Class Notes 6/01/2010

The new year brought some changes to LMA.  Last year we introduced uniforms for the school, graciously designed and made for us by one of our students, Rachel.  I’ve posted about this before, so I won’t say anymore about it now except that after several months working with them, they still rock.

The changes were a little more drastic.  Well, drastic may be a strong word.  Sweeping, perhaps.  We felt that with the influx of new students we’ve been getting, and to curb some of the goofing off during class we should add a little discipline to the class with some etiquette and conduct guidelines.  We didn’t want to go all Asian-style, and we didn’t want to alienate our current student base, so it was an agonising decision, and one we didn’t take lightly.  In the end, it was decided that for the sake of class flow and safety (among other things) that it should be done.

So – what did we do?  Salutes.  Before and after each class, in a group.  Nothing new here, really.  Many groups do it, and we did sometimes, but now it’s mandatory.  This helps the students’ mindset go from ok, I’m loafing to ok, I’m training and back again.

Salutes.  Before and after each exercise and/or partner switch.  Followed by a handshake to prevent or soothe ruffled feathers that somtimes happen when you take a shot a little harder than you thought you should.

Salutes.  By the instructors to one another when giving demos.  Set the example.

The salute is simple.  Raise the weapon to eye level, lower the eyes for a moment, then assume whatever position is expected of you.  When unarmed, simply clasp your hands together and raise them to your eyes.  Those are your weapons.  It’s amazing what this simple thing did for class structure and respect.

Forming up in rank.  When instruction is being given, students form up in a “V” formation, ranking students on the right down to newest novices.  Everybody gets a clear view of demos or the instructors, and everybody is within earshot.  Worked amazingly well.  On receiving instruction, students or groups should respond with a resounding and clear “Yes.”  There was much dilly-dallying and halfheartedness or silence in the past.  Just doing this seems to psychologically uplift the class and inspire them.

Transitions.  Transition between exercises or partners swiftly.  No more foot dragging.  Strangely enough, it seems to uplift the class rather than tire them out.

Address.  Address the instructors as “sir” or “Mr. xx.”  Somebody has to be the boss.  I was afraid this would be weird at first, but it was well received and everybody was on board.

All in all, the changes are positive in a way I didn’t expect.  I expected some weirdness, and there was none.  The changes were well received, and in the end, we got more done.  I feel good about these changes, and what’s best is it gives it a more martial and professional flavour without going all Asian (not that that is bad in any way, it just isn’t the heritage we are trying to recreate).

Happy New Year!