Lessons About Lessons

I’m a little sore this morning. Moving seems to take a little more effort than expected. My joints feel tender on the inside. We had a great class last night, but I’m really paying the price for it now. Not that I mind, really. A certain amount of soreness can be pleasant…you can survey it the way a farmer would a freshly sown field. It’s hard work, good work, done in hope of an earned reward. The pain is sort of a payment, the martial artist’s form of rich, black fields.

It was an ideal class, the very epitome of what I dream of a western martial arts class being. We started out with our usual workout, scaled up a little for our growing abilities. We are all getting better at the little things, and a lot stronger. Paradoxically, it makes the workout harder. Being more able, we can now start to actually perform some of the exercises instead of just imitate the form of them…which makes what was an easy exercise before somewhat of a grinder now.

I learned a good lesson last night about teaching, or at least about trusting my students. I have a skill I want them to develop, and we’ve been working aspects of it during our fencing drills for a few weeks now. I wanted them to start working on the next step last night, and had puzzled out a drill for them to work on. It seemed simple to me, but completely fell apart once we started to work it. I corrected too early, and got the question train started and it all fell apart. So I decided to chuck the drill and work on it for next week. The students appeared a little frustrated at the direction things had gone, so I had them break up for sparring. I figured they could use the break, and just have some fun to finish the night off.

So they start sparring…and just about everyone was trying to incorporate the proposed drill into their bouting. And damned if it isn’t working! Once they started working the concept out in fighting, they not only grasped what I was getting at, they started to report back about the possibilities inherent in the idea. All of which echoed what I had mind for the next few classes. So, lesson learned: My students are very smart. I don’t need to handhold them. I can explain the concept and let them work out things for themselves. And once they have that worked out, we can all work together on drills to polish the skill.

Probably the best part of class was at the end, though. Knife fighting broke out (I did teach some of Marozzo’s knife vs knife material earlier,) and was interrupted by the setup of the wrestling mats. Fencing, knife work, and submission wrestling, all in one night…after boxing drills and a killer workout.

Feels like heaven to me…

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