Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Gives You the Teaching Jitters?

I've been teaching martial arts for going on two decades now. I'm pretty comfortable in my skin when it comes to teaching, at my own dojo, at other people's dojos, even at major training events. There is, however, one thing that still gives me the teaching jitters after all these years: teaching in front of my Sensei.

Last Thursday I taught at my Sensei's dojo in Ottawa. I taught some of the ground defense concepts I've been working with and teaching my own students. Every time my Sensei would come onto the mats, I found that I would get nervous and wouldn't be my usual confident self. I've taught in front of other heads of styles before with no problems, but with Ed Hiscoe Sensei, it's different.

He remembers me from the time that I was only 16 and a lowly white belt trying Jiu-jitsu for the first time. He remembers all my awkward years as a teenager. He remembers the times when I was first learning to teach as a brand new Shodan. And it's not so much that he remembers all those things, it's that I remember all the nervousness and lack of sureness in myself associated with those times, and somehow it manages to creep in when he's on the mat while I'm teaching.

Hiscoe Sensei ended up watching most of the class I taught from the other room on his dojo video system, making the class go more smoothly for me (which I know he did on purpose). I'm sure that one day I'll get over it, but I have to say that his willingness to help me by doing that put me a few steps further in that direction because it demonstrated his empathy for my situation and that, on some level, says to me, "You see? It's only in your head." It was an effective way of conveying that message.

Are you a martial arts instructor? What gives YOU the teaching jitters? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

90 Years of Jiu-jitsu Experience in 3 Cool Instructors

Firstly, I want to apologize for the delay in my blog writing. Last weekend, attended a Jiu-jitsu seminar in Sicamous and was away for 4 days, so I had a few things to catch up on. Now, I'd like to do a little run-down on the seminar.

A lot of times when you go to these types of events, there is a weak link in the instruction. I'm happy to say, however, that all 3 of the weekend's instructors were just awesome. Collectively, Andie Dobie Sensei (Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu), Steve Hiscoe Shihan (Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu) and Michael Seamark Shihan (Kokodo Jiu-jitsu) have over 90 years of martial arts experience between them, and it showed in their instruction (left to right in the pic below). They were like 3 peas in a pod of pure pain.

The participants in the event thoroughly enjoyed being twisted up, punched, squeezed, and slammed. The instructors never seemed to be without a smile when teaching (unless demonstrating their "mean face"). I'm not sure I can say the same for their ukes.

Steve Hiscoe Shihan also introduced us to a fun new "game." He created some Can-ryu Challenge coins (see pic on left). The idea is that you carry this coin on your person and if you whip it out to someone and say "Challenge!" they have to produce their own coin (if they have one). If the challengee doesn't have one, they must buy the challenger a drink. If they do have one, then the challenger has to buy. I got the ball rolling with my own coin (Sorry Dobie Sensei!). It didn't take long before people started buying their own (thankfully!).

Anyway, we all really got our money's worth, having learned/refined techniques, made new friends and shared drinks (so to speak). It was very successful and expect that it will be even better attended next year (we're gonna need more mats!). I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to train under such fine martial artists.