Monday, August 3, 2015

The Other Side

Once again, it's been a while since I've posted anything.  That's ok, I've been busy with life and with kendo.  A few weeks ago I took over teaching the beginning class.  I've taught and lead classes in the past, but always on a as-needed basis.  I'd fill in when other people were gone, or if I was asked to for that day or week, but never on a regular basis.  Now, though, the beginning class is my responsibility.  I'll be leading them through two month of practice, laying the foundation of basics that they'll build on in later classes.  I feel a sense of achievement in this, as I look back on the years of my own training and see where I was and where I am now.  I also feel a lot of responsibility for the students I have.  It will be entirely up to me what they learn, and what they don't learn.  If there is an issue with the way they strike men, or how they move their feet, it will be squarely on my shoulders.  But I'm definitely up for the new challenges and opportunities that this brings me.

We're halfway through our beginning training schedule right now.  The one thing that I've taken to heart is being a good example to my students.  If I tell them to keep a straight posture as they move, I want to model that for them.  If I tell them to slide them feet and not let their toes pop up, I get out and show them each time I move.  I don't want to just tell them about good basics, I want to show them, and that's been a big focus of mine as I go through each of the classes with them.  I feel that in this way they get not only a good verbal description of what we're doing, but a good visual description, and I try not to break that as we train.  This has also given me a chance to really look at my basics and see where my own faults lie, and also bring that into my own training.  Also, I have an opportunity to really look at what I'm doing and how to convey that to others.  I feel that I can do a fairly decent men strike, given the level of experience I have right now.  But how do I take what I know how to do and instruct others in an effective way?  I've thought a lot about this lately.  We have a good system in place at my dojo, though, and I get lots of help and feedback, so that helps tremendously, and at the end of the day I'm glad for this opportunity to instruct and pass on what I've learned, even though I am very much still a student myself (always will be a student, right?).

Since I started teaching, they've moved me to the teacher's side of the dojo.  This has been quite an adjustment for me, and right now I'm mainly getting used to being there.  Again, I try and model the best kendo I can.  Somedays is easier than others, as I'm sure others that have been there can understand, but I try and have a good, positive spirit throughout practice and do the best that I can, given my condition that day.  I also try and encourage my dojo mates as much as I can and helping bring out the best that they have.  This has always been something I've strived for, but now I feel it even more, being in the position I'm in. 

Our training this summer has been focused on waza, and going over various techniques and attacks.  I've been able to practice a great variety of things, some of which we haven't done in a while, with the purpose of finding a technique, or two, that I really want to focus on and develop and make my own.  I think I've found a few that work well for me and that I can see myself developing to a level to make them a "specialty" of sorts.  That being said, I still have a LOT of practice to do with them.  I've also ran into a few things that I'm just plain bad at, and some things I'm uncomfortable with (probably because I'm bad at them).  It's good to not only know my strengths but also my weaknesses.  Then I'll have a more complete picture of where I'm at and what to continue to strengthen and what I need more help and improvement with. 

One of the things I've been doing lately is trying to slow down a bit during jigeiko.  I was told by one of my seniors that I have great posture and movement when we're doing drills, and even in jigeiko.  When I go against others around my rank or higher, though, I tend to lean my body in and get a little frantic.  If I can slow down a bit, focus on that good posture, and then build my speed back up from there I think that will do wonders for me.  I definitely won't be able to hit everyone all the time, but at least I won't sacrifice good posture for a quick point.  To me, that's more important