The Teacher Becomes the Student…or…

One of my favorite experiences so far (there have been many, but too little time for internet) was my participating in a karate class at KGBV.  Two days ago, the girls’ regular karate teacher, Rupa Kumari, returned from her break.  She speaks no English, and I speak very little Hindi at this point, but through sign language and single words we communicated that she would teach the next karate class.  So, alongside the girls I had been teaching for the last 10 days, I punched, blocked, kicked, stretched, jumped, and push-upped.  Some moves I sat out for; they use a Hapkido-style of knifehand block and backstance in their drills and kata, for example, that I just couldn’t get the hang of so worked on my own off to the side so as not to distract class.   They also did some axe kicks that I passed on.  But other than that, I was reminded to retract my mawashi-gaeri, just like at the dojo, so that kind of made me feel right at home.  At the end of class, Rupa requested that I do a kata.  Oy.  I haven’t done a kata since Heian Godan almost two weeks ago in the village!  I decided to go with Kanku Dai, and, again, I did it competition style.  And so concluded class.  But it was only then that I realized the learning that had gone on.

The girls (embarassingly) mobbed me, each one wanting to tell me immediately what they thought about my karate.  They mimicked some of my moves and imitated the distinctive Shotokan breathing.  They were also able to communicate that they envied my focus during the kata and in class.  It was a great feeling to know that I was a good example for these girls; kind of like how I was inspired when I first started karate and looked to Alisa Ao, Cheryl Murphy, Shannon Ishi, and Eimi Kurite.  So, very cool, a great experience for me.

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