“A Soft Spot to Land”
GoDan Dojo-Cho the Atlanta Gi Yu Dojo
The Atlanta workshop last weekend was not unlike many of the workshops before, but was unique in a few ways. First, it was the first spring workshop that we have held in January. Scheduling difficulties with Sensei forced our bi-annual workshop to occur earlier in the year than usual. Unfortunately, we had the fewest number of students who were able to attend from out of town. It is a tough time of year to have a workshop, right after the holidays, and getting time off is difficult, if not impossible, so I greatly appreciate Brittney for making the trip to Atlanta. Finally, on this trip we were able to install our new floor for the dojo. We have been using old flooring that at one time could be called “mats,” but have long ago lost their ability to provide cushion for anything but the lightest of falls. I would love to take credit for the mats, but I can’t. Sensei purchased the mats for our dojo as a gift and had them shipped down. I had no knowledge of what he was planning. I have become accustomed to some of Sensei’s little surprises over the years, but it is safe to say that when I returned home from work late one Friday evening in November to find a large box truck in my driveway, I was stunned. After a full weekend as Sensei’s uke performing the grappling techniques of the Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu, my back was very appreciative of the new mats.
Now, I would like to think that Sensei bought the mats for me and our group because I am such a great guy. I do count him as one of my closest friends. But, I believe the primary reason for Sensei’s purchase is his steadfast passion for the art that we study and his unwavering belief in its power to change a person’s life. And, if it can change one person’s life, it can change a household. If it can change one household, it can change a neighborhood; and if it can change a neighborhood, it can change a whole community… and on and on and on. I had trained for many years and never heard any teacher discuss this ideal, until I heard Sensei talk about this type of change. Before then, I had trained with a narrow focus with only myself in mind. But, because of Sensei, I know now that training is about more than just learning to fight. And, at some point, we should feel the desire and the responsibility to share with others what we have learned from training.
Sensei has already found his path, yet, he has taken on a great burden to not only help all of us find our own path, but to continually push, prod, and encourage us down that path. That is not something for us to take lightly. It takes a lot of energy to be the catalyst for not just yourself, but a whole group of people. Sensei invests not just money in people; but time. Time that can never be regained. The mats are just an example of what Sensei felt we needed at the time to further our path. I know Sensei has done many other things for people to help them in their time of need or provide them with something that was needed, but had gone unfulfilled. For example: helping someone move, staying late after training to help someone with a personal problem, or providing assistance in times of financial need have nothing at all to do with training. But, helping people get past these tough times in their lives is crucial to getting people back in the dojo and back on their path. These actions that go above and beyond the typical supermarket martial arts teacher, demonstrate the character of the man doing all of those things and his focus. I believe his focus is doing whatever he can to keep you on your path. It is easy to stray and forget how we have changed and all of the hard work we have put into the art. But, Sensei has been there since most of us have started; he has seen the “before” and “after” pictures and can attest to the change.
So, I thank Sensei Sandhu for the investment in all of us here in Atlanta. It means so much more than just a soft spot to land.