Continued from: “Training the beginner: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”
One of the biggest challenges I have found in my years of teaching is dealing with students who come from other systems. It is much easier to teach a student who has come to you with a clean slate because they have not become accustomed to a particular style. I do however, welcome people from other systems and don’t want them to lose what another teacher has taught them. What I do want them to do is to learn my system and appreciate it for its simplicity and practicality. We often have to prove ourselves to students from other systems because they are expecting lots of complicated techniques, one-step, two-step sparring routines and long and involved self-defense maneuvers. For example, we had a guy train with us who was considered a super martial artist from Europe. He had a lot of fancy techniques. I paired him up with a student who had good endurance, hard shins and a good roundhouse kick. After they sparred, the guy from Europe with all the martial arts experience couldn’t understand how a guy with only one good technique was able to hurt him. Once you send a message, then you can get back to the business of training.
A highly ranked instructor and student of Ninjutsu came to train with me. He was very good, but didn’t understand our method of endurance training and conditioning. It is my philosophy to prepare you for an attack and to counterattack using the strongest part of your body-the leg.
I paired this experienced guy with a student who was a bit on the heavy side and had big legs. My student had good basic techniques. I let the two of them go at each other. My student threw one of his hard kicks and dropped him to the ground. He now understood the meaning of our training.
I enrolled this one guy who had trained in a very traditional school for over 12 years. He told me that he hadn’t trained in a long time and wanted to get back into shape. He came to the group class and all he did was question everything we were doing, claiming that there was a better way and that his instructor would have done it differently. I left him alone for about 4 classes. Each time he refused to learn anything and interfered with class. Finally, I decided that he needed to be taught a lesson. I paired him up with a man who had been training with us for just about 5 months and was 3 times smaller than this guy. I asked them to do roundhouse kicks using a pad. He made sure to tell us that they did the roundhouse kick differently in his other school. I then told him to kick his opponent with his roundhouse kick. All of his kicks were blocked. It was impossible for him to hit his opponent with the roundhouse kick he was so proud of. It was particularly embarrassing when his opponent kicked him and he almost was thrown to the ground. While this guy was very good in his particular system, he had no endurance in his legs and arms and could not survive in a fight.
This story had a good ending. He finally understood and didn’t interfere with his classes. He participated and opened his mind to learning something new because he had to experience the value of what we were teaching first hand. We ended up becoming good friends and had an understanding that any disagreements he had with my instructors would be addressed to me after class. I appreciated his years of training and acknowledged that he had a lot to offer. By having a dialogue with me outside of class, I was able to explain why we did things differently in a way that did not threaten him into thinking that we were contradicting the system he had studied for over 12 years.
To be continued…
Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness
507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851