Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beginners: Relaxation and Communication

When you first step on the training room floor, it can be an intimidating experience. You're surrounded by strangers, wearing strange and uncomfortable clothing, and everyone seems to be speaking another language. It takes time to become comfortable with this new environment.

You will hear your instructors talk about relaxation. Relaxation is the key to speed. Relaxation is the key to flexibility. These aren't just lessons about your technique performance. Every lesson you learn in the studio has applications beyond the physical. If your mind is tight, (kime), you will hear less and learn slower. Instead, you must learn to cultivate the flowing mind, (mushin). Then you will be open to knowledge, and you will learn to love your mistakes, because they will contain new lessons.

Communicate with those around you. Ask questions. Learn names. To misquote Samuel Clemens, "familiarity breeds comfort." It's scary to get hit by strangers, it's less scary to get hit by your buddies. Let your instructors and your training partners know where you are at physically and mentally. Everybody's training experience is better when there is clear communication. Voice your concerns, and be generous with your praise. Never be afraid to ask for help. If you see that someone has a great front kick, ask them to show you how they got there. Someday new beginners will be asking you.

Every Master, of every skill, was a beginner once. The only difference between you and them is how many times they showed up to class.

Drills -
Beginner: Next time you're at the school, take a moment to close your eyes and feel the energy of the room. Try to sense the atmosphere of the space and make it your own. After all, it's your school too.

Intermediate: Take the time to attend a beginner class every once in a while. You'll be an example to the new students and you'll get to see just how far you've come in your own training.

Advanced: Help the beginner students with their material. You wouldn't be here without brown and black belts who pulled you up behind them. Now it's your responsibility to pass on the knowledge you have gained, just as it has always been. Master to student, hand to hand, for thousands of years.

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