I’ve had a lot of questions recently about starting a dojo. For me it is pretty straightforward… I have had a lifetime of positivity from training and this is my time to give something back. So I won’t go over that ground again. However, I do have a habit of setting myself high standards… always have and I pride myself in trying to hold myself accountable to those standards.
Not only does this span martial arts but also pretty much everything I do. It has stupid consequences also tho. Actually some which are quite funny and are probably more about being a bit stuck in my ways than anything else. Like coffee. I have heaps of cups in the house, from all over the place, presents from Chile (thanks Sensei Linda) and other far flung places, but there is only one type of cup that I will drink coffee from. Ridiculous. I’ll even go and find the cup that I want rather than use another.
Then there is the stuff that gets me in trouble, like the way in which I believe people should behave. Over the years I’ve realised that I can have a very low threshold for bullshit. I can hide it most of the time and give the impression that I am pretty cool with a situation but then there are times when my mask fails. Like ‘mansplaining’. I’ve had two separate occasions in the last week where someone has decided to explain something to me in a rather condescending fashion. Both of those happened to be men… hence the ‘man’ bit of the ‘splaining’. So a number of things kick in at this stage for me, first there is the indignancy of the situation, I mean if I don’t know something, I am more than happy to ask, but if someone decides to be condescending to me, well then, it’s like a curtain comes down and a very direct and ‘to the point’ Ciara comes out. Like the person who tried to explain ‘systems engineering’ to me last week. Well lets just say our meeting became rather stilted.
I’m equally as binary when it comes to discrimination, which is probably a good thing, but man… it does get me into even more strife. So maybe 20 years ago in Japan at a gasshuku… a Turkish guy (he had a flag on his gi) turned to face me, took one look and went and found a big other man to face. The other person was a brown belt (I was a blackbelt) and I was having none of it. I walked up to him asked him why he had gone and faced someone one else… sods law… he didn’t speak a word of English. That was day 1 of the gasshuku. By day 3 I had been pulled out a few times to demonstrate with the various Senseis and my Turkish friend had managed to learn English in the same time. Day 4 and when we lined up I was once again behind him and he decided to turn and face me, and half bow… after training together for 2 hours, he turned to me and thanked me for training with him. We had a great time! He was fast and sharp and I enjoyed every minute of the training.
I really have a problem with people who go to the gym to gas. A few years ago I was working near Marble Arch. I was a member of the Virgin Active Gym there and I arrived one Friday to do a bag session and some other bits and pieces. Part of my warm down was a slow 5km and I found a treadmill beside some women who were incredible. Like properly incredible…they were clearly causing some interest from the men in the gym…resplendent in their tiny crop tops and even tinyier shorts as they walked slowly on their respective treadmills. I arrived to start my 5km after an hour of bag work and to be honest I looked like something from Kiss… I was dripping… and as I was getting going, all I heard from beside me was… [insert French] “Why would you come to the gym to end up looking like that?”. My answer, delivered in French, is really not repeatable.
The above might appear to be a series of rants, but honestly they are not, well almost not, it’s more that I have some sort of built in reaction to certain situations and some are more amusing over others. As a competitor, I was ridiculously hard on myself. Each competition was either a success or a failure and both needed studying. I was not a good loser, but I was a worse winner as I always needed to understand the links that led to the win/loss and what I could do to repeat/avoid said situation.
The other thing is that I always want to develop myself and I do feel that in some situations I should work on improving myself. But then there is the point where I feel that I just can’t be arsed. My in-built personal standards, well, so far they haven’t been too bad. Sure, I’m pretty hard on myself at times… and especially around my professional standards… but that, I hope, makes me better at my job, even if it does make me somewhat stressed at times…
So in my dojo, I will set high standards for both my own teaching and for the students that join me and in my professional life, I will continue to try and do my best. 🙂
In any case