Thursday, 3 March 2011

A private lesson experience

I've been a little distracted this week with sorting out my computer virus problems (see: Computer Virus Frustrations!). This has now been sorted out but it has made me a little late posting on this blog this week!

Despite a few wasted hours fixing my computer I have still been following my training program, though not as frequently as I would have liked. I suppose the real highlight of the last fortnight was having a private karate lesson with my instructor. I've never had a private lesson before but my instructor offered it to me for free as a thank you for helping him with the junior class over the last 18 months.

I found the private lesson both exciting and scary. Exciting because it was an opportunity to specifically work on things I needed or wanted to work on and receive lots of individualised feedback and advice but scary because all the attention was on me and all my negative points were exposed and dissected in detail. However, this is the nature of martial arts training - one improves more quickly if negative points are highlighted and corrected early so I was very grateful for the feedback.

My instructor filmed me performing my punching and kicking combinations and also my kata. Seeing yourself on film is a revelation and not necessarily a pleasant one! My punching combinations didn't look too bad but I thought my kicking combinations were pretty awful on the whole. My back kick is too low, my front kick doesn't snap back enough, my roundhouse kick is off-line and my side kick lacks power. I can work on all this though, at home, and it WILL get better. Seeing yourself look bad at something really motivates you to want to get better at it. The other negative thing about seeing myself on film is that my gi makes me look enormous, especially around the hips - these things really aren't designed to flatter!

My kata performances are a work in progress. My Bassai Dai performance has strong points and weak points. I hadn't realised until this lesson that I had actually misinterpreted some of the moves and was doing them incorrectly. These errors have now been pointed out,  so I can work on them in my own time. In fact I've been working on them quite hard since the lesson and I reckon that if I was filmed again you would already see some improvement in my performance.

The lesson focused entirely on basics - punches, kicks, stances and kata. These are things every karate-ka needs to work on constantly so it was very valuable to work on this in a private lesson. The hour flew by and left me feeling pretty tired, both mentally and physically. I would definitely recommend a private lesson, particularly if you have certain issues that you need to work on. 

Have you ever had a private martial arts lesson? Did you enjoy it or find it too intense? 


  1. I've been lucky enough to have had many private lessons with my Sensei. You are right, it is an interesting experience. Nothing like the one on one with a master to point out your shortcomings, or the areas you need to improve on. It's good to be dissected from time to time. I imagine it also keeps the old ego in check too.

    I find when I have the chance for a one on one lesson, I now get to explore the areas I'm struggling with. The benefits are often tangibly evident when normal class resumes. Private lessons allow me to really dig into my art and ask certain challenging questions I might not ask in front of my Sensei's other students. I can question the relevance or the effectiveness of a particular technique without worrying about choosing my words in front of other students.

    Kudos to you for watching a video of yourself. The first time I did the same, I was surprised to see the awkward form bouncing around on hte television. I mean, he looked nothing like me. Apparently the me in my mind doesn't resemble the me on the tape!

  2. If you will allow me, do not forget to "see" the things you do well in such video's. They are the other side of the yang-yin principle; balance it out with both.

    In this particular case since black belt is just around the corner it is expected you would "look" to those aspects you want to improve by test time so good for you but remember the other side too!

  3. Journeyman, the video experience is definitely a reality check! The 'me' in my mind is much better than the 'me' on the video - except, of course, she isn't! Like you say - it keeps the ego in check.

    Charles, you are quite right to point it out. Everyone has strong points as well as weak points and we need to be aware of this as well. I think most of my strong points lie in the partner work i.e ippons, goshin waza, pad work etc which we didn't do in this lesson. It was a lesson that focused very much on the areas that I'm weakest on but I didn't come away feeling completely negative - I'm pretty sure I can improve on these things with practice.


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