Have you ever experience frustration to the point of anger? I have and recently during red belt class. In our dojo, every month we learn new material. It was Ganseki Nage month. Early on I had received varying instructions from different people on how to do the move correctly. It was confusing. Each instructor and student had their own method of executing the technique. This is normal and even encouraged. Every person moves differently. Part of the journey at the dojo is to learn how to work with your body effectively. However, modifying a technique comes later. You have to understand the strategy of a technique before tweaking it. I was still in the early stages of learning the movement. At the end of the month comes testing. Which version of Ganseki Nage was correct?
Frustration accumulated quietly. It simmered beneath the surface until one class it exploded. I was working with two senior students. Over the course of a half hour, I became more and more frustrated as they picked apart how I was moving. It wasn’t the correction that was overly frustrating. It was the contradicting instructions. For example, “You need to move smoothly in one motion.” followed by, “Step forward, pause, then sweep.” I tried to drop hints to get them to back off saying, “That’s good. I just need to practice now.” That didn’t work. My frustration continued to build.
The breaking point came followed by anger in the form of tears. I hate crying in the dojo. Tears have made my eyes glisten red more often than I would like to recall. Usually, it is unexpected pain that brings on the waterworks. This time, however, it was different. Anger fueled the tears. An instructor saw what was happening and stepped in. I excused myself to the restroom, splashed water on my face and tried to calm down quickly. A few minutes later I returned to finish out the class.
That evening I went home with emotions still bubbling. Later as I lay in bed, I realized the problem wasn’t the nitpicking of my movement or the conflicting information. The instructors and senior students want me to succeed. They have my best interest at heart. The problem was me. I responded in a negative way to the situation. It reminded me of my goal. Controlling how I respond to the world around me is the first step. That day I didn’t exercise good control over my emotions. Instead of getting frustrated to the point of anger, I could have practiced greater patience, talked with my instructor or simply excuse myself from the situation. The choice was mine. The idea that we as individuals have a choice in how we react is powerful. True power comes from within. What are ways you have handled frustrating situations?
One final note, when in doubt about a technique always talk to the one with authority; the one who is testing you.
Thank you for reading.
J. R. Lowe