Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fall Girl

Tonight in karate class I tackled my first roll fall and break fall since my surgery. My last post dealt with my recent back pain so I figure that I must be a glutton for punishment. I watched a few of the students perform their falls for a few minutes before I decided to give it a shot. I was concerned about which leg I would lead with and which side I would land on. I stood at the edge of the mat, took a deep breath and went splat. I was always a pretty good "fall girl". My instructors would often use me as an uke and I would go spinning and falling across the dojo floor. Tonight my first attempt was pretty much a barrel roll. I took a few attempts and eventually I was able to fall better but I still have to practice.

It has been about 16 years since I walked into the dojo and signed up for my first karate class. I knew a little about karate because my husband was a brown belt at the time. I was newly married and decided to join karate rather than staying home alone. Sometimes it is hard to remember what it felt like walking on the dojo floor that first night. The class tonight was a reminder of how it felt. I have been doing/teaching roll falls and break falls for years. I even dabbled with some jujitsu classes when I was a brown belt to augment my bunkai. Tonight I had to relearn this skill. It did not just come back to me naturally. I had to think about it and teach my body how to move and I have a lot more practicing to do.

I have always felt that to be a good instructor it was important to be an active student. A good instructor knows how it feels to not quite "get it", to have questions or to have the wrong foot forward. A good instructor knows that people learn differently and it is important to approach material in different ways. Tonight was an excellent example of what it means to be a student and an instructor.


Bob M said...

This is really interesting, Michele. I like that you're so conscientious about being an instructor but wanting to know what it feels like for students.

And it gives me an idea of what it's going to feel like returning to grappling in February. I'm also going to have a lot of trepidation.

I'm also impressed you've been in the same dojo for 16 years--wow.

Michele said...

The roll falls were an eye opener for me. I was not expecting it to be so difficult. I was concerned about landing poorly on my leg. It was a mental challenge as well. You will have to let me know how grappling is for you.

Hack Shaft said...

I love reading how such a fundamental thing as knowing how to fall is a new thing to you, especially as a 16-year veteran and instructor.

I think nothing makes an instructor of any kind better than having to tackle fundamental things as a beginner again.

Michele said...

I think that over the course of my recovery I am going to find more things that make me feel like a beginner again. I was expecting to walk up to the mat and just practice my falls. My mind remembered how to fall but my body did not respond the way it did before the surgery. I am not sure of the medical terms for this but my PT explained that after a surgery "connectors" are broken and it disrupts how the brain sends signals to the body. It definitely gives me another point of view.