With Festival approaching I thought I’d write a quick note about remembering to be a student. Being a student isn’t just a relationship, it is a mindset.
Some years ago two students came into the dojo within a few weeks of each another, and both had solid backgrounds in previous martial arts. Since they started in To-Shin Do so close to one another it stuck in my mind what different approaches they took to the training.
The first student always took their time, checking in with me often, and seemed determined to practice everything ‘the To-Shin Do way’ Even when what they did was effective, and perhaps even a valid To-Shin Do skill (just not one we were currently working on) this student always would get a little frustrated if they weren’t doing the exact skill I showed.
The second student spent more time teaching his training partners (incorrectly, I might add) and rushing through every technique. This person showed frustration too, but at me when I asked them to slow the movement down. At the end of class they complained that everything was ‘so basic’. I politely commented on their current skills (actually everything they were doing was a poor imitation of skilled martial arts, they obviously didn’t listen to their last instructor any more than they did to me) but explained the importance of building long term skills rather than short term memorized techniques. Ultimately, this second student didn’t stick around for long. They were more interested in polishing up their shiny ego then learning something new.
There may be a lot of us who can relate to having trained with (or taught) someone like this second student. The problem is that we have all likely had at least one or two training sessions where we were that second student without even being aware.
No matter how much teaching or training experience you may have in To-Shin Do or otherwise … remember to be that first student at Festival. Absorb as much as you can. Follow what the instructors are saying. Ask questions, of course, but stay open to everything. Later, at home, you can decide which concepts are important to you and which you want to set aside for the time being. Spend your training time stretching the boundaries of your skills and knowledge, not the boundaries of your ego!