Part Two: Your First Month
Showing up to take your first karate class can be a very nerve wracking experience, for both kids and adults. It’s understandable. You are entering a new world, most likely nothing you’ve ever experienced before. You have bare feet, and are wearing this baggy uniform/robe looking thing. You have to go through all of these traditional rituals like bowing before entering the classroom. You get lined up to begin class, and because you are the new guy or girl, you stand at the end of the line because everyone holds a higher rank than you. But, before you bow in to start your first class, it’s important to remember that every one of those students ahead of you in line has been the one at the end before you came along. They do understand what you are feeling, because they, too, felt it on their first day.
Once you bow in, it’s time to get started learning karate. Karate is not a natural thing. You are going to move your body in ways you have never moved them before. You are going to be using muscles that you hardly use in your everyday life. I often have students, who come back for their second class, express to me that they can’t believe how sore their body is, despite the fact that they hardly broke a sweat. It doesn’t take a lot to work out muscles that never get used, but over time, your body starts to become acclimated to the movements, and those rarely used muscles begin to strengthen.
Your first month is going to be filled with a lot of repetition of basic techniques, but don’t lose interest. In my opinion, the first month is the most important. The basics that you will be learning are the foundation for everything else that you will be learning throughout the rest of your karate journey. A black belt is not a black belt because they can do a back flip kick. A black belt is a black belt because they can do their basics to a very high standard. Yeah, you are going to learn some pretty cool advanced kicks along the way, but at its core, success as a Martial Artist begins with strong basic skills. It is said that it takes one month of repeated action to develop a habit, and that is exactly what you are trying to do in your first month in karate. Create good habits early, so you don’t have to fix bad habits later.
The last piece of advice I have for new students is to ask questions. Don’t ever feel embarrassed to ask questions about things you don’t know. Remember what I said earlier? Everyone was in your position at one point. The more you know and understand about what you are doing, the better you can execute the techniques. Just simply asking “Why?” can produce an answer to help you get better. Also, never hesitate to ask for assistance with something you don’t understand, or even ask for clarification to make sure you are doing it right. I love teaching, but more than that, I love teaching those who want to learn. So, come to class with questions, and let me help you be better than you were yesterday!
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