Teacher’s Pet

GAH!  It’s becoming obvious that I am the new “teacher’s pet” in TKD.  I just earned my assistant leadership, along with the snappy new black pants.  Now Grandmaster is asking me to lead the end of class…..every time.  He also chooses me to be the example in class more often than not and keeps thrusting me into situations where he wants me to “lead”.  This is supremely uncomfortable for me.  Mostly because I really don’t want anyone to get the idea that there is any favoritism, but also because I am not a natural leader.  You know those people who seem to ooze authority?  Like that person in your group of friends that can introduce a totally ridiculous idea, but people go along with it anyway?  So not me.  I am naturally very content to just do what I’m told.  I’m task oriented.   Tell me what is expected and what needs to be done, and I’ll do it for you.

He had me finishing up class the other day and was correcting me the whole time.  Apparently I need to work on my “command voice”.  I’m just trying to get to the point where it doesn’t feel like I’m shouting at people.  It seems to come off that way because I’m exhausted after 45 minutes of hot, sweaty TKD and it’s all I can do to get myself to do the exercises, let alone have the energy level up to help others get through it.  I’m sure I’ll eventually find a way that works for me though.

I’m trying very hard not to complain.  My attitude is one of the things I’m working on lately.  I’ve found myself mentally criticizing myself, or crabbing out the instructors, and it’s not healthy or working for me in any way.  While in class, I have to consciously tell myself to relax before doing certain kicks or moves so I can perform better.  My hope is that in time this will become more of an unconscious action.  Grandmaster always tells me to relax and just have fun with it, and when I do, it’s infinitely more enjoyable, but it’s also much easier said than done.

After my next belt test, provided I pass, things get tougher and I need to learn a lot more.  Not just my own belt level stuff, but everything, in class format, for white belt.  Up until now, I’ve been confident enough that passing my tests have been all but assumed.  However at the higher levels they get tougher on the judging.  Some classmates of ours failed recently for doing a back stance in poomsae instead of a tiger stance.  I was shocked to hear they didn’t pass.  Usually they give you 5 minutes to review and correct and if you do it correctly you can pass (if that was your only mistake).  They have been changing requirements lately though, and some of us are a little confused as to what is going to be required.

On top of knowing all my requirements, I have tasks I need to do with my new assistant leadership position.  Like assisting in classes that I’m not participating in and some leadership projects that are required for full leadership.  It’s starting to feel a little overwhelming.  Enough so that I had a nightmare about tidal waves last night.  I haven’t had one of those in ages.  It probably didn’t help that one of the members who is also accelerating admitted to me the other day that he was ready to walk away last month.  He’s gotten past that, but it was shocking because he is one of the most dedicated students there, and he’s testing for black belt this October.

I swear I’m working on the attitude thing.  Sometimes it’s just a little harder finding a way to turn what seems so negative into a positive.

Intensity

A few weeks ago, one of the instructors at the dojang commented that, when I first started, I was probably the most intense white belt they had seen in a long time.  I was 15 lbs. heavier and would throw myself so completely into class that I would often be on the verge of total collapse, but I always made it through.  Early on, Grandmaster noticed this trait in me and encouraged it.  Lately I’ve noticed that the intensity has backed off a bit, but I still try to push myself pretty hard.  I’ve learned to pace myself a bit and I also think I no longer feel the need to prove how committed I am to practicing Tae Kwon Do.

Summertime has something to do with it I’m sure.  You ever hear of hot yoga?  Where you exercise in a room where the temperature is somewhere around body temperature?  Well I swear at our dojang in the summer we practice hot Tae Kwon Do.  The air conditioning is, in fact, on and in working order.  However you throw in the tar roof and a room full of exercising adults and the temperature is at a pretty steady 80-85 degrees with the fans on.  It’s even more brutal when we need to put our sparring gear on.  You don’t know hot until you wear a vinyl coated helmet and basically plastic coated chest protector, not to mention the shin/instep guards for 45 minutes in that training room.  Thankfully the instructors have us drink water every 10 minutes or so to keep hydrated.

Even so, there are times where I think for sure my spirit is going to be broken.  I think I nearly wept the other evening when midway through class we were instructed to put our sparring gear on.

Either that or the sweat was dripping into my eyes.

Grooming

No, no..I’m not talking about hygiene.  I’m talking about how I get the distinct feeling I’m getting groomed to be an instructor when I get my black belt.  Not only does Grandmaster introduce me as “our next WTF Poomsae World Champion” at times (which, while a HUGE compliment, seems quite premature), but he is encouraging me to help teach the lower belts (particularly yellow) their poomsae.  I’ve done it once so far and it is definately an interesting experience.  There is a huge difference of feeling between learning and teaching.  I’ve also lead the sit-ups and push-ups that usually end a class.  That I feel more comfortable with, but it’s still a feeling that will take some getting used to.

It’s funny, but I often refer to Grandmaster as Dumbledore because he seems to know everything that is going on in the dojang and he directs things to happen in very subtle ways.  I get the feeling that he knows that in my mind I tell myself that I don’t know enough, or I’m not good enough, and by putting me in a teaching position (no matter how minor) is a way for me to learn to silence that negative self-talk.

While I like the idea of being in a position of authority (of knowledge, not power to lord over people), I don’t know if I will ever be truly comfortable with the idea of leading a class.  I’m sure though that it is much like everything else in TKD and life, it gets easier with practice and repetition.