When I'm loading the dishwasher at home, there is one way to do it. Bowls go in one section and plates go on the opposite side. On the top rack, all coffee mugs (which we have no shortage of) go on one side and regular drinking glasses are on the opposite. In our dishwasher, everything has a place...that's just the way it goes. Or is it?
Lately at Phoenix Gaithersburg, we've been thinking and talking through the "how" and "why" of certain techniques. How would we use a certain block in kumite? Would it look different in a self defense situation? Why does my hand go here? Why does my elbow point in this direction?
By encouraging karateka to think through these kinds of questions, I believe that two important goals are being worked on:
1. First, we are all thinking through proper technique and practicing it over, and over, and over...and over.
2. The second goal, which is crucial for me as Sensei, is to create a learning environment where all students, regardless of rank or belt color, have something to contribute. This was so evident in our teen class yesterday when a white belt (John) shared an interpretation of a block that I had never considered before. As a teacher, it was an awesome experience.
In the world of budo karate, there is an expression: "copy first, create later". For year, rising through the ranks, I believe that the copying took place from white to brown belt and the creating had to wait until you achieved shodan (first degree black belt). The more I learn, train, and teach, the more I am beginning to shift that thinking so that instead of a student having one transitional moment where they move from copy to create, they are faced with that opportunity on a very regular basis. I believe that this will help ALL of us at Phoenix Gaithersburg to learn better, learn faster, and grown more tightly together. Time will tell.