Reflections on Training
April 25, 2005
March 2005 marked the end of a chapter in my life, as a job change required my family and I to move from Ohio to California. During my year and a half at the Dayton Dojo under the excellent tutelage of Sensei Sukh Sandhu, I learned a lot about this art, my warrior brothers and sisters, and my spirit. Training is always a combination of reward and challenge, but my greatest challenge came on my last night of training in Dayton.
At the completion of every training session, Sensei has us all sit down to discuss the evenings training while it is still fresh in our minds. Most of the time we discuss specific difficulties of certain techniques, or tips to mastery and understanding of those techniques. This night was no different except Sensei asked me a difficult question: “What was the most important thing you have learned in your time here?” Wow, talk about dropping the bomb! While this was no easy question, I pondered it for a moment and answered “awareness”.
In retrospect, everything we did, everything we learned, and every beating we received was designed to enhance our awareness. I remember the first time I truly understood this. I was practicing a sword kata with a certain redhead in our dojo. My zanshin was not what it should have been and at the completion of the exercise, my opponent ‘stabbed’ me with his shinai! At first I was a bit disgruntled with him but pressed on. At the next repetition, he did it again! What was this guy’s problem anyway? It was then that I realized he was not being mean, he was trying to teach me something. When training, keep up your intent and your awareness of your opponent. Don’t fall into the ‘its just training’ hole because some day it may not just be training and all you will have to rely on is bad habits.
From then on, I tried to focus on being mentally prepared for training and being aware of my surroundings and my opponent. I made a conscious decision not to be one of these people running through life with blinders on. This lesson, as with so many others, are why I can’t wait for the next opportunity to train with my Dayton brethren. With Sensei Sandhu and the Jinenkan, I found not only a martial art, but also a new way of life and a new family.