The back of my head is full of dreams locked away, visions buried in the hope of different times to come. I had the motivation to learn when I was younger, but means and circumstances taught me to compromise. I would have loved to have been the obedient and hungry student of a master instructor, absorbing their complete system…but that’s not the path for a roamer. I always wanted roots, a safe place I could call home forever. It just doesn’t seem to be the way the world rolls for me. I’ve learned to find solace in what’s around me, and not in things that I can’t hold on to. I’ve held on to a lot of bits of martial arts over the years.
Moving from town to town, from school to school and teacher to teacher, I was always looking for the one true art. Taught, of course, by the one true teacher. I kept my eyes open, I was patient, and I trained hard. I always kept in mind the saying that “when the pupil is ready, the master will appear.” At a certain point, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. What I was looking for wasn’t going to be found. I decided then that if I couldn’t find the master I was looking for, then it was my job to become that master. That was the first big change in my martial arts training, dropping all my goals and my comforts and reaching for something new and impossible.
It’s been … more years than I care to think about since I started on that path. If anything, that path has brought me less comfort and more change than I could ever imagine. Confidence is a thing I only distantly remember. Every class is a challenge I have to overcome, a new opponent to test myself against. A few years ago I gave up on the thought of ever being the teacher of the perfect system. I made another big change. If I couldn’t create and teach the system that lived in my head, I could create the students who would have everything they needed to make that system. I can’t bootstrap myself up, but I can boost up others, and maybe they will be able to see a farther horizon than me.
Valkyrie has been going past it’s six month mark now, and it’s been amazing. The students with an athletic background have all new levels of power and speed, and the non-athletes…can’t be categorized that way anymore. Body mechanics aren’t perfect, but everyone has big improvements. More importantly, everyone is getting a solid grip on how their body works, and what sort of feedback they can be listening for from it. Self-correction should start to be more apparent, and I’ll only be needed for the finicky bits.
Easily the best group of students I’ve ever trained. They brought a lot to the table, and the system has matured because of it. I think we are about to hit our first real test…new students. Some part of me wants to just keep working with the existing students, pushing them as far as we can, but…new challenges are needed. No rest for the wicked. Dealing with new students is going to be challenging.
As one of the students pointed out, we are likely to intimidate new students. The workouts are enjoyable, and we approach them with a lot of enthusiasm. From the outside, though…they probably do look a bit scary. And honestly, the students are sort of sharks. The way they move in class is probably not going to motivate less athletic new students. It’s hard to see how much change they have made in a short time, hard for new people to realize that they can move the same way in the same amount of time…or less.
If I could make a pill, and tell people that it was really expensive, but you only had to take a few of them…this pill had some nasty side effect, too. You could expect some muscle pain, bouts of sweating, minor flu-like sympoms, periods of exhaustion, all serious enough that you could expect to lose a few hours a week to dealing with it…ugly stuff, but with a payoff. If you took this pill for six weeks, at the end of that six weeks you wouldn’t be slimmer or more muscular, but you would have magically transformed from a couch potatoe to having a basic athletic performance ability. Six weeks of unpleasant side-effects, and you would suddenly have the ability to take a parkour class, or skateboard, or rock climb, or dance, or play on swings, without feeling at a complete loss. It wouldn’t give you any skills, but you could magically transform into being one of those active people…transform just enough that you could realistically start to make all the changes you want to make to your life.
I bet I could sell that pill for the same cost as two tubs of protein powder. I bet people would take it, and put up with the side effects…why not? It’s a better result that any diet pill, or supplement. Sure, it’s got nasty side effects, but for the chance to change your whole life? I bet a lot more people would be willing to do that, than sign up for the six weeks of classes that is what I really mean by “pill.”
People are more willing to believe in a magic pill than they are willing to believe their own efforts can make a change. I suppose we need to market our classes a little differently, and play up the magic pill. But we will still need to help new people understand that what they see in the current students is something they can attain, and that those students suffered the way the new people are when they started.
I feel like we are about to start the next natural iteration of our school. Things move in waves, and the next one is building. All we can really do is keep open minds, and try not to get in anyone’s way as they stumble upon us, and start to explore what we are offering. I’m looking forward to seeing how it changes us.