Friday, May 25, 2007

That feeling of being watched

Being a higher belt comes with some responsibility, a bit like Spider-Man, you know, with great power comes great responsibility. :)

Well, not so much responsibility, but that feeling that people can look up to you, that they want to see how you do a certain technique. It happened to me in last night's class. It wasn't the first time it happened, but it had a special feel to it.

We started class with a very solid cardio warmup and followed it with a review of our "fall" technique, you know, how you break a fall. First to the right, then to the left, falling forward, or backward. We then moved on to rolls, forward and backward. The forward roll is a great to "roll with it", as it's name implies, when you are falling forward and you don't want to hurst yourself. I think I have linked to the Aikido Ferret in the past to demonstrate the forward roll, but here it is again.

Up until then, we were still all in a big group, two rows of students. That was a class for intermediate and advanced students, i.e. blue to brown belts with even one black belt. Some of the newly graduated blue belts seemed to be struggling with their rolls, and not only the backward roll which can be tricky, but even with the forward roll. It's only when our instructor asked us to all line up at the back wall that it took an interesting turn. He asked us to do a forward roll ending with a tap to break the fall, meaning he wanted us not to get up after the roll but simply tap and stop right there. The kicker was, he wanted us to do them one by one, starting at one end of the line where mostly blue belts were up to the other end where the brown belts, yours truly included, were. The first few went and had indeed a bit of problem, which I know was just normal. Then my the turn of a brown belt came right before me and he too kind of struggled. Then my turn. I felt like I had 15 sets of eyes watching me. For some stupid reason, I didn't want to disappoint them. That thought didn't last very long in my mind. I told myself I was doing karate for my own self, not for others, and the roll went very well. Still it was very interesting to feel the tension, sort of, that other people were kind of looking up to me to see it done properly. Interesting in the sense that I have done that so many times. Watch how a kata is done by a higher ranked student and you learn. Watch how they do a certain technique and you might learn something. There is just so much to learn by simply watching, and listening...



Benoit said...

This story teaches a great morals and it's really true. However, their is a detail I am not completely agreeing:

Watch how a kata is done by a higher ranked student and you learn.

Are you sure you can only learn by higher ranked? As instructor I see a lot of student (higher than me or not) and I learn a lot by lower rank too. This is an extreme, by a day a I learned something from a kid who's orange belt when I began teaching and I was black belt! You can even learn by yourself. Your limit is your mind.

supergroup7 said...

It's a daunting feeling to be looked at as the example, because you find that your mistakes will transfer as quickly as your successes.

It's great to see that you keep your mental balance as you feel this pressure to perform. I'd like to add that there is no shame in making a mistake, the worst thing would be not correcting it.

[Mat] said...

No offense meant,

I think there's a higher chance of learning while looking at a black belt than a white belt.

that could be argued, by the fact that by looking at white belts, you can correct your technique because it shows you what to avoid.

But, as a white belt, you ought to look up to higher kyus. "Seek to imitate your sensei" kind of thing.

If you're 2nd dan, you ought to look up to 3rd dan's and seek to imitate them no? (all things being otherwise equal)

We all learn from each other. But the point is you do learn more from higher ranked persons. The sentence did not limit anything.

And you're right, by the way.