Thursday, February 14, 2008

Memoirs of a Travelling Sensei

I normally post every other day, so you might have been wondering where I've been. I've actually been on a bit of a training holiday in Ottawa, my home town. In addition to visiting my family, I've been visiting two Jiu-jitsu dojos frequented by Chris, one of my former students who is a brown belt in the style of Shorinjikan Jiu-jitsu in addition to having trained in my style.

Even though I'm a black belt in a style of Jiu-jitsu, this does not mean it isn't a humbling experience to walk into a dojo of another style. There are always differences to learn from. In Shorinjikan, for example, they do a wider variety of throws and subsequently a wider variety of breakfalls.

The first class I went to I was thrown in with all the students to do their regular breakfalls with the caveat that I can opt out of any of the falls if they look unfamiliar. There was this one very simple-looking roll they do that they call a judo roll. It looks very similar to the roll that we do except one leg is kept straight during the roll. This one difference makes the roll very different. Of course, instead of opting out of the rotation to learn the technique of it first, I just threw myself in there. The yellow belts were doing it and I couldn't help but be affected by foolish pride. As a result, I completed the roll, slamming my heel into the mat causing a nasty bruise.

The next class, I requested to be taught the fall off to the side as I ought to have done the first day. I'm happy to report that I'm now starting to get the hang of it.

When you get to a higher rank as I have, it is easy to expect more of yourself than is reasonable. As a result, some people in my position will tend to dismiss techniques or training methods that prove difficult at the onset. It's important to keep an open mind and learn something new fully before making any kind of judgment. This is true whether you're a white belt or a high-ranking Dan. But, in a lot of ways, the more years of training under your belt, the harder it is to do.

Thankfully, the dojo heads have not judged me harshly for my lack of ability with their breakfalls as I have been invited to teach at one of their classes this evening. :)

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