night at the dojo, Aman Sensei saw Brittany and me training. His encouraging
words gave me the last bit of confidence I needed and I chose to challenge the
test. Over those couple months, Brittany
helped me gain confidence by working many extra hours preparing for my test -
even meeting at odd times and places outside of the dojo. She never said that she didn’t want to hear my
excuses, but her perseverance and her drive to better herself pulled me along.
For that, I am very thankful.
after passing my Ni Kyu test, I found myself in a similar situation when I was
then approached by Matt Wooten, another student and friend at the dojo, about
being his uke for his Ichi Kyu test in June.
It was déjà vu. In the same way that
Brittany did for my Ni Kyu test, Matt pushed, pulled, and threw me (literally)
towards my goals. We met after class and
on Sunday mornings getting ready for my Ichi Kyu test. It was clear from the beginning that Matt was
not going to allow me to be just an uke.
I wasn’t just there to be thrown around, twisted, and contorted. Matt was genuinely concerned about making me
better. He took time with me to go over
the details of the techniques that he understood. A couple times in our first training session
I thought, “Wait, you’re the one testing, right?” As I began to train with him more, I again gained
confidence and committed myself to challenging another rank test. I made it to training every chance I had and
continued to meet with Matt on Sundays.
At one point, I believe I was at the dojo ten straight days
training. During that time, Chuck Senpai
and Jaye Senpai were able to lend us their guidance by discussing their
observations and answering any of the questions that Matt and I had. Their knowledge and Matt’s persistence again
gave me the confidence to succeed in my second rank test in three months.
years at the dojo, I have talked to a number of visitors or new students. They are always quick to point out how
impressed they are with the way everyone at the dojo is so willing to help each
other get better. What many of these
casual observers aren’t able to see is how this virtue extends well beyond the
constraints of physically training and class time. Over the last several months, I have directly
benefitted from the generosity, perseverance, and guidance at our dojo that
these observers have witnessed, but I have also continue to be impacted in ways
that they could not see. It is what
makes this school and community special.
I have mentioned a number of people at the dojo who helped me
tremendously in the last 5 months, but there are many more. Every rep, every rei, every “how are things
going?” has pushed me along and helped me better myself. So yes, my flat-billed friend, we are a
group of people who study mixed martial arts, but I believe - we believe - we are