Recently I have been thinking a lot about attendance as it relates to martial arts practice and instruction. It seems that situations related to this keep popping up in my life. Take this post for instance…funny how I am the only post you’ll read from a Hagsaeng Naebu student this week (errr last week because I was supposed to post this yesterday…my bad sorry everyone). That’s because everyone else got to go Cincinnati, something which I was unable to attend due to significant distance and the fact that I work 16-18 hour days these days. At any rate, I was very sad that I was not able to join for the trip. But to add insult to injury – everyone else got a week off of posting! What’s up with that??!!
Incident #2: I started a new program here in our community in West Hartford. Our first class was Sunday and we had 20 participants ranging in age from 5-13. There were far more kids than I had expected. I had been prepared to teach only a few and for those of you out there who are also instructors, you know how awkward this can be. It is hard to teach without the energy that a large class provides. Though it is certainly possible to create a meaningful and memorable experience with so few students, it requires a great deal of work on the part of the instructor. I was grateful that my class was so well supported and I hope that it continues.
Incident #3: I heard through the grapevine that attendance was a bit of a challenge at the weapons seminar in Cincinnati. There is a strong core of dedicated students who look forward to each of these sessions, practice diligently in between, and who are careful never to miss a seminar with Master Pearson. But, that doesn’t mean that the program couldn’t be expanded. There are so many students who could nurture their interest in martial arts, try something new, develop a new skill, and derive a tremendous amount of benefit from participating in these seminars. More students in that area need to be made aware that such opportunities exist!
I recently read an email from a professional networking group in which the writer explored how we as teachers and leaders in our various communities handle the disappointment of small numbers, of low attendance at our events. He mentioned that as a young man, one of his mentors used to give lectures at his small boarding school. The lectures were optional and offered late in the evening. He commented that he was always disappointing that only a handful of the 200 students would ever stick around to listen. And yet, his mentor delivered the lecture as if he was speaking to a full house. There is a lesson conveyed in this story. I believe that as instructors we owe it to our students, we show them the greatest honor and in turn honor our role as instructors when we fully dignify their presence with our own regardless of how many of them there are. Master Pearson expressed this same value last weekend. When I asked Mr. Walsh about the classes Master Pearson taught, I was not surprised to hear that they were some of the best yet!
As I move forward with my program here in West Hartford, I am going to remember Master Pearson’s example. Attendance comes an goes. Sometimes it’s within our control and other times, even when we rely on others to help spread the word, we don’t get the support we were hoping for. But despite the numbers we must strive to offer those who show up our full presence and our best “performance.”
Requirement (24 hours later) fulfilled,