Monday, July 23, 2012

On Teaching... without any students

So, I've been attending Okinawan Karate Club for over a year.

I started at Chung Fu Do about 10 years ago, got my yellow, orange, and green belts there.  CFD was headed by Sensei Wilkewitz, and was one of three sister schools along the front range of the same lineage teaching Shudokan Karatedo.  Sempai Fussman went from brown to black belt.  Class was held above the Rio downtown and we had about 25 regular attendees.  I started attending because my mom and sister were having fun with it.  I kept going because of the incredible amount of fun and fellowship.  Every class, I said, "I was having trouble getting motivated to go work out, but I am so glad I went.  I learned so much!  The people are fantastic."

Then about five years ago, Sempai Fussman had been leading almost every class and Sensei Wilkewitz was unable to participate as much.  So Sempai Fussman started Warrior Gate and became Sensei Fussman.  I followed and obtained my purple belt after a couple prolonged breaks.  Class at Warrior Gate was excellent as well.  I watched Sensei Fussman become a true leader and skilled teacher.  We studied Chi Sao and I learned to connect all my movements to my center and through that manipulate my opponent/partner's center.

But life happens, and Warrior Gate closed, so I joined my third Shudokan line school with Master Shafer.  And it has been an excellent move - we think very similarly and he has spent over 25 years analyzing every aspect of the art.  I find my desire to learn met, and have picked up more history and the why it all works than I thought I ever would.  I know why he is a Master - he demonstrates a well planned and executed curriculum for all levels.  There's only one problem.  Right now, I am a brown belt and that is primarily a teaching rank.  There are no students of lower rank actively participating right now.  I need someone to teach!

[Shameless plug] - come learn from me and from Master Shafer and Sankyu Deb Shafer (Master Shafer's wife, and the dojo Sempai - head student)

Here's the card:

Tonights class discussed the Regulatory Path, the areas we study to establish finer awareness and therefore finer control as we progress through the ranks, starting with body (balance, coordination, speed, force, etc...), breath, mind and so on.  Great discussion.  We are a pretty geeky school at heart.

So, no students, but we (Sempai Shafer and I) are learning about the logic behind each of the drills, and the sequencing and order that is used to mutually reinforce growth so that a brown belt is attainable in 2-3 years and a black belt within four years.  I personally still prefer a slower pace, but it is really cool to see all the pieces fit together.  And I believe I have learned more about pedagogy and teaching through karate than through my time working for CSU in assessment.

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