People used to think I was rude

Well, actually, people still think I am rude, though the rumours started by members of my family that much of Bernard Black’s personality was based on mine, are demonstrably false.

It is more my behaviour towards new students that tends to dismay the onlookers and possibly even the new students themselves.

A case in point is when new people try to introduce themselves to me and I tell them not to bother as I have no intention of even trying to remember their names until they have trained with us for at least two years. Why would I? If they cannot demonstrate even that minimum level of commitment, then they are essentially just wasting my time. Two years is more than generous. I have spent too many years teaching too many students who think they can master something in just a few months or even weeks to be bothered taking seriously someone who cannot even last a couple of years. I fully accept that all new students have the potential to be long term, but it is up to them to prove that to me through actions, not words; and after two years I will acknowledge those first steps by learning their name.

In the face of such an attitude, why would any new student bother turning up twice?

Because they are at the dojo to learn and what we teach is worth the effort.

I am not running a social club.

I am not their parent, or new best friend.

I am not advocating any of the existing students shun the newcomers. Quite the opposite. It is their role to make them feel welcome. It is the role of seniors and sempai to answer their questions and ensure they understand what is required of them.

It is not my role.

So, am I rude?

Perhaps by other people’s social conventions. But I am also making an efficient use of my time and resources within the boundaries and protocols that govern a traditional martial arts School.

“You’ll laugh,
You’ll cry,
It will change your life”.
~ Bernard Black

Kai Cho

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