Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Appreciate Correction

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.

Any thoughts?

7 comments:

Rick said...

... and you know what; there's always room for more correction. I remember Kushida sensei, 8th dan in aikido, talking about how he needed to improve his technique...

Rick said...

... and Chen taijiquan master Chen Xiao Wang saying in an interview that he still finds himself "cheating" here and there.

Mr. White Tiger said...

The purpose of an instruction is to provide guidance, and part of that is correction.

John W. Zimmer said...

What a great oppertunity to have the instructor to yourself for a bit! While it can be kind of un-nerving - it really helps you form. I seems good that he was straight forward about it.

Colin Wee said...

After I completed the section, my instructor worked with me on hip movement. I tend to lead with my arms instead of my body. Interesting. I've been telling my beginning students that most beginners think only of the tool that I'm showing. For instance, if it is a punch, all the focus is on the arm generating the force. Where in actuality, the arm and thus the punch is really the last manifestation of the power generation that occurs with the body. It's first from the legs and hips, then it goes through the core, and then lastly transmitted through the arms. Interesting that the Tai Chi instructor says the same thing. Colin

Traditional Taekwondo

Cheri said...

I also appreciate correction. I don't want to just do something -- I want to do it right. But I understand what you say about how different people take correction differently. The masters at my school have no problems giving very constructive correction. But other teachers I've had have sometimes been a little hesitant when correcting me the first time, as if they're afraid about how I'll take it.

Michele said...

Rick: So true...there is always room for more correction. Thanks.

Mr. White Tiger: Absolutely!

John Zimmer: Thank you for your comment. I agree. It was a great opportunity.

Colin: Thanks for the comment. The more I read/study, I am finding many similarities between styles. In Okinawa Kenpo, we also punch using the force generated from the legs and hip and then out through the arm.

Cheri: Thank you for your comment. That is how I feel...I want to do something right.