I was alone in the workout studio at the gym as I waited for the Tai Chi instructor. The other students are usually already there practicing. Class time approached and it was just me. When the instructor arrived, he asked me to perform the first section of the Yang long form so he could correct the postures.
My initial reaction was …Oh, no! This was the first time that I performed part of the Tai Chi form alone as my instructor watched. I took a deep breath and went through the first section. Despite my nerves, the thought that went through my head was gratitude. I was excited and grateful for the opportunity to be corrected because correction leads to improvement.
After I completed the section, my instructor worked with me on hip movement. I tend to lead with my arms instead of my body. My instructor told me to focus on relaxing my shoulders. I appreciate the one-on-one correction and explanation. A few minutes later, another student arrived and class continued.
Let us change perspective. In the above example, I discuss what correction means to me as a beginning student of Tai Chi. Now I want to discuss how I feel about correction as an instructor of Okinawa Kenpo.
No surprise…I feel the same way. I am excited when I can offer the students correction. It is an opportunity to improve. I want to help. I feel it is my obligation as an instructor to guide the students. This is tough because I must remember that there are people who do not feel the same way about correction as I do.
When I was a kyu rank, my class instructor taught a group of students with different feelings about correction. There were students in the class that correction went in one ear and out the other. Some students got visibly upset while others appreciated correction. The class instructor would make general comments “O.K. everyone…check your stance.” Usually the students who were in the correct stance would double check and the students who needed correction did not check. It finally got to the point where he would make a disclaimer before class. He told the students not to get upset, that he was not picking on anyone but if he needed to make a correction, he was going to be specific and name the student.
I recognize the importance of correction. As a student, I am grateful to receive it and as an instructor, I offer it with sincerity.