(It's a great blog...) Anyway, the topic of discussion was how contagious enthusiasm is.
My classes are on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Monday nights are the hardest, because after working all day, I'm usually just not "feeling it," but I leave that behind, when I enter the dojo. No matter how tired I am, whatever else I have going on in my life, the second I hit the doors of the dojo, all of it falls away. This not only gives me a break from the strain of everyday living, but even if I'm totally exhausted before class, by the time the class is over, I'm drenched in sweat and I feel GREAT!
The converse is also true: We have a young brown-belt in our class that has been taking karate since he was a young boy. I don't know if he's just bored or just has a lack of energy, or what... His lack of enthusiasm is a real bummer, and it drags the level of the class down. It's like everything he does is just half-hearted. Honestly, I try not to look at him much, and instead, focus on myself and what I'm doing, and look to others in class, who are giving their all, for inspiration... Last Monday evening, we worked on fighting up from the ground, and for the first time, he showed some real enthusiasm, speed, and focus. I inwardly cheered for him... Everyone was enthusiastic and focused, and because of this, it was an awesome class!
When I first started out, getting this 41-year old body to cooperate, was like trying to push a truck... Every class left me aching, tired, and shook my faith in myself. That's all changed, now. I've dropped ten pounds, and the tougher and more demanding a class is, my only thought is, BRING IT ON!! I look forward to each class, feel myself growing stronger, leaner, more flexible, faster, and more coordinated, and I now have unshakable faith that I will see this through to black-belt and beyond.
I'm glad that the majority of pupils in my dojo are focused and enthusiastic. I know that this is gratifying to our Sensei. I've taught various classes on a variety of topics, especially during my years in the Army. When students just sit back and act like they are there under duress, and act like they have no enthusiasm or interest, it makes it difficult for me to teach with fire and enthusiasm. When I find a student that is interested, engaged, and enthusiastic, it fires me up, too. I find that I want to teach that student as much as I possibly can, because s/he is a willing recipient. The whole teacher/student relationship becomes something that is mutually beneficial and mutually inspiring. Knowing this, I do my best to extrapolate that to being a student in my dojo.
And far from being mindless cheerleading, or like a Jack Russell terrier overloaded on espresso, it just means giving absolutely 100%. By giving every bit of effort I can; by giving 100%, my own sense of honor is satisfied. When class is over, a great peace blooms within me. My conscience is clear, my spirit feels cleansed, and the other knots in my life that previously seemed so complicated, seem to suddenly unravel and the road through all of it emerges straight and shining before me.
And finally, if, by my own focus and enthusiasm, I can inspire others and somehow elevate the level of the class, then that's just the cherry on top.