Saturday, September 09, 2006

Just because you have a black belt, doesn't mean you know squat

Today, being Saturday, Drew and I both went to class together. I don't know what was going on, but it seemed like instructor-wise, the school was a little short-handed. Ma'am is on vacation, I know that. Ryan, aka Mr. A (I use his name interchangeably here), seemed to be on his own for the most part, although Emily was there too to assist. Emily assisting isn't always the best thing. After a while, she tries to supercede whomever is teaching, and she doesn't have the right to do that. She also lacks people skills as well, which causes problems. Anyhow, we started with sparring class, which both Drew and I could participate. Once he and I were sparring partners, and he had some issues where he doesn't like to get into the routine of combinations and stuff and just wants to go at it, but he can be brought into control pretty quickly, I think. He didn't get the rest of his gear because Ryan just seemed very overwhelmed with stuff-- it's just easier to wait until Ma'am gets back next week and get stuff. And Drew was actually okay with that. But otherwise, other than some wiggles, Drew did fine during sparring class. Next was forms class. Drew played with his Lightening McQueen car for this and the next few classes until his own class started up.

Forms was a little boring. I didn't learn the next section as I had with Alex the other night. The problem was also being in the same class where I'm the only adult there. I mean, I need the help and have found that some of the drill are really good for me-- or anyone, but there wasn't anyone over the age of 10 other than me in the class. It's a little hard, because I can approach things and work on things better and differently than the kids.

Weapons class gave me a chance to work on the new bo staff (don't know the Korean name for it yet). Drew thought me having one was cool. It's not that drastically different from the Bahng- mah-ee (aka the stick) that I've gotten relatively proficient in, so it's coming pretty quickly to me. The strike line drills came pretty easily to me, and one I saw the form again since Thursday when Victoria showed me, it came more easily to me. However, I was back on kiddle patrol as I learned, and assigned to monitor Josh, who is about Drew's age but about 2 belts ahead of him, but even more restless. So, I decided to get him to cooperate by having him teach me the form. This was for a few reasons-- 1) get his confidence up in showing that he knew the information and could teach a grown up, 2) to keep him engaged at the task at hand, and 3) I actually did need the help. When it got too boring for him (and he'd admit that he wa bored), I'd say, "Okay, let's do it together again, but when I say go, we have to do it correctly and we can't cheat, but let's see who can do it the fastest." See? I made it a game, and once he knew it was a race and he was confident in what he was doing, he engaged in the practice and I was able to keep him on task.

Next we had to work on board breaking. Class comprised of a bunch of kid color belts, the twin sisters (one of which was so cute that when we partnered up she grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go like we were little girl best friends instead of a teenager and a woman old enough to be her mother), and a bunch of 2nd degree 50-something who were working on stuff. I worked with the twins for a while. Emily was conducting class with Mrs. Dr. Phillips, but the two of them didn't seem to have the same grab as Mr. A or Ma'am or some of the other teachers. The twins and I all had problems with actual board breaking. I was trying to help Kirsten with her palm break, and ushered Mr. Z (one of the 50-something 2nd degrees) to help me hold her board. He was making corrections of which some were correct, and some were not. After Kirsten would try, I would say, "good try" with a comment to fix afterwards about to come from my lips, and Mr. Z would say, "NO, it's not good-- don't listen to her (meaning me)". Well, I can somewhat respect what he was saying in his corrections, and he is the higher belt. HOWEVER, poor Kirsten kept looking at me as if to say, "What in the hell is he talking about? Help!" I did quiet down after a while, And just let Mr. Z continue what he was doing (now remember, he was not the instructor of the class) and the 50-somethings were advising the poor kid to death. I felt bad for her. They did the same thing to her sister. Part of the problem was that he was explaining things to them that were a) wrong (you don't hit downwards, you hit straight, which was his first mistake in how he was telling things) and b) he doesn't know these girls and how to coach them personally. I've been a student with them for a long time know, and I understand how each girl ticks, how she thinks. I understand what motivates them, and if anything, Mr. Z was not motivating either of them, but rather intimidating them instead. Not good. He wasn't saying anything positive about what they were doing right, only focusing on what was wrong. You have to be balanced as you teach this stuff, especially to two very timid teenage girls who don't have a lot of confidence in themselves and their abilities. I think that's why they both love me so much. I can be playful with them, but we know how to work well together and get the job done, and me being the lower rank, I show them how to have confidence even if you have no idea of what you are doing but perservering. In many ways, they are me at the same age, so perhaps that's why they see me as a role model to them, and while I used to think they were annoying, they really have endeared themselves to me, and I look forward to seeing them. But Mr. Z just pissed me off. I was having a hard time with my own break, and again, since I didn't have the proper instructors, I just gave up after a while, and figured that I'd have proper help at another time. Drew was out of his class by that time, since he didn't have his weapons or board yet, so I figured that was enough.

When I got home, I talked to my husband about what I wrote above. And I think I've come to a conclusion about myself, and why in the end, I'll probably end up being a pretty decent instructor eventually. It's simply because I'm a people person, in the sincerest sense. Or as my husband put it, at least with kids and teenagers, but I think it's with some adults too. I don't forget where I've come from in my slow ascent to my black belt, and even though I'm only a blue belt. It was only a year ago-- almost exactly-- that I started this quest. I don't think that I would've guessed that I would have made it this far, although I had made the commitment to at least get my 1st degree belt. I don't think I would've thought that I'd be competing (much less ranked in the state), or that I'd be in the leadership program to earn my instructor certification, or that I'd even be working for the ATA school. But here I am-- and finding that I have skills that some other people don't have. They might have all the moves and knowledge in how to do the forms, weapons, etc. But one of the most important elements is being able to relate to other people. You can be a world champion(as some people at my school actually are), and if you don't talk to respectfully, or try to endear yourself even a little bit to them, they aren't going to like you, and resent how you do thing. Ma'am is tough, but she also talks to you as a person, and knows how to inject humor into class while making her point. Same with Mr. A and most of the student instructors. Even Mr. Lee, whom Drew found great, is VERY strict, and yet he treats the kids like people and doesn't talk down to them, and is motivating. This is a skill I feel I have that as well, and I think that ultimately, that is what will help me get ahead, not actually earning a black belt. It's the combination of technical/physical skills AND people skills that truly makes you a true black belt.

1 comment:

John Vesia said...

Balance is important when teaching; if you show faults, also point out the good. Good instuctors should never distance themselves from their students. They should be firm, but approachable.