So, I have a friend that teaches Kali and he teaches it well. In his bio he says he learns the most from his students, which is really cool and I appreciate the mindset. I get where he’s coming from. Students force, sometimes challengingly, instructors to teach differently. Personally, I have many students who need to be taught the same curriculum differently and for different reasons. This makes the journey of the martial artist and martial arts instructor mesh. As an instructor you learn worlds more about the art for several reasons in this capacity. You have to be able to convey the effectiveness of the art: why it works. You have to be able to illustrate the art completely through all techniques: The methodology. You have to be willing to let certain things go (at least the way I see it), for example when a student really should have the rear foot in a fighting stance turned a 1/16 of an inch to the right. Sometimes this is important and sometimes it really isn’t. The art must be alive but also structured. Its difficult and anyone who says differently…is a way better instructor than I will ever be.
One of my common remarks in teaching is “Make sure you practice.” There it is…the word….”practice”
More on that in a little bit. As I was saying earlier, instructors learn from students. The sweet lady who cleans my teeth twice a year…”Make sure you floss.” Like that’s going to happen. To be honest, it happens more than it used to because of her. My pastor says “Read your Bible and dive into the word.” This is obviously more important than flossing. But what I tell myself is “I’ll do it later.” ‘Later’ or ‘someday’ becomes a magical land where we all solve our problems and stuff gets done. Where the magic happens. Where we’re all great and efficient and accountable. We all talk about this place while in reality we’ve never been there. I started looking into Proverbs (Christian flossing) a little more. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m just saying that if I’m preaching to my students then I need to listen to what the preacher says. Obviously there are plenty of people out there that know more than I do. Why wouldn’t I do these things? I cant be worthwhile unless I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I wont get better at what makes me…me unless I work at it.
Another friend of mine had made an interesting comment years ago and I’ve never forgotten it as it sent chills up my spine to think about what comes ‘after’. He said, “I do this as much as possible, because at some point I’ll stop doing this because I wont be able to.” This still echo’s in my brain now and then. We all take time for granted to one extent or another. But to put it in terms of having to stop at some point because we wont be physically able is a finality that is so inevitable and you know its coming. So, in a sense we’re almost out of time. So, we should make the most of this…whatever “this” is. We don’t have the time…we make the time.
I have some of the greatest conversations with students during my week. With my advanced students we occasionally talk about practice. Oftentimes they try to tell me they don’t have the time. Really? I usually call off a handful of techniques. I have them do said techniques 3 times each. I then inform them at a minimum, it took them 2 and 1/2 to 5 minutes to do this. 150 seconds! Same thing with push ups. I’d like for you to practice push ups at home is usually met with “I don’t have time”. I then show them that it takes 15 seconds to do 10+ push ups.
“You don’t have 15-20 seconds?” There’s always time….its all around us. My JKD instructor has shown me that time is imperative in self defense. A couple of seconds make the difference in victory and defeat. He devotes countless hours to his craft and it shows. It makes me want to be better than what I am and I’ll share this personal fact…I have a fear of being average or ordinary. We all have these and I believe in some cases people fear their endless potential to be great and they drown themselves in idle activity or non-activity. I used to be scared of succeeding. If I dare to be great…then what? Then you make a difference. Hopefully you inspire someone to dare to be great. To have passion. To fulfill a dream. To be a better version of themselves. Hopefully you inspire someone to shy away from blaming lack of time for lack of passion.
You cant be better unless you invest in yourself. School is a prime example. You usually don’t make good grades unless you work at it. If we look at this in terms of Kempo, you must incorporate daily practice to get better. You wont have a solid dragon wrist grab or well executed one kata unless you invest in yourself. If you don’t push yourself and make good grades you become less likely to succeed or excel in a chosen field. A lot of times I hear someone doesn’t have time because of school. Again, a few minutes is all you need and daily practice for an advanced belt can be sculpted down to 20 minutes a day/night and that is covering everything. When someone tells me they don’t have time I ask them about their video games. How can you not have time? At my school you don’t get to black belt and beyond on a list of could’ve and should’ve.
Value the education and the time. The education is yours to keep. There are countless references in history of people who stood up and kept history alive for people to gain an education in something. Where would we be if they all said “I just don’t have the time.” or “I’m too busy” or “I’ll do it later”??
By the way…don’t forget to floss.