Finding a coach that speaks your language.

The period of time after a marathon and before you begin training again is a virtual no-man’s land. You may be running, but you’re not training. The differences are subtle, mostly mental.

Although nothing has been written into my new 2014 calendar, I have been contemplating next year’s running goals – what should I do differently, what needs more work, what will make me better? I let these questions and what I believe to be the answers percolate in my head before committing them to a training plan. The process tends to extend beyond running – into Kung Fu.

When I began Kung Fu a few years ago, there were 5 or 6 other new students in the class. We learned everything together. Through attrition, it has mostly become a classroom of black belts…..and me. Although these Fo Jiao Si (Black Sash classmates) watch out for me, it has been increasingly difficult to learn, memorize and practice all the new concepts….. alone.

Some nights I literally stand in the corner by myself practicing a form that may have little real world usefulness, while the black belts are learning something new together. I am torn between memorizing form after form alone in class and the desire to learn how to really defend myself and fight in a real world situation.

Finally, I have switched to a Kung Fu Wing Chun class.

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The name Wing Chun means “Eternal or Beautiful Spring”, implying freshness, creativity, innovation or modern. Although a traditional or classical system, the original idea was to have constant development and innovation keeping the system up to date and effective in the modern world.

How individuals learn is a fascinating topic. Courses are devoted to the subject, careers revolve around it. Yet, when it is you, the one that needs to do the learning, the rest of the world may as well be on its own. It is your situation that demands the attention.

The best advice I received as a Corporate Instructor came from my boss the week before my first class. He said, “It’s not the student’s job to learn, it’s your job to teach.” Sure, the student has responsibilities but it is the teacher who has the knowledge to be transferred to the student. If you simply throw that knowledge out there to see what sticks, you’re not really teaching.

Awhile back I contemplated hiring a running coach and researched the qualities of a successful coach. The research that stuck with me was from a high school track coach. He said, the runners who never reach their full potential are the runners whose coach did not believe in them. In other words, you could only be as successful as your coach believed you could be.

imageDuring the first Wing Chun class, Sifu told me fighting is a language…and he was going to teach me this language. He adapts the training to how I learn and he tells me he knows I will learn this. The confidence he has in his ability to teach transfers to a confidence I feel toward learning. This has been important to me.

After months of long slow runs, it’s exciting to do speed work at the track. After a few years of working in a start-up, you may be ready for another big corporate job. A change of pace is sometimes just what we need to re-energize and keep from feeling stale in running, learning, Kung Fu, maybe life.

The translation of Kung Fu is time and effort. There are no short cuts. The foundation of Wing Chun is to always move forward and aim for the center.

A common language in life as it turns out.

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