End of the line in the back row. The person who knows the least about Karate. The one who had to sweep the dojo floor before class. The person most likely to not understand something or to mess something up or slow everyone down. Many people probably think being the lowest ranked in Karate class is the pits. Nope. I always love it when I am the lowest ranked in class.
Don’t get me wrong. Being Sempai to College Dojo is great. I’m gaining skill in leading and teaching. The youngsters look to me for help when Sensei is busy with someone else before or after class. I play a significant role in the opening and closing ceremonies. Everyone lines up based on where I’m standing. Who wouldn’t love this?
Here’s the thing – I need to develop my own Karate. Sure I can do this even when I’m doing kihon along with the newbies, but often I need to be a newbie myself. I need to learn new techniques and deepen my understanding of movements I’ve already learned. This is easier when the class is geared towards the higher ranks.
If I get a bit lost or don’t catch on to something as quickly as the others, It’s OK because I am, after all, the lowest ranked in class. And you know what? I’ve noticed that even when I’m the lowest ranked in class, I’m not the only one who occasionally messes something up or doesn’t quite understand something.
So instead of moping or feeling self-conscious about being on the low end of the totem pole, I bubble up with joy. I strive to perform as well as and even out-perform my higher-ranked classmates, but I don’t feel pressure to be better than anyone else. I relax more and I feel free to be exactly who and what I am. I enjoy the challenge of keeping up with the rest of the class.