Friday, February 09, 2007

Black Belt Test Week: Mentor

Last night, Ms. Pryor watched me do my forms and step sparring. I'd saved the last column of my board for her. Both she and Master Hughes have been great mentors to me as I've been learning TKD.

Master Hughes
Master Hughes teaches by example, showing us all how to have enthusiasm and energy for teaching, how to welcome new students, and how to encourage and challenge others.

He challenges us, too. I especially like when he works with us one-one-one or in small groups on our forms. He has won national competitions in forms, and his moves are powerful and dramatic. Sometimes recently, he's been busy getting new people started--and he even has some of the tiniest TKD students working out at the back of the room on MW. I hope that as I continue as a black belt that he's able to continue instructing me. I wonder, now that we have so many new black belts, if he might start a Black Belt class.

Ms. Pryor
Ms. Pryor mentors by challenging us--to do forms with more power and crispness and drama, to work harder at aerobic stuff, to move to higher levels in sparring. She helped me prepare for the two tournaments I went to in the fall, and I'm sure it was her advice that helped me do as well as I did. She sets an example with her intensity, her love of Tae Kwon Do and her devotion to good teaching.

She also is very reflective and philosophical on the meaning of martial arts in her life, and she wants us to be, too.

Last night, before we started, she handed me her belt. "I want you to get the feeling of this belt," she said. She pointed out that it's thicker and wider than the other colored belts. Hers, I noticed, is slightly worn at the edges. It felt heavy and full of meaning.

As I worked through my forms, she gave advice. She corrected movements, but more of it was general: to make my stances bigger, to lower my back stance, to make blocks more powerful. That kind of global advice seems most useful to me.

She surprised me, though, when we were done. "Take all this advice with a grain of salt," she said. "You can use this advice when you're doing your test--or not. It's up to you."

I think I was already sorting out what parts of her advice would be most helpful to me, but it meant a lot that she was letting me choose. That seems to be an important step for a black belt. Now my martial arts education is truly going to be my own.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Good luck! I'll be there pulling for you and Mr. Been!