There is a lot of pleasure in spending an hour with someone else’s children, knowing that after all the fun and games you can hand them back. Or in my case, if I didn’t give them back I would be kidnapping them all. Particularly the infants and juniors, who are always a delight to teach. I’m sure they have their naughty side at home but at Honbu they all seem to be ready, eager and willing to do what I ask of them.
I can hear Sensei Sheila laughing. Perhaps I need to spend a little more time with them and they will be running circles around me. I’ve taught children in sports centres and schools but there is something about teaching children in a dojo that is a little special. Particularly Honbu Dojo as it is surrounded with photos and artefacts of Ishin Ryu’s development and history.
Sensei Sheila left her students with me just as they had successfully completed their grading so my first week was organised. I had the fun task of presenting them with their new obi and of course playing games.
When I am teaching, I like to put my own spin on things so I adapted few of the games to add a little extra fun. The game Corners was adapted to get the students to impersonate animals as they moved from corner to corner trying to avoid detection. I’m not sure which of us found it funnier, the kids impersonating a mouse or an elephant or me giggling at how funny they all looked trying to run around the dojo impersonating a giraffe.
The second week, the infants and juniors were taught front breaking strangles and new ground holds. Soke stepped into the dojo to watch the class. He was suitably impressed by how quickly the children picked up the techniques.
The third week, I taught rear breaking strangles. These techniques are quite technical and I could see the immense concentration on the student’s faces in their attempts to get the technique right.
The children never cease to impress me at Honbu; I have watched Jasmine Luckett and Grace Norcutt improve steadily over the last year. Both remind me of my days as a child practicing ju-jitsu. These young ladies have the potential to grow up to be very gifted martial artistes. Jasmine proved this in effortlessly winning ground fight after ground fight against her fellow students. She’s a tough little cookie as is Grace who is as determined to get stuck in.
A special mention should go to Ruairi and Persephone Bruce who graciously helped me in the infant classes. They assisted with the demonstrations but also with the some of the infants who needed a little more support. Super helpers.
The adult classes were a little leaner over July due to students taking their holidays. But the teenagers were mostly all training and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to check their admin and knowledge of ju-jitsu history. I also wanted to check their techniques from their previous belts. Of course, a little nudging was required in places. I can’t emphasise how important it is to keep on top of your admin. Ensure you have the correct grading sheets in your folders. Bring a towel, notepad, pen and water to the session. These are the basics but they are extremely important to ensure the training session is productive and safe.
After successfully grading to blue, Harry, Finley, Grace and Katy were keen to get through their purple belt. They are moving swiftly and successfully through their pistol techniques. I used a couple of lessons to drop in practising previous belts. Occasionally they were a little forgetful. The teenagers have a big advantage to most adults when practising their syllabus.
When they are old enough to join the adult session, they will already have knowledge of pretty much all the syllabus. Sebby Weatherill has demonstrated this effectively as he successfully moves through his adult syllabus. I am a big advocate of occasionally going through one of your previous belts just to keep it fresh in your mind.
As Sempai our training is no different. We need to constantly go over and over the whole syllabus to keep it fresh, sharp and to be able to pass our knowledge effectively on to other students. Coupled with learning a few new techniques for your forthcoming grading – this can all be achieved in an hour if you knuckle down and use the hour effectively. Georgia impressed me, her knowledge of her white and yellow was excellent and she is moving steadily through her orange syllabus.
I really enjoyed stepping in to teach the infants, juniors and teenagers. It’s always great to see the next generation of Ishin Ryu students developing their knowledge of ju-jitsu and doing it all with smiles on their faces.