Physical Training Jan 2009
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Face Time

copyright © 2008 Kim Taylor, all rights reserved

In this era of email and texting, not to mention books and videos, it may seem that we don't really need to spend as much time face to face as we once used to. We can communicate quite nicely by remote means so what's the point of spending the time to get in front of someone else and say the same thing.


Much as I'm a fan of books and videos, I produce them, I have read and watch them, there's a whole range of learning that needs to be done face to face with your instructor. The immediate feedback is of course a wonderful chance to fix things quickly. With an art like iaido your sensei can watch and correct what needs to be corrected, and let you know when you've fixed it. Often the correction that's needed is something that isn't apparent at first. If your swing has a hitch in it, the problem may actually be earlier in the kata where you aren't looking quickly enough, or you're turning too late. A good sensei can spot that and correct it with very little fuss. Learning it by trial and error while watching video of yourself and others can be a much slower process.

In partner practices such as judo, kendo, aikido or any of the kata based kenjutsu schools the immediate feedback from your partner is especially difficult to replace. Learning the many shifts in balance and momentum that happen in the body while interacting with someone else is difficult to learn from a book or over the telephone.


There is a whole range of instruction that you get by just being around a good instructor. How to teach, how to deal with problems, how to treat your juniors and your students. A good part of becoming a good martial artist and a good person is to have a good role model, and most of the things you are learning in this way have little to do with the technical aspects of training. Natural talent and hard work can't make up for being around to find out how do deal with others in a way that benefits everyone.


It's no secret that once you get to the higher levels of a martial art you'd better start getting your face in front of the judges if you want to pass your next grading. I'm talking the top levels, where you have some serious effect on where the art will go in the next generation. You need to let the various judges see you and comment on your technique. You also need to prove to them that you're serious about the art, that you are willing to spend the time and money to get to the seminars and that you're listening and working on the changes suggested.

Just as important, you're letting the judges see your iaido, to get used to it.


This brings us to the judges themselves, it's as important for judges to see different students at seminars as it is for them to be seen. A judge that spends all his time with his own students may have a hard time accepting variations in technique. By watching a wide variety of students a judge will develop a good feel for the range of movement that exists in his or her organization. This makes a better judge and a better organization.


Finally, for those in charge of any organization, it's important to spend as much time face to face as possible. It's difficult to be misunderstood if you're looking at the person talking, we read body language and tone very well, as a rule, and so it's harder to be misunderstood or to deliberately deceive. People of good will can find a way to work out their differences if they are sitting at the same table. When they are communicating by distance it can be difficult to find common ground. Perhaps because they are not on common ground.

So for many reasons it's a good idea to get as much face time in as possible, no matter what position you hold in an organization.

Our Sponsor, SDKsupplies
Physical Training Jan 2009