When my older girls were in their mid teens I taught them to knit. If you have learned this skill you should remember how frustrating, like most things, it is at the beginning. I would have them knit a line or two, just enough to visibly see their screw ups and sure enough the irritation with their work would set in. They would start to unravel literally and emotionally; I wouldn’t let them. We would work through the tears and I would make them stick with it till after several days they had a very ugly scarf. They would stare at it in disgust knowing they were never going to wear it, but that wasn’t the reason. It was then I would point out their incredibly obvious improvement. At the beginning of the scarf there were holes, missed loops, sometimes added loops where the scarf went bigger then smaller back on to their original casting of fifteen, but at the end they had got into a rhythm; not as many holes, less tangles, a much smoother finish. They had progressed, but they would not have seen it if they hadn’t given respect to the craft.
Funny how I can teach this very important lesson to my children but even as an almost 40 year old adult I still struggle with it myself. So many people want the ability to walk into something and be able to catch on within a few tries not fully grasping anything worth knowing is earned, worked on, and honed.
For the last year and a half my family has traveled and trained in several different places in the US under a plethora of incredibly knowledgeable and skilled instructors. I have been in classes on peer levels with some and then learning from them in a teacher student standpoint later. They have all varied in their approach and had different goals in the people they were trying to teach; as they should because how boring would that be if everyone had the same objective? We have dabbled (in reality, goofed off) in anything from judo to BJJ, Muay Thai to dirty boxing, synchronized swimming, grappling and striking, fighting with pistols to fighting with knives, ballroom dancing, etc and there is one takeaway from all of this. Check your ego at the door.
Get used to the fact that you are going to suck. That is why you are there. You don’t go pay good money to learn from someone that can’t teach you anything. That would be stupid, I would rather suck than be dumb, but hey, that’s just me.
This first week in Charlotte with Fit To Fight has been inspiring (side note, while writing this I asked my 12 year old what’s another word for awesome and she said tubular. I went with inspiring). I got beat down for three days in their Instructors Course and then again in the Multiple Attackers Seminar (that was the motivational video posted with the classical music…. THAT was inspiring in a totally different way). I found myself Monday getting the kids settled into what is going to be our next four weeks here and decided I would attend their Foundations class with them. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect, subconsciously I was likely thinking my body just needed a damn break, but either way I thought I would go in and just keep an eye on my kids. Trust me Charlotte, I am protecting you….. in either case I had no expectations other than hell you can’t take too many classes on building your foundations and I wasn’t wrong.
It seems there are two schools of thought in training. One is throw them in the deep end and see what happens and the other is build tiny skill on tiny skill. I honestly cannot answer which one is better because even as a parent I have used both with success, however if you have learned from the first school be okay with taking movement back. There is so much to be gleaned just by stepping into the simple, from footwork (likely because I whined all over social media how much I hated shadow boxing, FYI even if I do, I will never admit if I see the light….)to arm extension. .
It’s the small things that another trainer may be able to see and tweak. I understand it is sometimes demoralizing and frustrating to think you got something in the bag then to be called to a stop and told you are doing it wrong. Sometimes it may be that they just caught you at a weak time, tired form, not perfect because you aren’t all in it. But if we are honest with ourselves most of the time that is not the case. It’s even worse when there is a visual, you think you know what you are doing and then you see it on a video and you are like, damn where did those sloth like moves come from? I recently had an instructor say, “if you think I am not talking to you, I am probably talking to you, so pay attention.” That sucks. It sucks to suck so suck it up. I have been in classes learning the same things with peers from all walks of bad assery, I have seen some people well known in their art get their ass handed to them; I also watched them get up and adjust, fix it, become better. No one is above the basics.
I recently was reading a comment from a former Navy Seal speaking of a time he had the expectations of having the upper hand in a drill. “He was a BJJ purple belt and I was a black belt, (not Shivworks) car fighting. He proceeded to whoop my ass twice!! Crushing my head into the B pillar of the car both times to where I thought my head would explode……It changes you and humbles you.” Now this wasn’t a foundations situation, but it was something that he realized he was lacking in certain area by misjudging his opponent. He chose to recognize and become better not be frustrated and just chalk it up to a bad day. The key here is to see it. Sometimes it may not even be useful to you, that’s okay but at least give the craft respect enough to give whatever it is you are learning a fair chance. It may not be what you are used to, but it may be better. Or it may just not work for you and that is okay as long as you truly gave in a honest shot. I mean hell all of Martial Arts is basically a Heinz 57 of what works culturally for that time and purpose. I have several times had something taught to me that was broken down, I learned it, I also discerned that it would not work or be useful to me, but I made sure I understood it before disqualifying it.
Self defense in a training setting is not a competition between you and someone else, it is a battle between you and yourself. When faced with a person who has chosen violence in the streets or bar or your own home, that is when it becomes a fight. The mental aspect of it while in a safe setting is the battle in your head, what you choose to focus on when you drive home, or in the shower. Reflect and be okay with sucking, thats growth. You may have moved on to knitting a sweater or a even a prom dress, but it is definitely okay to go back and do another scarf. Hell this time you may be able to wear it.
#selfdefense #training #itsokaytosuck#buildstrongfoundations #deeproots#neverstoplearning#youmaynotbedoingitright#checkyouregoatthedoor #sunsoutgunsout#womensselfdefense #backtobasics
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Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal