Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Advantage student = Disadvantage teacher

    I started learning martial arts while in college.  I had never done anything similar to it before.  I had done sports in middle and high school.  I played football (American style for our worldly friends) and did several track and field events.  However, the first time I stepped into the Yamagata ryu bujutsu dojo, I was asked to do a forward roll.  So I did.  It wasn't perfect, but it was good.  Much better than it should have been.  For whatever reason, I could do rolls instantly.  I never needed instruction in it.  Maybe, because I'm short, I had less of a fall to worry about, I don't know.  Backlund Sensei asked where I had learned rolls, and I didn't have an answer for him.  He nodded and went on teaching.  I'm not saying this to brag.  In fact, I'm saying this was a disadvantage in the long run.
    As a student, it was good for me to have this, or any, basic skill down.  I could move past that and keep learning new material.  It was something I didn't have to spend time learning.  I could spend time learning more "martial arts stuff."  You know, punching, kicking, swinging a katana, and throwing people to the ground.  The things people join the martial arts for.  As a student, it is good to learn basics quickly, just not too quickly.
    As a now older instructor, I wish I had to learn rolling.  Why?  Because it was natural to me, and I have no way to instruct it.  I can obviously see this is a skill that many people have problems with.  It is my job as instructor to help them acquire this skill.  Because I never "learned" it, I can't teach it.  I'm having to watch other instructors show people how to teach rolls.  In a way, I'm learning to teach by vicariously learning with new students.  I watch the instructions, and see what helps and doesn't help.
    So I guess what I'm saying, is enjoy the frustration of learning a skill.  Especially if it is a difficult one, where you have to practice it a lot before you feel comfortable with it.  The learning process is important, and it could end up helping you out a lot more than the "natural" athlete who gets it very quickly.  I don't know how many times, the physically ungifted one will be the one who sticks it out to learn the most, and even becomes the best instructors.

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