July 16, 2017, Israel
How well can you do a technique when it counts?
Answer: You do not know.
In all my many years of training there was never a time when I showed up for class and said, "Darn, that again!"
Every Sunday and Tuesday at Itay it was the same. Always, the same, and that was good. Let me kick you in the leg and you will see how good it was that we repeated the same lesson again and again. But you see Itay offered three lessons each time, 5- 6, 6-7, 7-8,. And ..they were all the same. And, I was always on time, and I attended each and every one. I never missed a lesson. Itay used to say "As much as I know the sun will shine tomorrow I know Moshe will be on the mat".
Usually the sun did shine. But I was always on the mat. And it did not matter how many times we repeated the same lesson. I was always eager to learn it.
That is why it is so gratifying when I show up to do a seminar and some hapless "wannabe" tells me not to teach what I taught for 3 hours last year. Clearly he thinks he has mastered it. As Jesus Santana would say in "The Big Lebowski", "Laughable".
But in fact it is sad, pathetic.
There has never been a time when I felt I knew any technique well enough that I should stop practicing it. Never. There has never been a time when I felt I had no room for improvement. Never. There has never been a time when I felt I mastered any technique. Never.
I am still learning.
Henry David Thoreau said that once he created the perfect pencil he felt no need to ever make another pencil. But a self defense technique is a different matter. There is no end to learning, there is no end to training. There is no end to danger.
You think you know a technique, well, doing it slowly in the dojo with a friend, that is nice. But now imagine you are coming home late at night, and some nasty excuse for a human being rams a gun up your throat. Do you still feel that you know the technique? Are you still willing to arrogantly tell your instructor, "We did that last year, don't waste my time on it again".
I would watch Itay do the low kick. I would watch him as if I was watching for the very first time. I would analyze his movement, I would listen to his every word. It did not matter that I heard it all just an hour ago, and two hours ago and yesterday. Every time I listened as if it were the first time. Now that is why at the bottom of this page you will see the title "Master", yes, I earned that by international accreditation and recognition. I earned that by training, I earned that by being humble. And no, I did not earn it by saying, "Do not teach me what you already taught me".
A student does not tell a teacher what to teach. If he does then he no longer has a teacher, he has an employee.
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