The best way is to think about what you want from your training.
- Do you want to get fit, get tough, and learn how to fight?
- Do you want a journey that will enhance every aspect of your life?
- Do you want a social outlet and way to release your energy?
- Do you want a black belt or be a champion of the world?
This has to be answered truthfully before choosing a class in any school. Being honest with your intentions will save you money and not waste your time or the teachers time and efforts.
Everybody has different journeys to travel; your path should be your own. To choose a school and a teacher I looked for the following in the training and instruction
Firstly is sincerity. The intentions of the teacher must be sincere to get the best out of the student. There are many teachers that claim sincerity through words but show something different. This is sometimes not noticed for years or decades.
Secondly is skillful training not just an aerobic workout. I figure that there is no point just performing just push ups and sit ups and a few basic techniques when you can still get a hard, energetic workout drilling techniques. The physical exercise is important but no less important than learning.
Thirdly is attention to fine details. The little things will make the difference. These are things you will notice yourself.
As an experienced instructor with experience training and teaching in several styles this is what I look for in a student.
First is Sincerity. The intentions of the student must be sincere to get the best out of the teacher. There are many students that claim sincerity through words but show something different. This is sometimes not noticed for years or decades.
Second is intention. When a student asks “how long til I get a black belt?” I usually add several years on to their journey. I strongly believe that when a student is focusing on a particular task or grade, they miss out on the peripheral which has so many lessons.
Third is an empty cup. It is hard to teach someone that knows everything already. Although I love students’ questions and them questioning particular things it is no teacher’s pleasure to be told “but I do it like…” or “nah that won’t work” or my least favorite “but what if”? A beginners mind is imperative, even when you have already learned that particular lesson.
Fourth is the attention to the finer details. To see a student move a little closer or in a different position in the room to see a technique they have studied for years and have a good understanding of it but still wish to further that understanding is very encouraging. From sending an email with correct spelling and pronunciation or wearing your belt straight with a clean pressed gi to throwing a punch with fist clenched correctly. This is an important mindset to have.
When I train or even speak to my teacher I analyze everything that is said. I think before I speak or ask questions. When I bow after conversation or lesson I bow with sincerity and think of the lessons that he has received and the hard work he put in to learn the things he has taught me. Although he is human whilst on the mat he is never wrong. What he says goes.
When searching for a new teacher I went all over Australia thinking I could not find someone in my area. As it happened his dojo was at the end of my street (and although I clearly lacked the attention to small details) I am so happy that I found it.
On arrival I was greeted warmly, respectfully and even though they knew I was an instructor of another system still treated me the same as everyone else. No special treatment. I still cleaned the dojo like everyone else, wore a white belt like everyone else, and was sent off for tuition with a junior grade instructor like every other new student there.
I wasn’t ever greeted with ego just confidence and their tradition. It was very different to what I knew yet was so refreshing to me. I don’t feel anyone has all of the answers so I suggest if this path is what you want then don’t settle for less than you desire or require. There are many schools out there I think you could get lessons from them all. Sometimes a negative lesson but remember that a prickly cactus can still give you water.
I hope this helps a little.
Sensei Lindsay Hart.