Last night, I had a special opportunity during karate class that hasn’t happened in years. I had the chance to train with a new student on his very first night of karate. You would likely ask, “What’s the big deal?”
There’s something special about training with someone when they’ve walked into a karate class for the first time. Everyone has a different reason for joining the martial arts. Some do it for exercise, some are looking to learn the art and some have a seriously deluded idea about what martial arts actually is!
But regardless of the reason, there’s a palpable anxiety that people have when they train in karate for the first time. The mysterious movements, the unknown techniques and the awkward attempts at trying to follow along. I got to train with a young man tonight who came in with the hopeful gaze of someone looking to learn the martial arts.
He struggled throughout the stretching and the warm-up portion. Once we started working in pairs, he got some pointers from a few different students and we eventually got to working together. As his frustration grew while trying to learn some techniques we were working on, I compared his training to buying a new pair of sneakers:
“At some point, you’ve chosen new sneakers, right? Well, even when you find a pair that fit you just right and look good, you have to break them in. They’re brand new, and the first number of times you wear them, your feet will adjust and shape them to your specific steps and the needs of your feet. Karate is very much the same. You have to break it in. The first few times you do it, it’ll be a bit awkward and it’ll take some time to adjust. But once you do, it’ll feel comfortable. Just like a decent pair of sneakers…”
The class ended with the young man ready to come back the following week. It’s just one of those things… When you start learning something new, you have to be prepared to work at it and get used to it before you decide whether it’s for you or not. You gotta break in the sneakers… ☯