Seminar 2014

WS Bumgarner – Go Dan

Dojo Cho Atlanta GiYu Dojo

July 2014

Christmas in June.  That’s what I call the annual GiYu Seminar.  It’s only been a month since the annual seminar occurred but it feels like forever.  To say that I enjoy the annual seminar is an understatement.  Really, what’s not to enjoy?  I get to spend three days doing something I love with other people who love doing the same thing.  What a wonderful place to be.  What a wonderful thing to be a part of.  What a wonderful group of people to be associated with. 

But, despite all of the great people I saw at the seminar and the great training, one thought kept popping into my head – Where the hell is everybody?  What I mean is, where were all of the other people whose names hang on the rank board but weren’t there at the seminar?  Again, don’t get me wrong.  The seminar was great.  The people were great.  But, as Sensei and I have talked about many times, if even half the people who had come through the dojo in the past were to show up to the annual seminar we would have several hundred people training.  Not only would we not fit inside the dojo we might not fit in the parking lot and the adjoining property.  Wouldn’t that be amazing to see?  Where are those people I wonder?  Did they move?  Did they die?  Did they just forget where the dojo is?  I really don’t know.

What are you waiting for?  What has to change in your life to allow you to come back to the dojo?  What has to change in you to get you back to something that you say you love?  I remember Manaka Sensei, founder of the Jissen Kobudo Jinenkan and my former teacher, was talking once about the amount of time he had committed to training over the last 40 years and summed it up by saying “If you want to be able to do things that other people can’t do, you have to live a life that other people don’t.”  Wow.  It’s that simple.  It comes down to effort – both physically and mentally.  You live a life others don’t when you come to the dojo when others go straight home from work or go to the bar.  You live a life others don’t when you spend a little time on your own at home training instead of surfing the net reading an article about why Beyoncé hates broccoli.  You live a life others don’t when you understand that the world is full of sheep, you decide it is better to be a shepherd and you take action to be that shepherd – for yourself, your family and friends, your community.    

Why would someone put in the years of hard work required to get on the rank board and earn the respect of others at the dojo and then not go back?  Why would someone belittle their own accomplishments by ignoring the very place and people who helped them achieve things that they never thought they were capable of?  I honestly don’t get it.  I understand people get busy.  But, we are all busy.  I understand people have problems. But, we all have problems - family problems, work problems, health problems, money problems, annoying boss problems, spouse problems, children problems, this idiot won’t let me merge into traffic problems, why is this cop giving me a ticket when I was going the same speed as everyone else problems…etc.  I also understand people have fear, self-doubt, laziness, a poor attitude and a lack of vision for what is possible if we can only focus and apply ourselves.  Yes, believe it or not we all have those feelings. It is easy to get overwhelmed and believe me I have personally had all of the above problems and more.  But I honestly don’t understand when people tell me their life is just complicated right now and it is getting in the way of their training.  How can your life get in the way of training when training is a part of your life? 


I have been training since I was 18 years old, when I was single and young and dumb with no worries.  Now, I am 41 with four children and I am self-employed still working through the wake of the worst real estate market in 80 years. It is an understatement to say that over the past 20 years life has gotten much more complicated. In all that time, though, as things have gotten more hectic and busy, the thought has never occurred to me that the best thing to do is stop training, to stop trying, to stop pushing and challenging myself.  Training has always been there to help me, to save me – from myself. How you ask? By helping me get out of my head, helping me put my problems to the side for a while and reminding me that life goes on and usually the things we occupy our minds with the most really don’t amount to much.  I have come to realize that my presence and persistence in training has a ripple effect on others.  As a senior student and head of the only affiliate GiYu School, I can motivate and lead by my actions. Who knows, maybe your presence and hard work is providing inspiration for others going through a dark time in their life.  We all need a rock to hang onto sometimes.  Maybe you are someone’s rock and don’t know it.  Maybe you’ll need a rock someday.  Where will you go?   

The good part is that a clear path has already been laid out for us to follow.  Fortunately, we have a dojo that has been built for us and others to train in.  We have a teacher that has traveled all over the world amassing a complete record of the koryu arts we study.  We have a teacher that has spent thousands of hours perfecting his skill set to enable him to not only teach us the finer points of the techniques (cutting down on our own time period to gain proficiency) but also to help us understand the physical and philosophical applications of studying an ancient martial art in today’s modern world.  And, we have senior students who have gained a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge from their own persistence and hard work who are eager to help anyone who asks for it.

After all that you really think you’re too tired from work not to go to training?  You think your spouse can’t live without you for two hours a week while you are training?  You think you can’t make it to the seminar when it’s only 6 months away? Really?