I had friends come down from Quebec Canada for some private training. They are very devoted practitioners, who every few months, drive over seven hours to train for almost eight hours then turn around and drive back. Each time they come we explore what they know to find what they don’t know. These are never ‘pat on the back’ sessions where they leave feeling good about what they know. The sessions are not easy and I have great respect for them going through these with me.
Each time we train together they are honest with themselves about what they think they know being just that, what they currently think. I am honest with them and let them know that what I am showing them is my understanding at this time and will change with time. We work through the mind’s natural desire to say ‘this is what reality is’, to remove another layer of delusion and try to see more clearly the taijutsu of our art.
So many people train for five to ten years, what seems to me now a relatively short time, and believe they have it. They start teaching what they think they know as the way it is. At that point they stop questioning what they know and stop learning. The desire to be ‘right’, to be perceived as an expert, over rides the desire to learn. They stop looking for the next layer.
I have been teaching in either a training group or dojo for twenty-five years now and to be very blunt, you can’t be a good teacher if you’re not a good student. You have to be willing to question what you think you know and continue to explore your understanding. The day before my friends came down to train with me I was in Boston with my teacher looking at ways of moving I had never seen before. The beauty of art is that it never ends. There is always another layer.
To share in that beauty you need to let go of your ego and look for the next layer. Train to know that what you know today needs to change tomorrow.