Monday, November 26, 2012

You Didn't Just Say That!

From childhood through adolescence we learn a wide variety of social behaviors. Things like, wait your turn to speak, don’t burp in front of your mother, and there is a time and place for locker room language; specifically, in the locker room and generally nowhere else.

The martial arts come with another set of quasi-cultural norms that define certain appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. Most of them boil down to this; you are being taught as your teacher was taught, and her teacher before that. This goes back many generations; the system works, and has worked for a long, long time.

The thing to remember is that a martial arts class is not a debate; you’re not there to discuss the subtle elements of neuromuscular repetition and it’s impact on reaction time, sequence chunking, flexibility, stamina, and emotional control.

In short, listen, follow instructions, and work hard. Benefits will occur over time.

Here is a list of ten things you should not say to your martial arts instructor. First, these words have no effect, they literally will be ignored... best case. Secondly, they demonstrate a lack of respect for a training approach that has worked for hundreds of years. Humans have not changed, we still learn the same way.

What not to say (and the snarky replies that run through my head):

  • You didn’t teach me that - You were taught, you didn’t practice.
  • Master So-in-so says you’re wrong - then it is up to Master So-in-so to tell me, not you.
  • I should be allowed to advance more quickly, as I’m better than other students - possibly, but you fail at humility, so I’m holding you back.
  • I do it differently - not and pass my test, you don’t.
  • That’s too hard - Aww, try again.
  • I can’t do that - not with that attitude, that’s for sure.
  • I don’t think that’s right - Really, 'cause I think it's right and my instructor thought so too.
  • I don’t need your help - then why are you here?
  • Class is boring - wherever you go, you take you with you.
  • I can do the forms and techniques that my senior belts do - which explains why the stuff you’re supposed to know is so mediocre.

I encourage questions in class, but not complaints, accusations, or boasting. Martial arts training is different than other forms and method of education.

Listen, follow instructions, and work hard. You’ll do great.

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