It's been awhile since my last post. However, my training has not stopped despite the passing of sensei. In fact we have not missed a single training session. Somehow being on the mat with others who knew sensei allows us to capture his essence. I have been wondering what to write about. The culture of our dojo has changed now, as to be expected. I think this post will simply be an opportunity to reflect on some of those changes.
The first point I would like to mention is that I have realised how much I relied on sensei to make sure I was doing everything correctly. I did not own my learning as much as I could have. In fact I think many members of the dojo feel this way. As a group we have had to take up the mantle and forge ahead providing our own direction. One of us is a licensed instructor but the reality is we are all learning this art together and the knowledge and skills as a collective are now more important than simply relying on one exceptional martial artist to pull us along. This means taking turns running certain aspects of the class. For example we have been asked by the senior member to take turns leading the body conditioning exercises at the start of every Saturday class. We all adhere to the main principles of the exercises but each have our own take on them. It has been interesting to see and hear the others' interpretations of them.
The second change to the group as a whole is that, for me anyway, the group is now tighter for having gone through the grief of losing sensei. I have two young children and they are associating with these people more often. It is nice to know they will most likely grow up around people who I trust and respect. I am trying to involve myself more in the other activities outside of the training sessions. Make my presence felt by the others to show my full support. Of course this is limited by family and work obligations.
This brings me to my third point. I didn't realise it at the time but the eight or so other people I train with on that mat I count as friends. I don't say that lightly. I keep a very small group of people in my 'friend zone' and I feel privileged to count my dojo partners in that group. Of course the strong support from Toby Threadgill and hombu also mean we still have a source of guidance and structure in place to continue growing in our practice.
So on the whole the passing of sensei has strengthened the group. It is something very positive for us to take from such a sad experience. I am a realist about this though and some people had been shaky on their commitment when sensei first passed, mostly from shock I expect but we have supported one another and I hope for the sake of the art and for the effort sensei put into us, that we don't lose too many people. Of course like me, some of the others have attacked their training with even more vigour than before, determined to keep the flame burning.