Yesterday, I held a brown belt test for two students at my dojo. One of them had been training with me pretty much since I first started teaching in the Vancouver area, just over 7 years. The other had started less than 2 years ago, having come to the dojo already holding a black belt, with 9 years of training in another style of Japanese Jiu-jitsu having studied on the east coast. I am happy to announce that both students passed, but there is so much more to it than their test results.
After the test, the student who had trained with me since the beginning presented me a gift he made himself, which you can see in the photo below. When he presented it to me, he gave a short speech. It was along these lines: “When I first started training it was to learn self-defense, but I gained so much more. Training with you gave me the confidence to go after my dreams.” One of his dreams was to work in law enforcement and now he works as a BC sheriff, as represented in the gift he made, which I’ll be hanging prominently at the entrance to our mat area. I couldn’t help but tear up at this meaningful gesture.
The other student already had a pre-established passion for the martial arts, thanks to his training experiences with his instructor in Nova Scotia, Ray McKinnon Sensei. He faces challenges in keeping two different sets of curriculum straight in his head, but has always put in an honest effort to learn and embrace the different nuances, while continuing to keep his previous training alive, even sharing it with our dojo. He first moved to Vancouver 2 years ago, knowing very few people in the area, but he is now a friend to many of us at the dojo and his presence is very much appreciated.
Both these students now enter a new stage of development having earned their brown belts. They now will enjoy the privilege of being apprentice instructors of the art of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu. They intimately know the ways their training has helped themselves in their lives. They will now start to help other students on their own paths, helping them to discover what the martial arts means to them. They will get to teach and learn through the experiences of the students who receive their instruction. They will serve as examples of the possibilities of how dedicated training can affects one’s life. From my own experiences, my development as a martial artist and person increased exponentially once I became a teacher, and has continued to do so over the past 17 years. I am exceedingly grateful to have played a role in bringing two students to this level and look forward to seeing them embrace their new roles. 🙂 (*Yes, I photobombed the pic below.)
In what ways has teaching the martial arts enriched your life? Please share your experiences in the comments. 🙂