Thursday, December 08, 2011

Kyo Sa? Kyo Sa.

Well, the dust has finally begun to settle following the amazing-day-horrible-denouement that my E Dan and Kyo Sa testing day was. The passage of a few weeks, a long trip to North Carolina for Thanksgiving (in the car, with both kids and our dog Cinnamon, featuring torrential downpours while navigating our way, white-knuckled and convinced of our imminent collective demise, through the Great Smoky Mountains), and the return of Scarlett's cremains (in a lovely urn and monogrammed velvet bag with a small clay impression of her paw print ... sniff ... ) have helped me get some distance and perspective on the test, and I've begun settling into the beginning of the next stage of my training as best I can.

Now, there hasn't been a lot of "new" training so far, exactly. My instructor scheduled our promotion ceremony for the first Saturday in December (to coincide with the 10 year anniversary of the opening of the dojang) which was only 3 weeks after the test. With Thanksgiving smack dab in the middle, no less. So, precious little time to prepare for the performance aspects of the ceremony (have to create a vignette, write a bio, and also do additional demonstrations). Therefore, all training opportunities prior to last Saturday were dedicated to preparing my vignette. Hoping to learn some new stuff, perhaps my next new hyung (Lo Hai), soon.

Here's my vignette -- not too bad for something I had to throw together so quickly.

Meanwhile, the main thing that I've experienced is the pleasure of settling into and getting used to my new title, Kyo Sa ("certified instructor"). This is actually a much bigger deal to me that the new rank, and it's something I am still trying to get used to. Not that it really changes things that much: I still train whenever I can train, I still teach whenever I can teach. But I feel a lot more responsibility to get things right all the time than I did before, especially when teaching and demonstrating.

Having a title definitely raises expectations of the folks I train and teach, and I'm still trying to make sure I consistently rise to meet those expectations, and worrying that I sometimes fail to. For whatever reason I still sometimes tend to go blank when teaching some techniques -- a student will inquire about a specific one step or wrist grab, and I'll begin to address it and find that ... I just can't ... it's ... wait, wait, don't tell me ....

Most of the time, I get it right within 10-15 seconds. Occasionally, somewhat ... later. Sigh.

Now, to be fair to myself, even if I completely blank on something for a minute or so, once I settle down and clear my mind I can bring it back almost every time and then I'll work with the student to clarify any confusion I may have caused them. But I still tend to beat myself up about it for hours afterward. And frankly, I think I'm being kind of ridiculous about it. I've seen far more experienced instructors than myself, and far more gifted and experienced martial artists, flub technique or instruction on the mat. It happens. We're only human, right? Even me.

This is, again, a lesson I think. I'm not sure whether it's right or wrong to expect consistent accuracy and excellence from myself as a teacher. I think it's right to strive for, but if I get bent out of shape whenever I have a momentary lapse of memory or recall it's not really going to help the situation.

Regardless, these are the sorts of issues that only get fixed with experience. More time teaching. More time training. And since that's pretty much in my plan for the foreseeable future, I guess I should just lighten the hell up, huh? In the meantime, I'll just keep doing the best I can, getting things right as often as possible, fixing things when I get them wrong, and continuing to move forward trying to improve.

And if that's not an example of martial arts as a metaphor for living, what the hell us?

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