A good question

One of my students asked me the other day ‘What can I do to become a better student?’ This is a most important question we should ask ourselves and our instructors. It is up to the student to take a personal interest in studying their art, both in theory and in practice. There is always something to research and always something to train, and yet many students sit back and just attend a class or two a week expecting to be given all of the skills, answers and grades.

As with most things, true understanding comes from direct experience, and this deepens with time and awareness. If we are commited to our training, we should make time to study the things we do not have time for in class. This includes theory, repetition of taijutsu drills, physical conditioning and extended meditation.

In class we should aim to become more focused on the subtleties of our taijutsu, and like a carpenter who gradually refines his work, we should constantly try to refine everything about our technique; timing, distance, balance, posture, rhythm, flow, feeling and spirit. We should try to realise the natural function of our taijutsu and look beyond the form to understand ‘why’ it works.

We should question ourselves to find and realise the answers, and ask those more experienced if we are unsure. In truth, we ourselves are the teacher while sensei just points the way. With all of this in mind, we should ask  ‘What can I do to become a better student?’.