Tag Archives: Become Who You Are

Karate And Me – Part 8 – Becoming The Instructor

KARATE AND ME

PART 8 – BECOMING THE INSTRUCTOR

As 1990 rolled around myself and Darren weren’t left completely on our own in running a karate club, I had just turn 16 and Darren 18, thankfully we had a bit of help from another instructor of a club local to us. Jeff ran the club at Bingham at that time, he would come and train with Alan and when I was able I would go over to his club at Bingham on a Friday evening to train. Alan had asked Jeff to be our advisor and just to help us through, so Jeff would train under us on a Tuesday evening and then teach for us on a Thursday evening, which gave Darren and myself chance to train, I would continue to train at his club on Fridays as and when possible.

I think there are four main types of good karate instructor, yet there are many bad ones.

There is the instructor who has great technique, but lacks the knowledge or personality to convey his message across, he can’t really explain it, you just watch and try to replicate, maybe great for bringing through lower grades, but not always good to give higher grades the knowledge they needed, at this point in my life I think this was about where I was, maybe lacking a little bit in technique though.

Then there is the instructor who is maybe struggling with injuries or older in their years, they lack the technical ability to show the technique the way they want, but can explain the technique is such simple terms that a good student can still learn from. Jeff was like this, he was in his 60’s, both his hips were gone and would in the coming years be replaced, but his knowledge was great, he could spot minor flaws in technique and correct them, I learnt a lot from Jeff, he was a quiet man, but you simply respected him, I owe a lot to Jeff in those early years, I think he taught me how to be an instructor.

There is also the all rounder, this is where Alan fell, he had good technique, very good technique, he had great knowledge which he could convey easily, he could also get that last inch of effort out of you when you really thought you had none left, he was a great instructor, not the greatest technique or knowledge, but still had covered all the bases and could inspire that last drop of energy.

Then there is the instructor who has everything, amazing technique, unequalled knowledge and can get his point across easily and also has that personality that inspires, these guys are few and far between, if you find one, train under them as much as you can and learn everything you can, you’ll love every minute of it.

At that point in my life, I guess I had good technique, I had good knowledge, I just had to get over my shy personality and find a way to put what I knew in to words others could understand without me freezing or looking unsure of myself.

One thing I decided I had to do was get my technique to level I wanted others to do it. I believed that in order for me show the technique and explain it the way I wanted them to do it, then I had to be doing it that way too. I couldn’t correct them on something that they had copied me doing, if I wanted them doing the technique the right way, as far as I was concerned I had to be showing them the right way too. Explaining wasn’t enough, it was all or nothing.

So in a way I became my own teacher, I had to analyse everything I was doing and make sure if I was explaining what I wanted, I was doing it also. It brought my technique on leaps and bounds, I learnt to trust my body to perform the movement the way I wanted it to, if it was wrong it would feel wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I still needed someone like Jeff to run an eye over me from time to time, along with other visiting instructors, I had to keep improving and keep analysing, it was a never ending circle and really, it always should be, we shouldn’t get complacent, shouldn’t think we know everything, nobodies perfect, if I became perfect would there be a reason to carry on training?

In time I would ask my students if they thought they were really knew their Kata for their next grading and could do it well. I know this might sound harsh, but follow me on this one, but they would always answer yes to both questions, so I would respond that they were better than me!

This got a look of consternation from them all, confused, perplexed, how could they be better than me, they looked up to me, parents would say their kids wanted to be as good as me and in truth every instructor should aim for their students to be better than they are, that’s the goal.
But I would explain, that I know the directions of the kata, I know the pattern, but I’m still learning it even now, I may win kata competitions, but I’m not the best in the world, I’m not world champion, I still do not know any of the katas I can do properly, so they should always look to improve, I can do them well, but I still need to study them and do them better, there’s always room for improvement, lots of room for improvement.

Sometimes we have to humble and realise we need to improve, maybe we are trying to help others improve and we are further along the journey in what ever part of life, be it karate or just life in general, then we still need to improve.

I would look at students mistakes and then look back at myself, if I was doing that the. I needed to correct myself and improve, with kids especially it’s a case of monkey see monkey do, even adults would do that to a certain extent, so as an instructor I strove to learn from my students too, you’re never to good to improve or be taught a lesson by your students either.

I found the adults interesting, when older adults came along as new beginners they struggled, we would get very intelligent guys and women come along, teachers, businessmen, all sorts, but they struggled and got so frustrated. I came to the conclusion that they had forgotten how to learn!

I suppose as a kid or young adult, you spend all your time in a learning environment, learning all the time and especially as kids with sports and maybe even young adults in new manual jobs where you are actually training your body as well as your mind, you will find it easier to learn karate. If you haven’t been in a learning environment or done any training where body coordination comes into play you will struggle. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t stop anybody training, with the right mentality that can and will be over come, but the frustration of some of these guys was plain to see.

We had adults who just could grasp which was their left or right leg, they knew left and right, but getting the to move the right one, as well as say punch or block at the same time was hard work. They just hadn’t been in that kind of learning environment for such a long time and they began to show their frustration, they wanted to train hard and strong, they believed that’s what an adult like them should be doing, but in reality it was the opposite, I tried to get them to slow down, pay attention to their body, to feel their way through and concentrate on the basics, the speed and strength could come later, but no they were like bulls in a china shop, they had to go hard and strong.

Eventually I would get through to some, others we lost in frustration, some just wanted to fight and didn’t understand you have to do the basics first, over and over again, and keep doing it until they were of a reasonable quality and control to allow them to fight. I think people expect to come in and fight straight away, kids want to be ninja turtles or power rangers straight away, like on the TV and films, adults wanted to be like the higher grades straight away, they don’t understand the process to get to the level where they are, it’s a journey, not a quick fix, just like life.

Sometimes we all have to slow down and go back to the basics. Sometimes we all have to look at our life technique and reevaluate it, never be afraid to learn from someone at a different stage of the journey, whether that be ahead or behind us, there are lessons to be learnt from everyone.

BECOME WHO YOU ARE by MAINSTAY
So it seems that I’m wrong ’cause you said that
I would never want for anything again
But my eyes are set low and I’m holding
To the things I know I can’t keep

I keep on chasing the wrong things and coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m supposed to be
I keep on learning the hard way from every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are

So it seems that I’m wrong ’cause I keep on
Searching for the answers that I don’t need
I know I don’t need

I keep on chasing the wrong things and coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m supposed to be
I keep on learning the hard way from every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are

Becoming who you are
You’re just becoming, just becoming
You’re just becoming, just becoming

I keep on chasing the wrong things and coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m supposed to be
I keep on learning the hard way from every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are

I’m finding each time that you fall
I’m finding each time that you fall
We’re finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are

A Journey In Four Songs

I’ve made no secret of how much music has been a part of my life and in particular part of my journey, from a trapped alcoholic to where I am now, messages through the music I listen to have been a vital part of the process.

When I walk I’ve often felt a song has played in answer to a thought or prayer that has been running through my mind at that point.  This morning was a little different, at first I felt one song had begun playing in answer to how I felt at that point, a little on the low side, it was Fall Apart by Josh Wilson, then followed by Becoming Who You Are by Mainstay, these two songs reminded me it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to struggle, God is there for us and as the song says “with every fall you’re just becoming who you are”.  I thought at that point that these two song were the answer to how I was feeling, then a third song played which added to the ongoing response to my feelings, this time Jars of Clay with Weapons, just a reminder that sometimes we don’t need to keep fighting, just let God go before us.  Then finally to complete the story was Our God Reigns by Jesus Culture.

So essentially it was as though I was feeling like I was falling apart, yet being told that’s okay, you can get through this and come out stronger, let God go before you and trust in him, all through four songs.

By the time I arrived at Church, I was once again feeling a completely different person and ready for a fantastic morning at Church once again.

FALL APART by JOSH WILSON
‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel you now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
But somehow still have all I need?
God I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when I fall apart

BECOME WHO YOU ARE by MAINSTAY
I keep on chasing the wrong things and coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m supposed to be
I keep on learning the hard way from every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall, you’re just becoming who you are

WEAPONS by JARS OF CLAY
Lay your weapons down
Lay your weapons down
There are no enemies in front of you

Hallelujah, we can finally see
How the bitterness was bruising on our skin
We didn’t notice that grace had run so thin
Till we’re falling apart and the cracks in our hearts let the truth sink in

OUR GOD REIGNS by JESUS CULTURE & MARTIN SMITH
Our God reigns
Our God reigns
Forever Your kingdom reigns
He reigns, He reigns
He reigns, He reigns
He reigns, He reigns

Back In Training

It’s been a long and tiring day, ironically I’ve spent all day in Wellingborough, which is the site of our other Church Campus, but unfortunately I never made it to Church at all today, due to karate commitments.

For the first time in a year I attended one of our association’s National courses, I was due to attend one last December, but at the last moment I chickened out, at the time I was just getting used to my Anti-Depressant medication, I didn’t feel up to it back then, so when this course came up, I decided it was time to get back to training.

So three hours of training, after not doing any training at all since last November and only a few teaching sessions in the months in between.  In all honesty I felt okay during the first two hours of training, apart from cracking my thumb, again, and the hips being a little stiff, I went okay.

Unfortunately, when you partner off with someone who is a lot less experienced than you are, there is always a danger of an injury, indeed he panicked a little at the speed of my punches and instead of managing a block, he managed to elbow my thumb, nice!

The last hour was kata training, well here is my speciality, plus it tends to be a lot lighter and more technical, so a good way to ease down, WRONG!

The problem is, it is my speciality and I am current National Champion, that means there is no hiding place and indeed there wasn’t.  The instructor, my former squad coach, pulled my out to demonstrate on a number of occasions, where I was happy to take it easy at the back, I was placed in front of all the other students to demonstrate the movements, well whilst you are in that position there is only one way to do it and that’s as hard, as fast and as technically correct as you can.  After the first time my legs were like jelly, but there was still no hiding, I was called out again and again.

Despite the aches, that in itself is a major compliment, Sensei Adel has that much faith in my ability to use me as an example, he has always supported me and even through the last few years, he has been very encouraging.  We chatted after training and I explained what’s been happening over the last few months, he let me know he is always there to talk to if I need to.

I spoke with a number of people who are aware of my struggles over the last few years and discussed the last few months, it’s seems though that I’m not the only one, there were a couple of other people, who I would never have suspected, that admitted to me that they had recently started a course of anti-depressants too, I guess only by being strong enough to admit it do you realise you aren’t the only one who is struggling through life.

It’s been a good day, I hate to miss Church, but it is only a few times a year and it has renewed my enthusiasm for karate again, over the last few months that has been waning a little with everything that has been going on, but remembering I still have some great friends in karate that are supporting me all the way is very comforting.

BECOME WHO YOU ARE by MAINSTAY
So it seems that I’m alone ‘cuz you said that
I would never want for anything again
But my eyes are set low and I’m holding
To the things that I know I can’t keep

I keep on chasing the wrong things
And coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m s’pposed to be
I keep on running the hard way
From every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are

So it seems that I’m alone ‘cuz I keep on
Searching for the answers that I don’t need
I know I don’t need

I keep on chasing the wrong things
And coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m s’pposed to be
I keep on running the hard way
From every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are

Who you are
We’re just becoming, just becoming

I keep on chasing the wrong things
And coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m supposed to be
I keep on running the hard way
From every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are

(I’m finding each time that you fall)
Who you are
(I’m finding each time that you fall)
You’re just becoming who you are

If I Don’t Like The Taste

It was Thursday 29th March 2012, eleven days earlier I had put the blade down and had taken my last taste of wine at home, and just ten days previous I’d met with my Pastor to work out a path for the rest of my life.

The night of 19th March 2012, Gareth had passed me the Wind Up Torch, it was now up to me take that torch, to keep it charged, to light up the steps to a better life with God, but this night 29th March 2012 things would take a massive leap in the right direction, it was mind over matter and the battle to see who would win was just about to begin.

I finished my karate class at 10.00pm as usual, got changed and started to walk over to the pub next door with one my students, but this night I had a plan, I had a plan for the future.  As I walked over I made my mind up, this was it, I wasn’t going to hide this thought, I had to say it, I had to tell someone in order to believe in it.

So I told my student that I was going to have a pint of cider, but as I hadn’t really liked the taste of it in the last ten days, that if I did not like the taste of that first pint, then that would be it, that would be the end, I would never drink again.  Did I believe in this thought, did I believe I had the will power to go through with it, I really don’t think I did, but once you put it out there, made a public statement, even to just one person, there is more of an onus to act on those words.

Well the long and the short of it is, I went to the bar ordered a pint and went to sit down, with apprehension I picked up the glass, it was strange, but I felt a will in myself to deliberately not like it, even if I did my mind was telling me I just did not want to enjoy that drink.  Well the taste did absolutely nothing for me, there was no relief at that first drink, like there normally would be when I’ve waited over 20 hours since my last drink, I just didn’t like it, I didn’t want it anymore.  So I finished the drink and later went back to the bar.  This time I ordered a different drink, the same drink I’ve been drinking ever since, lime cordial and soda, it tasted great, I didn’t need the alcohol, I felt good about myself for once.

So 29th March 2012, the date for my sobriety, the date I gave up my demon, the date that chain fell, I wasn’t totally free just yet, there was and is still a long way to go.  There would still be trials to face, my drinking had destroyed my health, my relationship, my finances, my self esteem, pretty much everything I had, I had fallen so far into drinking to escape my worries, that I lost myself, I lost who I was, in turn I came close to losing all I had, but this day would be a new start, a day to start fighting hard, a day to start recovering, a day to start rebuilding, towards a journey to being REBORN.

I keep on chasing the wrong things
And coming up empty
This isn’t who I’m s’pposed to be
I keep on running the hard way
From every mistake
And I’m finding each time that you fall
You’re just becoming who you are
(Becoming Who You Are by Mainstay)

So I am now truly:

FIGHTING HARD, RECOVERING, REBUILDING, REBORN