Ligo Dojo Blog — 03 April 2013

ImageWe had a good beginner’s level adult class tonight in Chapel Hill with 14 students, only 5 colored belts, and 2 of those, visiting children. (The photo is not from tonight.) Since we had so many white belts, we focused on basic technique and practiced taikyoku kata 1,2 and sanchin, as wells as some kumite, and kihon. I made a couple points it would behoove all my students to keep in mind.

1. Learn a new kata in one class: That’s your responsibility. It used to be, in the old days at Ligo Dojo, students would leave a class not knowing a kata that was taught, and come back in the next night, still not knowing it, and so on, until, believe it or not, it became habit for students of that era to learn passively, instead of actively, as all my students are now learning. We’ve come a long way since then and raised the bar.

How can you learn a kata in one class, you ask? Here’s how. If you’ve been shown a kata, you’re responsible for it before your next class (the motions and sequence of course, not mastery). Training and study do not begin until after you’ve crossed that first-exposure hurdle of memorization. So 1. after class practice the motions once on your own to test what you know. If you don’t know the sequence, ask one of your sempais. 2. consider the motions at least once or twice at home before your next dojo class, and 3. come in 10 minutes early to your next class, and perform the motions from memory. Once again if you don’t know some part of the sequence, ask one of your sempais. This is called taking responsibility for learning in one class what you’ve been shown, even if it’s a complex series of motions. Remember that you should assume that there’s always a more challenged student than you, so why should you be the one that embarrasses yourself not focusing? Remember that this applies to all students, even beginners.

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2. We gain strength (spiritual, mental) in the dojo, by facing hardship and coming out on top. “No pain, no gain” surely applies. Of course it’s not necessary to go too far and suffer too much, but if we don’t face adversity and hardship and learn composure and performance in the face of that hardship, we don’t grow stronger on the inside. So, accordingly, we don’t show weakness in the dojo. We don’t show disappointment, we don’t show low morale. If you feel great for training you say “Osu!”, and if you feel rather poorly, you still say “Osu!” No difference in your expression. At least we shouldn’t let our sempais, koohais and classmates know that we feel poorly. That’s part of the training. Learn composure in the face of hardship. Of course if you need to communicate something to your sempai, do so with composure. “Osu, Sempai, I think my rib is broken,” for example. I love that! The student is even seriously injured, and maintains composure. Sometimes, the beginning student, however, mopes, because he/she doesn’t feel well. Ask yourself what the sempai who’s broken his/her rib before thinks of you? So, please take this advice to heart. If you need to communicate something to your teacher, please do so with composure, but don’t lose your composure in the dojo in front of your koohais or your sempais. Sure, you will face hardship sometimes! Sure you will face disappointment! But learn composure in the face of these, and you’re developing inner strength, not just physical strength.  

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(4) Readers Comments

  1. Osu! Very compelling class for me last night. Lots of brain hurdles to overcome before the next class with learning new kata, but I will overcome. Thanks for the affirmation.

    • Osu! Affirmation? Teri, you and your son are both doing such a great job. You’ve come so far. A pleasure to have you in class!

  2. OSU! The process of facing a challenge like learning a new kata is what makes getting over the brain hurdles easier! Sensei gave some good how to “hints”….think about it some at home (i think about kata motions as i’m going to sleep!); come in to class early and work on it alone, or with others in that class…if you are still stuck or have some questions after that then please ask a sempai! I find that i put the biggest hurdle in front of myself by saying…I can’t do that…instead of just taking a leap of faith, do things the way Sensei or a sempai taught as the way to learn and just letting that process work…the end result is that i am far more capable than i ever give myself credit for! The opposite is to not use the tools given in class (in this case it is how to learn a kata in one class; another time it may be other tools) and show up at the next class and not know the kata…you’ll be tempted to say…see, i knew i couldn’t learn something like that so quick…but the truth is you didn’t use the tools that were handed to you! We learn in the Instructor seminar in Japan that a teacher needs to know 10 things to teach their student 1. Think about that in terms of the what and the how of Sensei’s classes!


  3. Osu Sensei! The new portal looks great! Osu!

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