Friday, October 28, 2005

Professor Blue Belt

"How did your martial arts test go the other week?"

It's a transitional moment at the end of my morning class at the college and one of my students is talking to me as I walk by her desk.

I'd mentioned my TKD test to them before their mid-term. Apparently my exams have a reputation for being . . . difficult . . . and they were worried. It's an upper-level theory class, and the material is challenging. So I encouraged them, gave them some tips for studying, and then told them that I, too, was facing a scary test. That was a while back. And Jamie was asking about my test now.

"Well, thanks for asking, Jamie," I reply. "It was a hard test, but I passed."

"I think I'd like to take martial arts, too, someday," says Jamie.

"I bet you will," I answer. "Just think, I was 42 when I began taking martial arts!"

"Are you over forty?" exclaims Marie, sitting next to Jamie. "You can't be in your forties! I never would have guessed!"

Well!

"You made my day, Marie!" I put my arm around her, laughing.

The other students are apparently listening. They can tell someone's getting me off-track.

"So what belt color are you?" someone asks.

"I was a white belt with a stripe once," says Zach. Everyone laughs.

I tell them about being a blue belt, and I explain how it fits in the scheme of things.

They're all looking at me now, expectantly.

I find it fascinating that some of my students are interested in who I am outside the classroom. I don't remember having that curiosity about my own professors. Except maybe the very young and interesting ones--OK, maybe they think I'm young . . . Or maybe they just want to derail me!

"So could you knock me out?" asks Garrett. He's about 6'3" and sturdy, a basketball player.

Everyone laughs.

"Well, Garrett, I have to live by the tenets of Tae Kwon Do, and one is that I will not misuse Tae Kwon Do. So, no, I'm not going to knock you out." They laugh again.

"But, OK, can I brag about Tae Kwon Do just a tiny bit?" I ask.

Everyone sits up straighter. "Yes, Yes!"

"We had a little practice tournament in class on Saturday, and in my little group of four competitors, I came in first in sparring. I beat a young woman about your age, and then I beat a 6' tall guy who's a police officer."

A bit of chaos erupts.

"Wow!"
"Watch out Garrett!"
"You did? You're so . . . small!"

"You beat a guy?" asks Nate. He's about 6'2" and a football player.

"Yep." More chatter and chaos. "So watch out," I say.

"OK." I turn back to my notes. Did everyone get out your syllabus? Take a look at the reading listed for Monday."

They turn to their papers and take a look. Maybe with a new-found respect for their . . . small professor.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Hey Jane! I really like your blog and it's very interesting to read your entries. Do you think you could visit my xanga sometime? www.xanga.com/xXxSportySweetiexXx
Okay, well I will see you Wednesday, I hope. Have a Happy Halloween!!

Stephanie