Undoing A Lesson

undoI could not have been in a better position to observe.

During a recent class, to my left was my instructor being very clear about “not jamming” the arm into the body. To my right was a student telling another student “to be sure to jam the arm into the body.”

If you are an instructor, have you had this issue before? Despite the well-meaning students (and sometimes other instructors), it can be rather frustrating when another student decides to teach during the class. Again, I have no doubt the intentions are commendable. The results are not always productive.

The best example in dealing with this issue, in my opinion, came watching Larry Reynosa Sensei during a seminar several years ago. Reynosa Sensei at that time was Steven Seagal‘s sempai, a talented and very skilled teacher and  aikidoka. He was demonstrating a specific technique and was careful to go into great detail about what to do and what not to do. It was a complex movement which spurred considerable confusion, particularly among the lower ranking students.

Reynosa Sensei overhead one student “explaining” the technique to another and he immediately stopped class.

“I spent 6 minutes going over this technique and in 20 seconds, you just undid my lesson.” Blunt and direct, nonetheless Reynosa Sensei had a valid point. Hearing the information directly is one thing. Hearing it interpreted through someone else’s eyes and ears is quite another. Regardless of positive intention, the meaning changed. The understanding changed. Inevitably the entire lesson was altered or as Reynosa Sensei stated, the lesson was undone.

For students, if you have a question, go to the source. Most instructors are more than happy to repeat, expand upon or explain the lesson so each student fully understands as much as possible in the moment. It is our responsibility to do so.

As students, it is our responsibility to learn as much as possible. It is our responsibility to set an example for others, particularly those coming up the ranks. It is our responsibility to be respectful to all.  It is not our job to teach.

The old clique of having 2 ears and 1 mouth is very apropos, in life and in martial arts.

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