February 2016 Distilled

distillation-mdAn online acquaintance challenged me and others to look for and document the new things we learned from each class during the month of February 2016.  We were to write about our personal “takeaways” from every class we attended – whether it be a new technique, finally getting a handle on something, or even something more nebulous like a new appreciation for a classmate’s talents.  Not just takeaways, but something that distinguished that class from all the other time we’ve ever spent on the mats.  This was a very time consuming exercise for me because I love narrative.  I’m sure it was also time consuming for my online audience ( +James Bullard and +Jackie Bradbury ) to have to read all that!  I am very grateful for their support.

Because I trained 25 out of 29 days I wrote quite a bit.  This is a good thing because now I have plenty of material for this blog.  So I was thinking about how I can edit down this narrative journal into four to six blog posts.  Further thought led me to an interesting exercise.  “Distill” the material.  I created a very simple spreadsheet and read through February’s journal.  As I went along and after I finished reading I created labels for the themes I saw.

Here’s how 25 learning opportunities (classes, seminars, and tournament) broke down…

My personal process of learning: 11 lessons

Relationships between me and other karateka: 7 lessons

Attitude: 6 lessons

Teaching other students: 5 lessons

Oops, that’s 29 lessons and I only trained 25 out of 29 days (leap year).  I can explain the bad math – it’s not due to multiple concussions!  I allowed myself leeway for the tournament weekend, which included a good bit of physical labor all three days, four hours of seminars on Saturday and the tournament itself.  Special events like this really do give one a boost.

So by the numbers, February 2016’s biggest lesson was about my own learning process.  I am on my own timetable – I might learn some things faster than others or slower than others.  But that’s OK as long as I’m making progress.  I saw how I was stretched and pushed and shaped by my instructors.  I recorded triumphs over old weaknesses and discoveries of new strengths.  And yes, new weaknesses cropped up.  I started trusting more and more that I have the capacity to grow in skill and knowledge.  I’m also grateful for the guidance along the way.

When I first started this challenge I had no idea that February would be such a pivotal month for me.  I am very glad I have these lessons and events recorded.  To summarize:  I’m moving better, I’m now Sempai to College Dojo, and Home Dojo Sensei started an advanced class.  Quite a month for me!  I’ll share more in future posts, grouping journal entries together by theme and sub-theme to show my progress in a particular aspect of Karate over the course of a month.

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

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