I’ve trained in a variety of different dojos, with slightly different styles from my own. It’s been great from an experience perspective. I’ve had the opportunity to recognize that not everything is structured in only one way, which is a perspective I clearly lacked during my time back home. One particular detail is that not all classes have the same length. Sensei used to believe in a two-hour class and would never sway from that. I’ve taken classes that have been as short as an hour. In fact, my current dojo has one-hour class times.
Ultimately, it’s not the amount of time that the class lasts that really matters but what you do WITH that time. A twenty minute session can be invaluable, so long as you actually train and learn something while you’re there. If you’re spending half the class taking water breaks and stalling your instructor with questions you already know the answer to, so that you can recover, you’re wasting your time. And time is exactly the purpose behind today’s post.
They say that time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve heard that on a few occasions. Karate is fun. At least, I think it is. And anyone who practices it should be fully committed in this manner, as well. While I was coming up through my formative years, Sensei has a small wall clock mounted in the dojo. Now, our dojo was a small storage room off a large basketball gymnasium. I say small but it was about thirty by fifty feet. A decent space for a larger class. But the clock didn’t belong to us, it belonged to the building. The problem came when students started glancing at the clock repeatedly.
There’s nothing worse, and this is one of my biggest pet peeves, than training and trying to explain something when the student’s mind is a million miles away and staring at the clock. It eventually got to the point that Sensei just took the clock down and stuffed it aside. After all, Sensei would open the class and indicate when it ends. There’s no need for students to be watching the clock. Unless they’re bored or don’t want to be there.
Unfortunately, I’ve fallen victim to this phenomenon, as well. For a few years while I was training in a particular dojo, I would compulsively stare at the clock. The class was an hour and half long; definitely not the longest I’ve ever been through. But as the months elapsed, I began to notice that whenever there was a “lull” in the class I would glance at the class to see how long there was left to the class. It took me a while to recognize that it was because I was unfortunately bored.
At that point, I had a difficult decision to make. I could allow my stubbornness to keep me rooted where I was or I could realize that this style and class format wasn’t for me and move on. I have a history of sticking it out, long after In should move on. Ultimately, I moved on. Sometimes, sacrifice is necessary in order to gain clarity. But even in the current dojo I train with, some students watch the clock as though they’;re hoping to see the needle move quickly around the face, which leads me to feel some of them really don’t want to be there.
When you study the martial arts, you have to be in the moment. You have to focus and concentrate on what you’re doing and not worry about the time. Your instructor will let you know when class is done. there’s no need to watch the clock. If you find that time is ALWAYS dragging on for you and you just can’t help it, maybe where you are isn’t for you. Food for thought… ☯️