Turns out he holds up on the mat, too. And on the street. But you don't look at an instructor to see if he is any good. You look at the students. And even with the students, technical skill isn't really the best indicator, either (I've seen too many instructors whose 'display' students were trained by other people or had a talent despite the instructor rather than because of). I look at the attitude.
Lise was my first real exposure to Kasey, and it was wonderful. She played. She wasn't afraid to pick a play fight with her instructor, even in public. As a relatively small lady, she would roll with the biggest guys she could find. It was all fun.
I noticed that with Jason and Bill's students as well. They were serious, but they didn't take things seriously. No one, including the instructors, was the least bit afraid of looking silly. No one sat on the sidelines with arms crossed. Every last one, even the very new or very ill, played.
Dinner with Wes Tasker, Mike and Lisa last night. I love talking to all of them, but Wes is special. Things I have only dabbled in he has studied. In a lot of ways it is like talking to Marc MacYoung- we share similar insights and experiences but view them from different enough perspectives that the synthesis is incredible. Except Wes tends to expand my philosophical and moral sensibilities instead of my thug awareness.
He's helped me, immensely, to narrow and define what I am actually doing, and I'll be thinking about it for a while. (Wes was able to draw out that my dissatisfaction with martial arts is almost entirely based on the disconnect between the stated goals and the teaching methodologies.)
Kids learn fast because they are having fun. If you play with something, you come to own it. From the first time that a baby realizes it can move the blurry thing (which is the baby's own hand) everything is about increasing ability to control the world...and it is fun. Moving is fun. Knocking over things and making a Big Noise is fun (spanking from mommy afterwards, Not Fun. Note to toddler self: find a compromise.)
Increasing your power in the world sounds like some kind of Machiavellian plot, but it is really simple and natural. Victims are victims because they have no power. Choosing how we will live and gathering the resources to do so is increasing our power. Gathering the strength to stand up for our beliefs is increasing our power (and, unfortunately, so is forcing them on others... unless they develop power of their own.)
It is a very adult thing to work now for things you will have later. You may have to search for the element of play in that, but it is there.
Knowledge is power. Understanding is more power. Understanding comes from experimenting and questioning and wandering in the unmapped territory, and those are all aspects of play.
This post has wandered, so here's a rule of thumb:
If you are training, anything you do should either work or it should be fun. If it's not fun and it doesn't work, why are you there? And, because things that work increase our power and gaining control over the world has been fun since the first time we moved our own hands on purpose, things that work are fun.
Play. You will learn faster.
Rory's first rule of not burning out in a high-risk job:
"You can take yourself seriously or you can take the job seriously. Never both at the same time."