The Teacher Becomes the Student

One of the most exciting new developments in my karate training has been the class that I now co-teach. Its a class for women taught by women and its all about self defense and fitness.

It was so intimidating to stand before all of the ladies the first time, offering them instruction and advice about how to handle dangerous situations. I heard the clock ticking on the wall. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. We had an hour class. A whole hour to fill. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

I saw their faces staring at me waiting to hear what I had to say. I felt my voice choke up inside and internally I stuttered, practically unable to speak. But somehow the words flowed out, spilling forward with an ease that seemed effortless. One idea after the next. One instruction after the next until the minutes melted away. The ladies were smiling but serious and did each technique eager to master it and move on to the next.

I was smiling, offering encouragement as my instructors have always given me. Words of praise and subtle corrections all mixed and blended together, designed to move them forward and become stronger and more powerful. Every word, every instruction I gave was important to them…and possibly even more important to me. Whatever I said had to be correct. I had to be sure. I had to KNOW what I was talking about.  I had to be right.

That room full of smiling ladies helped me grow more in that hour than I’d probably grown in karate for a while. The test wasn’t for them to succeed it was for me to realize all of the things I still had to learn. It was for me to go back to the beginning and redo all of the basics that I’d done before. But not just to do them. To understand them. To know why they were important and what they meant to self defense. Anyone can tell you ‘now throw a punch’. You have to understand body dynamics, hip rotation, focus, and how not to be forced to throw a punch to really be able to teach it.

At the end of the class we all celebrated our success in completing it. For them it was a physical accomplishment, sweat proudly dripping from their bodies. For me it was more mental and emotional. I had entered the class as a teacher and left it as a student. I’d learned so much but still had so much yet to learn.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Janet Leone
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 03:23:48

    So proud of you!!!!!!


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