What is your mindset regarding others when you are training? Are you the type of person that is primarily there for yourself, and see other people as simply tools to help you improve, or perhaps even as hindrances to your training? Do you believe that you can only learn from those who are more experienced than you? Do you find yourself feeling annoyed when you have to help a person who is far below your level, or when you are taught by someone who you don’t believe is good enough to teach you?
There have been times in class where I felt like the person who was teaching me would have rather been doing something else. I understand that their mind might have just been elsewhere, but it still made me feel like they thought I was a waste of their time, as if I was not worthy of their knowledge. I have seen people look bothered when they have to work with the lowest students, and it seems as if they don’t think they should have to. This kind of attitude has no place in martial arts. Every student in the school is worthy of your time and effort, and should be treated as such. The same goes for every person who is taking their time to try to help you improve, whether you think that their teaching is adequate or not. You should understand that sometimes you are actually helping them learn how to teach.
Shihan often says that we all have something to learn from each other. Maybe if you are a natural athlete who easily picks up on things, you can learn about patience and struggle by teaching someone who doesn’t learn as quickly as you do. Perhaps if you are usually fast and aggressive, you can learn how to slow down and show control by helping someone who is unable to move at your speed. You might be someone who thinks you have a strong grasp of a technique, but you realize you don’t know it as well as you thought you did when you are questioned by someone who doesn’t understand it at all.
Martial artists should always have a give and take attitude. If you are only concerned with yourself, you will not go very far. You are not any more special than any other student there. Every one of us has a right to train at whatever level we may be at, and to be respected for that. We all have different things to share with each other, but you cannot receive them if you are not open to them, and you cannot share yours only with the people you want to. Someone took their time and energy to give knowledge to you, in hopes that someday you would do the same. They gave you a gift, and now it’s your turn to give it away…to anyone who wants it.