The Mind Of The Beginner
By Ken Tallack
The open mind of the beginner is a unique thing. Beginners will commonly
accept almost any approach the instructor chooses for thier first lesson.
The mind is open to receiving information, and even the most skeptical
will forever use this first lesson as a referance point -- "What
is Martial Arts?'
Do you remember your first lesson? Do you remember your third, fourth,
For most people the first lesson leaves an indelible mark still present
for years to come, whereas the next dozen or so may blur together in the
memory. You only get one chance to make that first impression.
Allow the students to observe and draw their own conclusions. Encourage
your more advanced members to introduce themselves and discuss the activity
Bumps and bruises are part of this learning, and this fact shouldn't
be hidden from someone checking it out. Neither should it be stressed,
just accepted as part of the learning process.
Today many people are so concerned with safety and being politically
correct that they forget how much value may be gained from hard contact
between experienced students. Let the new person know they will not be
injured and that the contact waits for the right level of training.
Let your senior members tell the new student what is coming in their
training and to have faith that the value will be obvious to them.
The open mind of beginners will accept many things, and the conclusions
they draw will often be based on their perceptions of the people and surroundings
rather than on the course content.
Allow the students to observe and draw their own conclusions. Hide nothing,
benefits and challenges alike.
Realize that the activity is not for everyone, and don't be discouraged
if trial students take the free uniform and walk. The ones who stay will
make it worthwhile.
About the author:
Ken Tallack is the Canadian Representative of the Dai Nippon Butokukai,
International Division and holds the grade of Shichi-dan, Kyoshi from
this group. Introducing Goju-Ryu Meibukan to Canada in the 1980s, he continues
to teach and practice classical Budo in Kingston, Ontario, Canada