I visited a karate class recently. It was a good class, the students trained hard, the instructors focused in on some crucial elements of the arts, and it seemed all involved gained something from the class. When class was dismissed, practically all the students jumped up and rushed home, or off to some other pressing engagement. This kind of disturbed me.
I remember attending class on 35th Street. Class may have ended at 8 pm, but the students and instructors would often linger around until perhaps MIDNIGHT!! It was during this time, after class, when some of the key elements of martial arts understandings were revealed, and the invaluable experiences of the black belts were shared. I believe some of my most important lessons were learned after class. If nothing else, a lifelong bond was created with other members of the Authentic Karate Club, some of these relationships are even stronger than my own cohesive family relationships.
After class, we may have had some techniques clarified or improved. Sometimes we just listened to Baba Hankins explain how he learned. There were shared descriptions of fights and altercations, or memories of some tournament battles which were discussed and analyzed in detail. Occasionally, we would get together and go to a movie, or a meal, or to another school to train some more. There were even times when other martial artists would swing by and some impromptu sessions would evolve. It was amazing what happened AFTER class. It was incredible the things we learned AFTER class.
I don’t know how you can grasp all that martial arts have to offer you if you don’t pursue it to its fullest and not just view it as something to do. It is a way of life--or at least that is what it once was. Those who I have witnessed to excel in these warrior ways, sought more from their teachers and seniors than the average student. They implored those who taught them to give them more. This way, they gained so much more than knowing how to throw a punch or block a kick, they learned how to apply their lessons to every aspect of their lives and how to benefit from this way they chose to travel.
You can’t get it by just going to class. You also need to get it after class and even before class. It certainly was worth it to me.