Almost everyday for me starts with 40+ minutes on the treadmill. I’m pretty active around the house having the benefit of being fairly healthy. Additionally, I teach karate twice a week, and frequently find myself reviewing all my techniques, forms, and training drills during Sunday morning sessions with a few other dedicated practitioners.
In short, I’m in pretty good shape and the annual medical tests bear this out.
So why is it that I feel like I’ve been chewed up by the propellers of a small cruise ship? This past weekend I participated in a 3+ hour review session with our Grand Master C. S. Kim. I and 70 of my closest friends volunteered to have a class with Master Kim. We didn’t cover any new material, and the class was fairly pedestrian.
And yet; Ow!
So why does one of Master Kim’s classes hurt so good, when the same material covered by Master So-in-so doesn’t?
Martial artists in big schools hear this conversation all the time. “Oh, Master X’s class is a killer, much harder that Master Y.” Really?
I suppose it’s possible that some instructors push harder, and maybe require more repetitions than others. A class where there is more repetition is often considered harder than classes where a wide range of physical tasks are performed.
But the real differentiating factor between those classes where you sweat (and grow) versus those you don’t has more to do with the students (you) than with the instructor. Don’t get me wrong, Master Kim and Master Joe Bruno, and others of their ilk are great teachers, and their knowledge and insight borders on mind reading.
But what makes Master Kim’s or Master Bruno’s classes so much better is the effort put in by the students. Maybe this extra effort is a result of wanting the admiration or positive feedback from one of the worlds truly best martial artists. Maybe the student’s extra effort comes from recursive peer pressure - once one student ‘picks up his game’, other do causing an infinite cycle of game picking uping.
During the two days of preparations for my Masters test, every single one of the 17 master candidates fell to the ground from exhaustion (self included) at least once. No instructor caused that to happen - that was the result of each individual pushing themselves to their limits.
The next time you have a really great workout, or a notably weak one, give credit where credit is due. To be sure, some instructors are better at getting you fully engaged and motivating you to push yourself - but you are responsible for your own efforts.