May 17, 2018, Israel
Sensei Lawrence is rebuking the class, insulting the students, no mercy! He is the Bad Ass, the Tough Guy, the ultimate warrior. Students are quitting, the class size is reduced to half.
And then he has a vision.
He sees himself as a 12 year old boy. Now he is the one on the receiving end of insults and abuse. Perhaps that made him strong, perhaps that made him resilient but it also made him bitter. He is traumatized by his past. It was not a positive experience. Ultimately this bitter abuse did not contribute to making him a healthy adult.
He comes back to class, with a different attitude. Now he sees in his students himself, I was you. Now he understands them better. Yes, he wants to make them tough but he must take another approach. He sees their insecurities, their fears, their dreams. He understands that with the correct approach he can have a huge impact on their lives.
The movies and the Krav Maga advertisements tend to create this idealized romantic vision of the ultimate bad ass warrior. Many young students aspire to this. When I was young I thought that all those cool choreographed martial arts movie scenes were the real deal. As I advanced through decades of martial arts training I understood them for what they were; entertainment.
Let's get real.
I have trained with some of the "Baddest" , toughest fighters on the planet. A list of these men would be a "Whos Who" of martial arts legends. None were abusive to me. None were insulting, none ever deliberately hurt me.
Among the Japanese Kyukushin Karate was known as the "hard karate". When I would be discussing karate training with other martial artists and they would ask, what style do you train in? I would answer, Kyukushin Karate with Oyama. The room would turn silent. Even the Japanese would back off and say...Respect, that is the toughest Karate.
And yet I recall my arrival. Sempai Terrao humbly greeting me and welcoming me to the dojo. Sensei Romero offering constant support and encouragement. Even the grand master Oyama himself always had a kind word. And these guys were tough, very tough.
And now as my students stand in front of me I remember. I was you. I was once standing where you are standing now. I too was a beginner, I was new, I recall putting on the white belt. I recall my first stripe on my belt. I was you.
I know that what looks easy for the instructor can be confusing for the student. I was you.
And I know how far I have come, and I know how far you can go. I was you.