Do I Really Listen?
I’d like to think that I listen well, every class. And I’d like to think that I encode what is being taught in the classes accurately. I’d also like to think that there are no bad people in the world, that my wits will never fail me, and that Santa Claus exists. (Rob, I’m sorry for the spoiler on Santa.)
I have repeatedly come to the realization that I really don’t listen as well as I should. The weakest link in my “learning chain” has always been me, so long as I’ve been under Larry. I find myself having to request that a technique be done again and telling myself: “Ok, this time REALLY watch.” In one of my communications classes they told us that listening is an active process, where questions are an important part of understanding what the person is saying. It’s like a puzzle, and you have to ask for the pieces you don’t have. I find myself filling in the pieces too often, and if I didn’t have the picture to begin with then how do I know how to fill them? Number one, questions are good and usually welcome. Number two, it helps me a tremendous amount to attack the instructor on any given technique. My eyes lie to me, and they can’t be trusted alone to give me answers to my taijutsu questions.
I have faith that I can listen, but it takes training. I have to train myself to listen better, to listen smarter. Why does this work? How is he generating power? It is ultimately my responsibility to learn the principles for myself. When other students ask me about a part of the technique, unless it is something about how to tie your belt or which foot is the left one, I tell them to attack Larry. It can’t hurt (the learning process), and it will almost always help. If you think you’re bothering your instructor too much by asking them questions, you’re probably wrong. Until Larry tells me to stop bothering him, I will ask questions and attack him as often as I can, for my own sake.
I also came to the conclusion that sempai are priceless, and that I need to be more attentive to their comments. Our local senior student, Bojo, is taking a job overseas where he’ll be gone for a year. During this time I will drown in my own stupidity. I am losing my bridge to the wonderful taijutsu that I am incapable of, and I have taken that bridge for granted. When I look at Larry it is like standing at the bottom of a very tall building. I can see the first and second floor in pretty good detail. By the tenth floor is starts to get a little fuzzy but I can still see it. Larry is on the fifty-first floor, and I can’t see jack from down here. Just to further the analogy, the reason you take the stairs in any building is because it’s too hard to jump that high. Think of sempai as flights of stairs, they help you reach the next level. Without Bojo here, it will be a pretty steep climb. My opportunity to listen to him and to take advantage of his knowledge and his ability to “bridge the gap” on a regular basis is coming to a close for a while.
I find myself saying: “I wish I had listened better.”
(Originally published in Muzosa Journal 3/24/06. Author retains all copyrights.)
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