On Sunday, I found myself in a church in Mt. Eliza with my family (Nyree and Jasmine). I was attending the Christening of Gareth Lewis (Sensei Richard's youngest son), and I had the distinct honour of being asked for the position of Godfather. I had never been asked to be a Godfather before (or sponsors as they are now sometimes called). It was a very interesting ceremony, and I remember looking around often at the congregation. Here I was, in a sacred place and surrounded by people I didn't know (I had never even met the other Godparents!), yet I felt very comfortable. Not only because my own family were in attendance (Jasmine stole the show with her 'special' dancing), but because I was genuinely being invited into another family, one of spiritual, not necessarily Christian, significance. I have had a long relationship with Sensei Richard, a man I hold in high esteem already, and now I was part responsible for ensuring that Gareth spiritual growth throughout his life is a strong one. I left the church that day very thankful for my own family and my life in general.
After this, however, I headed for an event I had been looking forward to for a while. In the afternoon, I was fortunate enough to attend the first Australian DNBK Tai Kai. Some of the members of the Dojo belong to the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai - International Division (General Members), an organisation that has a very long and proud history in Japan for fostering the 'Budo Spirit'.
I accompanied Soke, Sempai Matthew, Sempai Cyril and Shamus to the Tai Kai (or gathering) in Reservoir. There we were treated to various workshops covering Jujutsu, Iaido and Jodo. We met up with some old friends and made some new ones also. It was a great day with the Tai Kai culinating in a 2-hour demonstration period where every Dojo demonstrated the various arts they practised and displayed their waza. We were there on the invitation of Renshi Kevin Walsh of Idokan Australia and one of the co-ordinators for Australia for the DNBK. The other co-ordinator, Hugh Doherty, is Yamagawa's patron to the organisation and was in attendance also. Here I found myself in a beautiful Dojo, surrounded by Martial Artists who were all there to train and learn (and some of them teach). I re-couped, a little, some of the 'spirit' I felt, especially with Doherty Sensei being there, that I felt in Kyoto last year. A great sense of family and sharing was felt - something I meditated on with pleasure later that evening.
Throughout the week, as some of you know, I teach many classes of a Martial Arts and Philosophical nature. Teaching Martial Arts and Life Skills programs across different schools (and the Dojo of course) allows me to gain many perspectives. I get the opportunity to observe different behaviours, both in individuals and families, and this week has been enlightening to say the least. This week I was very pleased to see someone new down the Dojo, someone who has always been welcome but probably not had the time to come down before.
One of the classes I taught this week had me paying particular attention to a young man who had been having serious problems with their father. It is amazing how much each of us has the ability to affect others, and most of the time it is in ways that we can never truly know. After having some words with this young man, I found out that he loved the classes I was teaching and that he looked forward to them every week, something which was corroborated by his teacher.
I also recieved some feedback this week from a concerned mother. She felt comfortable enough to let me know how much her child appreciates the classes and that she was concerned about a few things. I don't recall these things to say how much Fudoshin and Martial Philosophy can and does help people, but mainly to amphasis the following point: family is precious.
This week, I have been a father, husband, son, brother, mentor, teacher, Sensei, friend, confidant, friend, colleague, student and listener. I have operated as these things across the varying networks and 'families' of my life. The Dojo serves as a great 'family' where we commit ourselves to training. Training to destroy the ego and strengthen our spirit. The greater lessons in Martial Arts are about compassion, benevolence, patience and community. All the great masters of old had special insights into this. Our 'Fudoshin Family' is about helping our fellow students to achieve their potential, without concern for ours. This way, we are looking after each other, and in doing so we look after ourselves.
- A brother reached out to another and spoke about the importance of Budo and commitment in training.
- A Prep class learnt the value of being safe as well as sincere...and gave lots of hugs.
- A warrior bled in mock battle and was proud, apologetic and dissappointed at the same time.
- A mother realised how lucky she is to have good people doing something amongst the many apathetic people doing nothing in her sons life.
- A student who has a hard time not being a teacher relished in being a student again, if only for 10 minutes.
- A teacher realised how hard some students work in doing things that seem so simple for other students.
- A colleague and friend went out on a limb and refused to give up on someone on principal, despite how easy it would have been to let it all go.
- A teacher gained a new appreciation for how long a little encouragement can go with young people.
- A student learnt that quite often, underneath alot of anger and violence, some people just need a pinch of understanding
- A friend remembered the true value of friendship
...what did you learn this week?