So, sometimes, I miss “the good ol’ days.” Or at least, I think I do.
The way I grew up in martial arts is a bit different than how it is presented today. My first training hall had three adornments: The South Korean Flag, The US Flag, and a giant sign that said, “House of Discipline.” My instructor spoke better Korean than he did English, and he used to carry around a pail with gravel. Master Park would punch and spear the gravel to toughen up his hands. He could also do a lot of push ups on his index fingers (no joke).
We trained on a cement floor that was covered with pretty disgusting, thin carpet. The only pads we used were on our hands and feet, and we were encouraged to wear a cup. We didn’t ask questions of our Master, and we didn’t laugh in class or we got smacked or kicked out. It was great.
My best friend at the time was a bit of a trouble maker, except during those classes. Well, sometimes he tried to get me to laugh so he could see me get punished, but he only succeeded once. It was amazing how he could turn on and off his behaviors before, during and after class.
At tournaments, we got trophies or medals for First, Second or Third. Everyone else got the experience of losing. Our tests for our next belt levels were two or three hours of non-stop work. Everyone tested in front of our Grandmaster. If you messed up during the test, you went home.
There are times when my nostalgia affects what I do. Humans have pretty bad memories, even though we think otherwise. While we usually get the general idea of past events fairly accurately, we forget much of the nuance. If I think my students are not listening to me as I would like them to, I tell myself that if I could pound on them a little, or smack them with a broom handle in the shins (yay! good ol’ days!), they would come around.
Which they would, for a short while. Probably right before their parents took them out of my school and sued me.
Things have changed in the last several decades. We found out how dangerous smoking is. We realized wearing seat belts is a good idea. We reaffirmed that Rock ‘N’ Roll never dies!
We are discovering how our brains respond to pain, fear, and threats. The thing is, our brains tend to learn better, and retain and use information more readily when we are calm and in a good state of mind. When our neural pathways are free and clear of the clutter of fear, anger, hunger, regret, we tend to learn more quickly and retain it. (We also tend to store abuse and neglect, but that is a different posting)
It feels “good” to say to others that I trained on a cement floor, that we didn’t wear pads, and that our Masters took it to us. However, I am certain that it was not as harsh as I remember, or I wouldn’t have stayed. Except for the floor–that carpet-covered cement was nasty.
I am having a bit of difficulty finding a clean ending to this post. I get that this is one thin slice of one issue, and there is a lot more to it. Maybe I will write more about it.