Last weekend I graded for my purple belt in Shorinji Kan. I'm happy to announce that I passed. :) After the grading, a course was put on by Andy Dobie Sensei (head of Jitsu Canada) and Steve Hiscoe Shihan (heir apparent to the style of Can-ryu). We were all told that we would find out the results of the grading after the course. I was told to go ahead and change into my Can-ryu gi and black belt, but this of course led to a humourous belt presentation later on.
They called up each candidate to receive their new belts one at a time. When it came to me, Dobie Sensei said, "Hmmm... now where did she go?", then looked at me in the Dan line-up and said, "Oh, there you are!" He even referred to me as O'Connell Sensei when he called me to receive my belt. Since we were taking photos of everyone with their new belts afterwards, I switched my gi, put on my purple belt, then lined up with all the Kyu-ranked students. It was all very amusing. I was proud to be demoted from Yondan to purple belt. :P In the photo below, me and some former white belts are tossing up our previous belts, graduation style.
The course was awesome. Hiscoe Shihan started by teaching handcuffing techniques, which was interesting because this is not something on our usual curriculum. That's the benefit of having the law enforcement influence. Dobie Sensei followed up by showing a number of takedowns with strong emphasis on kuzushi (balance breaking), which everyone appreciated.
These combination style courses are great for students to attend. They get to see different instructors, different styles and different perspectives. I always walk away having learned something and enjoy seeing my students talking excitedly afterwards about the new experience. If you have the opportunity to attend these types of events, I highly recommend it.
I was asked by a few students why I would grade in Shorinji Kan for Kyu belts when I already have my Yondan in Can-ryu. It's all about keeping up with my learning. There is always more you can learn, more you can improve, but sometimes it's hard to get solid training time in when you're an instructor. It's easier to focus on your own learning when someone else is in charge. I've seen many an instructor become complacent in their own learning to the point that they become stagnant and start losing interest. For me to keep my enthusiasm up, for both teaching and training, it's important for me to train outside my own dojo. I chose Shorinji Kan because I wanted to focus a bit more on throwing (which they specialize in more than we do), plus I have the benefit of having an in-house Shodan in that style at my own dojo.
Are you an instructor who cross-trains in another style? What style did you choose and why?