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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Things I don't want to be

I've been inspired in martial arts by many people, young and old.  I've also noticed a few things I'd like to avoid like a plague. Here are two things I try to avoid, with only partial success:

Fear #1  Too Much Talking, Not Enough Kicking
photo by Joel Ford
You've been in one of those classes, where the instructor just talks and talks and talks and you never quite have a chance to get your martial groove on.  I live in fear of being that instructor.  I know what I'm thinking as they drone on, and I hope that no one ever thinks that about me.

Sure, sure, we have loads of inspiration and wisdom to share.  But actually, they don't really want to hear it right now.
 Maybe the trick is to weave those messages INTO the workout.  Or... make the workout so challenging that once the students truly need a brief rest, we could use that short break time to impart a piece of our vast knowledge.

I'm positive that I am guilty of excessive speaking in classes, so as soon as I see that glazed-over look on a student, or worse! that tolerant patience from an adult, I try to wrap it up and get the class moving.  But what if I don't notice?  Then Plan B goes into effect:  I have shared this fear with my staff and we have a secret hand sign that they can give if I start getting ponderous.

Fear #2  Becoming an Old Fart
Let me not become so old and crusty that I can't appreciate the skills of the next generation!  What is it about senior martial artists that they think their generation are the best and ONLY proper practitioners?  Personally, I think it's jealousy.  I'm thinking that most of us long-lifers won't be invited to Team Hyper, or whatever those sick freaks are called.  And yes, I think everyone knows that those flippy kicks are not practical.  Do we really need another lecture about application?  I'm certain the people who can do that stuff can also deliver a simple side kick when they need to.  I have to accept that my old school jump kicks are just not as cool as a hook-jackknife-sideswipe-butterflytwist-swingthrough gainer (no, I have no idea what that is, I just saw it in a tricking forum).  

I get so frustrated reading articles about how no one under 18 should be allowed to earn the rank of black belt.  Really?  My 4-year-old almost broke my nose in a tickle fight.  And in case you haven't been paying attention, martial arts has changed a bit in the past 20 years.  Women never used to train either, should they be restricted from earning black belt rank?  I mean after all, no way can a woman generate as much power as a man, right?  (Don't get me started.)

If you want to go to a knock-em-out, to-the-death academy to earn your "real" black belt, then go on.  They are definitely still out there.  But don't be pasting your cro-magnon standards onto every martial art out there.  Most academies that I know are very up front about their focus, whether it is tournament competition, character development, fitness, families, tradition, the red pill, or tiny tigers.  People have legitimate reasons to train in martial arts besides just physical domination.

I do love to trade stories about the ole' days, training outside in the snow in bare feet (I have a friend who actually did that), and sometimes I think these newbies have it easy in some ways.  For example, we are no longer allowed to strike students with a stick when they make a mistake.  That makes my job harder.  But maybe these new-fangled methods have actually made martial arts accessible to a whole new class of students, and I just need to keep up with the action.  Word.  (that's still hip, right?  /sigh)

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