“A Black Belt from The Gi Yu Dojo”

Brittney Mooney

ShoDan The Dayton Gi Yu Honbu Dojo


Since I was about 6 years old until I was 18 years old I trained in USFT/ITF Tae Kwon Do. I wasn’t just a “weekend warrior” either,  I trained hard and competed regularly. I was able to get my 1st Degree Black Belt by the time I was 10 years old, and was one of the youngest in our Federation. This year after training and being part of The Gi Yu Dojo for over 3 years I took the DAN challenge and tested for my Sho Dan. Myself and two others had been diligently training specifically on our test martial for months putting in extra hours before and after regular training as well as on “off” days. When the time came, I knew that day would be a day that would change us forever, pass or fail.

When I first set foot into The Gi Yu Dojo, I had no idea what to expect. I had recently moved out on my own and was working my first “Adult Job” when I decided that something very important to me was missing from my life, training in martial arts. I originally had started looking for a TaeKwonDo school to continue on from where I left off before I had to leave for college. Very quickly I discovered that unless I wanted to start training in something by the same name but very different from what I knew and loved, I would have to train in something different entirely. I had already looked at two other Taekwondo schools that day, and on my way home I decided I would go ahead and check out one last school even though it was completely different from my past. That school was The Gi Yu Dojo! From the first step in the door, seeing all of the accomplishments of Sukh Sensei and the “Black Belt Wall of Fame”, I knew this was no ordinary place. At the time it was weapons class and I had never used any weapons except for the brief knife defense courses I had done. I was very intimidated but at the same time excited and wanted to learn what the students were working on. Since that day I’ve never looked back and have trained with The Gi Yu Dojo exclusively.

I’ll never forget the feeling of wearing a white belt for the second time in my life, after training in martial arts for almost 12 years it was a very odd feeling. There were old habits I struggled to break, in the same way that people completely new to training have to overcome. “Starting over” is a very humbling thing to do, you have to in a sense forget everything you once learned so that you can completely concentrate on learning and understanding everything that the new style you’re training in has to offer. For example, I was taught to tuck my chin, which is not a negative thing, but it was to the point that it was as if I was always looking down during my strikes. I had to learn to put that lesson to the side and learn to keep my head up, which is a much harder habit to break than you may think. As time progressed though I have learned many new things and have solidified the fact that you never stop learning. Even though I have my 2nd degree black belt in another style of martial arts I still have much to learn and I believe you must always start from the bottom and take the time to learn the basics if you ever wish to become truly good at what you’re doing.

With over 3 years of training at The Gi Yu Dojo now under my belt, and LOTS of dedicated practice specifically towards my Sho Dan material, it was time to challenge myself and attempt to earn my Sho Dan. That night after No Gi Grappling as Matt, Adam, and I were preparing for our test, I looked at them and I was proud of how far we had already come and was confident that we were going to achieve our goal. All of our hard work and dedication paid off because that night The Gi Yu Dojo gained 3 new Sho Dans. After all of the congratulations, compliments, and hugs/hand shakes,  Sukh Sensei walked up to me and asked how this moment compared to the moment I received my 1st Black belt in TKD. I told him not at all the same and just shook my head smiling. It’s not to say that I didn’t train as hard for it, or wasn’t congratulated. It’s the strong sense of community that everyone at the dojo has developed over the years. When I was being congratulated by everyone is was not a feeling of a Sensei, Sempai, or even a fellow student giving me a pat on the back and saying “job well done.” It was as if I was surrounded by a family who was truly proud of what I had just accomplished.