Set a high bar and reach for that star! (part 1)

I wonder if I can jump this high when I attempt a flying front kick…..

The next couple of weeks training are going to be good. We have 2 visiting instructors coming across to take some workshops. They are all on my usual training days and I will endeavour to get to them all (which should work out with a bit of shuffling at work and home).

Typically these workshops are aimed at the higher ranks (which I am not), and these ones will be no exception. The last time I went to a workshop (about a year ago), I had been training in Karate for about 5 months. I was a white belt (ie I had not graded at all yet) and I was, by and large training an hour or 2 a week. I attended one of the two workshops (not really knowing what it was on or what to expect) and arrived to discover we were tackling a pretty tough (ie blackbelt) kata; just marginally overwhelming (ahem) for someone who had barely learned the movements to her first kata (and at the end of the workshop was asked to perform that first kata to be appraised by all…..eeeek!). 

Did I struggle learning a blackbelt kata? Sure.

Did I feel a bit like a fish out of water? Too right.

Did I hop out the pool because I was way out of my depth? NO!


Well, I went and I stayed because I knew I would learn from the experience. Learning is about challenging yourself. You can’t (by definition) learn something you already know / feel comfortable with. The higher you set the bar, the higher you have to reach for it (jump for it in my case often enough). If you put yourself in a room full of people more knowledgeable than you (in this case that was pretty much everyone in the room when it came to karate), you are bound to learn something useful.

Some things will be immediately useful and other things will be stored away in the back of your mind and will make more sense later. The other thing that you stand to learn when you join in a workshop like this is what the road ahead looks like. Some of this occurs via observation and some by networking.

Part of the learning I did happened at the workshop (and yes I still remember bits of the kata and applications and recognised it when it came up in class later), but an equally important part of the learning happened at the dinner held afterwards. I remember learning lots of things at the dinner (and not just about what people chose to eat after training, which was in and of itself interesting to me), but practical things eg about embusen (even though I didn’t know that was what the pattern / map of a kata was then) and more general things about “the journey”. One of the brown belts said something about climbing the mountain and going around it for different views. I just smiled and nodded politely at the time, but I can honestly say that I am now starting to see the point of what he was saying.

So this years round of workshops (there are 4 in the next month run by three instructors) are going to be great I am sure. Challenging, yes, but great. Although a year’s more experience and more intense training should leave me feeling a little less overwhelmed than last time, in reality it isn’t likely to make much difference. Seriously though, does it matter? If I didn’t sink or drown last time when I was so out of my depth, then how will this time be any different? Perhaps I will surprise myself and be able to tread water this time!


3 thoughts on “Set a high bar and reach for that star! (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Not drowning, but waving: Engaged not Engulfed. | A work in progress

  2. Ohhhh yes, you’ll still feel a little overwhelmed 🙂 It’s just that this year, you’ll have had practice at feeling overwhelmed, and this year you know you’ll get through it. The up side is you will probably find yourself helping a newbie who feels overwhelmed 🙂 Or even someone who outranks you! I helped a newbie with her very first grappling exercise and I reassured someone who outranks me by telling her that she needs to know she can throw someone my size and not to worry about hurting me ’cause I bounce 🙂


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