Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alpha Male Fairy Tale

Firstly, I apologize for wasting time and space with an entirely personal post. Go ahead and skip down if you don't want to read this one. Below is one that will actually impact your child's week at school.

Last night, after a nearly-four-hour test, I managed to earn my third degree black belt. I never meant to be a student of karate more than one summer ten years ago. And yet there I was last night, telling the board about how I am a fifth grade teacher and trying to show them everything I've learned over the past four or five years. One of my former students--Colin Kane--was in attendance on that board (it could be said that he was the one who connected me to karate in the first place) as well as my teachers and my good friend and mentor Dr. John Krege, who made a comeback appearance last night, saying, "I wouldn't miss this."

By the way, Sensei Alison Adamson and Sensei Marc Fickle are the two in the photo with me. We all earned our third degree black belts last night, and we've all known each other for about ten years now. And of course they're the two without the light shining off of their heads.

About a year and a half ago, I posted a week's worth of entries regarding the Black Belt test entitled "What I Learned About Teaching From Karate". Here is that re-post from April 2012:

The founder of my karate dojo, Shihan Doug Adamson, once asked our class as we were preparing for the black belt test and working on self-defense, "Have you ever tried to throw a feather?" As you know, when you throw a feather, no matter how hard you throw it, it doesn't cooperate. It just goes with the flow, and bends with the wind, just kind of drifting to the ground, no more shaken than when it first drifted down when it was shed. He said, "Be a feather."

What he was saying on the literal level was that when someone throws a punch or comes in to attack, you should let your body be light and flexible, bending around their punch and maneuvering yourself into a favorable position to do some damage to your attacker. To apply this to everyday life, and furthermore to teaching, I've learned to be flexible. We don't go through a day where everything goes exactly according to plan. One thing I've taught the students in my class is that everything will go so much better for them if they can learn these words: "It's all good" and "Whatever".

Of course, this is much easier said than done. We can all work on applying this to our daily lives. But I can tell you that it makes me smile any time I tell the kids apologetically that plans have been altered due to circumstances beyond our control, and I hear, "It's all good, Mr. C."

I am still trying to learn how to be a feather, but thankfully, because I've passed Shihan Adamson's words down to my students, the kids are helping me out in the process.

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