Friday, July 23, 2010

Attitudes Redoux

Last night, I went through the Seisan kata with our brown belt, and we went over and over and over it, before class started. He's coming along, and I am glad to help him. He had his belt tied correctly, too. :-)

I overheard the white belt asking questions of Sensei, when we were doing drills. I think his interest is finally beginning to pique, and that's a good thing. Between a couple of drills, I caught his eye, grabbed my belt, and motioned to his, raising an eyebrow and grinning. This time, he let me help him. I tried to show him by untying my belt and having him follow me, but he still wasn't getting it, so I had him untie his belt, and I tied it for him. I'll probably have to show him a few more times, but he thanked me.

The last third of class, we were working on kicks. Front snap kicks, crescent kicks, heel strike/thrust kicks, etc. I was next to the white belt, and his kicks weren't really coming together, so I explained to him that kicks don't start with the foot; they start with the hip, go to the chambered knee, and the lower leg and foot comes out like a whip, and that the hip is like the handle of the whip. He and I went through a few kicks, and I saw the little light-bulb come on. Very gratifying for us both, I think. :-)

I'm pretty sure his mother has forced him to take karate, for whatever reason, so I'm sure that accounts for part of his attitude, in the beginning. Also, as I reflect on his attitude last week, I'm thinking that he was probably embarrassed, so he tried to cover his lack of knowledge, but heck, we don't know what we don't know, so I was glad to help him out.

I always try to see the best in people, and inwardly, I'm cheering for this kid. He only shows up on Mondays and Thursdays, so I don't get much time to work with him on stuff. I wish he would show up on Saturdays, to the freestyle classes, when there's a lot more time... Ah well... I'm glad he's coming along. I hope his interest continues to grow, and correspondingly, his level of effort.

Last night, I had my belt ceremony and was given my orange belt and kyu certificate. Very gratifying, but the sheer amount of work ahead of me, between orange and green belt, is a little daunting.

For whatever reason, the Naihanchin kata is just not sinking in... It's a short kata, but lord... I feel stooooopid!! Hahaha! I'll get it, though. It's like learning a new piece on the piano: At first, it's stilted, jerky, and very halting, and it stays that way for a long time. It's discouraging.... Then, one day, for whatever reason, I sit down at the keys and the song takes a huge leap and it's smoother and more cohesive.

I think that learning a new kata is a lot like that...


  1. Your two newbies seem to be settling in better now. Sounds like you get a lot out of helping them - it will be rewarding for you as well as them as they make progress.:-)

  2. Oh yes... And especially with the brown belt. We went over the Seisan kata again and again, yesterday. I don't mind a bit. With someone who's trying, I am as patient as mountains. What really felt good though, is that I was able to modify my previously negative opinion of the white belt, and he really was happy for the help.

    As a new karateka, there is so much information coming at him so fast, that maybe he was feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by it. I can understand that, if that's what the problem is/was, and hopefully, I can help him break things down into smaller steps, so rather than feeling discouraged, he will begin to feel successful. Nothing breeds motivation like a little success. It primes the pump and sets the stage for bigger successes! :-)

  3. I know for me, when I started Wing Chun, I had a hard time "getting" a lot of the concepts and principles. I would have to be told constantly to watch for this, check my stance, this doesn't work in this case because X, etc.

    Then I started getting the basics, and more concepts started sinking in and now, I feel like I really "get" the system now. I don't know everything of course, but every time my sifu explains a new technique or a new application of an old one, I think, "oh but of course" and I don't have it down, but I immediately understand the surface of it.

    Kind of the same thing playing the piano, reading sheet music, or sculpting, etc. At first the principles are perplexing but once you pick up on the patterns and how everything relates, the next thing you learn isn't so hard to understand and so on.

    Glad those guys are comin' along, Frank. Even if the white belt was forced into taking the classes, hopefully he'll find something enriching about the experience. There's something in it for everyone. :)

  4. Thanks, Jimmy! I get so much out of teaching and showing, too. There's a line in Richard Bach's, "Illusions," We teach best that which we need to learn most.

    As I've been going very slowly, step-by-step through the Seisan kata with Brad (the brown belt), explaining each movement and the application behind it, I'm learning more. I'm perfecting my own stances, the shifts and transitions between stances, and perfecting my own technique. I absolutely love teaching and showing people new things and helping them.

    Just like when I was explaining to the white belt about starting kicks from the hip: That's exactly the thing I've been working on lately, and throwing the hip first, is something that occurred to me from my own practice of the low kick that I came up with, a couple of weeks ago. Without first throwing the hip, the move leaves me off-balance, and the kick itself is weak and ineffective. Throwing the hip first is what really makes it POP and come alive!

    When I overheard the white belt asking questions about different blocks and stuff, I smiled inwardly and thought, Okay; Here we go! YES! :-)

    I love seeing others succeed, and like seeing their eyes light up when they really get a concept. :-)

  5. I would give anything to be in your class so that you could help me out!!!! It is really sad to be in a class and feel lost, I was in a few classes where some of the students were helping me before and after the class, but no one really cared enough to give me a little time.
    Helping out with what you have already mastered is such a gift from your heart!!!!!! Your dedication is admirable and I wish there were more people as disciplinary and dedicated as you are!!!! The real problem is most people just care about themselves and not anyone else!!
    Don't stop what you are doing, is a gift for those around you!!

  6. Thank you, Irma! Keep showing up to your class. It takes a couple of months of showing up and doing your best, and people will begin helping you out. It's kind of sad that it is that way, but in most dojos, there are people who show up to a couple of classes and then quit. It's constant. It really sucks to invest the time and effort to help someone out, only for them to quit after a few classes. When I need help, I usually have to ask someone, because people don't just volunteer the information, you know? People usually are just self-centered, because they are also focused on their own training.

    Does your dojo have freestyle classes? Can you show up fifteen minutes early and get help?

    Thank you so much, and very best of heart, training, and luck to you, Irma!