Cautionary Tales from the Past For the New Year

A long time and many dojo ago, we had two students who were struggling with their training.

One would question everything. They could not cope with the fact that one instructor would teach a particular technique one way, but another instructor would do it quite differently, or sometimes the same instructor taught the same technique differently between classes.

Nothing about this situation is unusual, nor was the student’s inability to understand why. (See also the post on kata). The problem was the student would constantly question their teacher in class. Not only did this prevent them from learning, it did the same for the other students.

Student number two’s struggle was their life outside the dojo. It was extremely stressful and caused them a lot of mental and emotional anguish. Rather than leave all that at the door, as they were often advised, along with exercises to help them do this, they would bring these worries with them on to the mat. Naturally, their training suffered and they too learnt very little and what they did learn tended to be short term.

One night, after class, we were having some drinks at the pub, (things were much more civilised back then and post training beers were an integral part of senior classes), student number one had a revelation. He realised that really, all he had to do, was whatever the current instructor for the class told him to do and not worry about anything else.

Yes, we said.

For the instructors, this was less of a revelation and more of an obvious statement of fact.

For the student, however, everything changed from that moment. Their training progressed at an accelerated rate and he quickly became the most highly ranked student in the School.

Sadly, student number two never had such a moment. They continued to train within the confines of their mundane life instead of fully in the dojo. Their progress remained slowed to a rate well below the norm.


Kai Cho

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