Friday, November 5, 2010

How I Learned to Be a Student

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Anonymous said...

That's an interesting essay and it shows a good attitude, which in turn reflects well on the teacher. I recognise a lot of myself in Chris' experiences: I too am what can be considered an advanced student (1st kyu, close to black belt) and I too have had my moments of cockiness and intolerance towards other systems and styles. It's important to recognise this, as Chris did, and ameliorate the situation in order to optimalize one's learning curve and get the most out of the time spent training (time being in limited supply). It's good to be proud of ones achievements and the skill-level one had attained but it can also become a hinderance towards ones development, if you allow your ego to stand in the way of true insight and a realistic outlook on life and training. Personally I do try to keep an open mind and what I find most humbling is comparing my skill-level with those above me, especially my teacher: of course I know a lot of what he knows (at least when it comes to JJ since we're both from the same style and dojo) but he's simply better at it and what's most impressive is the ease with which he flows from technique to technique, seemingly effortless and without thought, combining elements from JJ, muay thai, kali, JKD... That is what I strive to become: a complete martial artist, a competent technician, an able fighter and a good teacher... There's obviously still a lot to learn (especially about teaching and other styles) but I know I'm on the right path and if I just persevere someday I'll get there, with the help of some very gifted and kind teachers and the feedback I receive from students. 'By endurance we conquer', cfr. lord Shackleton, the conquer of the south pole.

Friday there were two new prospective students on the mat, one of the variety that is completely opposite to what Chris described as a good student: apparantly she has experience in the martial arts (I think taekwondo or something of that nature) and man was she cocky: she even had the nerve to publicly question certain techniques... According to her a punch to the nose is ineffective (jee, want to try?), aswell as a knee to the tight (a staple in kali and thai-boxing). Friday we practiced boxing covers (single, double and peek-a-boo) and she thought this ridiculous: the reason was quite unclear but then she demonstrated a swaying-motion with no cover whatsoever (apparantly from taekwondo), which left her completely out of balance and she nearly fell on her ass... I trained with her for a while and apparantly I have no control whatsoever (I've never injured anyone in my 10 years of training, I just don't understand why you'd want to train in a martial art such as JJ if you're not comfortable with close bodily contact) and apparantly I'm not worth the belt I'm wearing: all this while her own skill was very limited and her locks completely failed, even after I showed her how. She seems to think our style is quite worthless yet she's decided to return on wednesday: go figure. I don't understand sensei actually tolerated such rudeness: I would have told her to step off the matt and never return since her attitude completely stinks and it's clear you can never learn if you refuse to empty your cup...

Truly a reminder of a person and a martial artist I never want to become. I can only pity the people that have to tolerate her on a regular basis.


Journeyman said...

One of the reasons that I started my journey over again is because I had lost some of what it was to be a good student. I had lost some of the beginner's mind.

Looking back, I realize that I had become quite quick to judge and discard techniques I felt had no merit without fully exploring them.

When we lose the beginner's mind, we cease to improve. Great essay and congratulations on your accomplishment.