This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting Master Pearson once again in West Hartford, CT. My students were thrilled to have the chance to meet him and learn with him. They were horribly behaved however and I was embarrassed…something to work on for the future.
As much as I love teaching martial arts and working with these kids and as excited as I am that my program has become a successful aspect of our congregation and a great opportunity for outreach in the community, there are times when I find myself complaining (not out loud of course) about the conditions under which I’m teaching. I have almost 30 kids every class and very little help, I don’t have black belt assistants, I have limited equipment, some of which is in poor condition, and a space that’s always either too big or too small. Our class is held at a bad time (Sundays from 11:45 to 12:45 after religious school when kids are hungry and tired). All this and more can make the classes draining and exhausting instead of leaving me with the thrilling rush of good feeling that I used to have at Master Pearson’s full time school.
But as I watched him teach my kids last Thursday, I was reminded of those feelings. I watched him exude the same passion and the same sense of caring, that he often exuded with my classmates and me when we were small. I watched him engage the kids who were misbehaving – directing their energy towards more useful purposes – just as he used to do with me. I watch him creatively re-appropriate the equipment that I did have in order to replicate some of the games and drills that I remember so fondly. I essentially witnessed a great example of martial arts resourcefulness.
Now of course, I should have expected nothing less from my teacher. But still, it struck me as a significant lesson. I too should tap into this resourcefulness that I know I possess. I have taught under far more challenging circumstances so I shouldn’t be flustered by my current situation. After all, I have 30 kids who love coming to class each week! I have two passionate helpers who, regardless of the fact that they may not know Taegeuk 1 from a hole in the ground, show up week after week, eager to help! I have a facility and a staff that recognizes the importance of this program and is willing to allow me to use the space. I have equipment – that I didn’t have to pay for! Many more instructors have dealt with far worse! They have sacrificed a lot in order to bring the gift of martial arts to others. I should count myself lucky!
What are the conditions under which you teach? What would you be willing to give up in order to bring your love of your practice to others? Are you resourceful and creative even when circumstances are challenging? To use Master Pearson’s tag line…something to think about!