About The Following Blog

The following blog has been written purely for those wanting a first hand knowledge of what it is like to step into the dojo for the first time as a complete beginner as a Martial Artist. Through practising a Martial Art, you will gain many things such as self-confidence, self-respect and life-long and good friends. I hope this helps you to see into an amazing world of which you have never seen before and that I have had the privilege of belonging to and knowing.
Although I have not put my name or any name to this blog, it does deserve a dedication- a dedication to those who help people to train, who teach, reassure and most important of all- those who never give up, no matter how many times they hit the ground or a mental brick wall, with themselves or others. But above all- those who are ready to begin their own journey, it begins with one step….

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Chapter 79: Student, Kohai, Senpai, Coach, Sensei - The many different roles you fulfil over time in a dojo

My inspiration for this post came from reflecting on how my role at my club has changed, especially over the last year.

Two years ago, I was just a student who assisted with a little bit of administration and made sure that leaflets advertising the club were always at the front desk of the sports centre where we train. My biggest worry/concern each week was merely whether or not the endometriosis would cut me some slack this week to train followed by if the bus for once, would be on time for me to get to class.

Now what is my role? Well, I'm now usually the second highest (or at least the third highest) grade in attendance on the mat each week. That was the first change. And it was a big one. Whereas before I received direction, suddenly I had to direct lower grades. If Sensei was talking to a parent after the Juniors class, it was now suddenly my responsibility as a higher grade to start the warm up and basic drills to prepare the adults class so that we were ready for Sensei to start teaching. As a result of me having to lead, I guess I began to earn the respect of the lower grades. So much so, that I was started to be addressed as 'Senpai'. I have never insisted that I was and am to be addressed as such, just my first name is fine by me. But there are a few lower grades who wish to show me that respect, therefore I have to accept that they wish to demonstrate their respect in this way. I found this quite hard at first. I still do not feel that I have fully earned the title of 'Senpai', it is not something that sits well with me. But as the weeks have gone by, I feel that I am starting to 'grow' into the role of a Senior student. Perhaps this is the natural order of things - who knows?

The next big change was when I qualified as a coach. I skipped quite happily back to my club full of enthusiasm and positivity. But be warned, the one thing that the coaching course did not quite prepare me for was the psychological side of coaching, especially children and disruptive ones at that. But I am learning what makes each of the Junior students 'tick' about their Aikido. Some like just to be shown once and left to practice. Some like to 'walk' or 'mirror' me through a technique, then practice. Others like to have the technical aspects broken down and shown bit by bit first, then left to work on it. Every student is different. One thing that both children and adults have in common is that they like to feel that they are listened to and that their opinions as club members are valued. So I think I am getting the hang of coaching slowly but surely.

The next big change would be for me to have my own club I guess. It has been discussed. But I am not sure if that is the next step for me once I achieve 1st Dan. I still feel that I am growing in my role as a coach, and there will be a transition period of where I 'grow' into feeling comfortable as a 1st Dan. So we shall see. At the moment I am quite enjoying teaching. I might not be the one to win gold medals at the next Championships but I can coach and I do coach well. I think I have finally found my niche in Aikido.