A recent blog post by my online friend reminded me of something I forgot to write about quite some time ago. Last summer my husband and I were invited to try out square dancing lessons. We could do three free lessons, then decide if it was right for us. The lessons fit into my Karate schedule, so this was perfect. My husband and I had thoroughly enjoyed a semester of ballroom and country dancing back in our college days.
Our first square dancing class was not ideal. It takes eight to make a square. There were eight people present, and four were new students. The caller was an hour late, so we spent half the class without music. That was OK, by then we were up to speed on a few basic calls, so when music was added we had fun.
As a martial artist I found it fascinating to be moving cooperatively with a group of people. I had to continually curb instincts to take advantage of opportunities to throw, joint lock, or strike. I do have some experience with sparring against two people simultaneously and kata could, if one uses one’s imagination, be a fight against a group of attackers. Square dance was very different, that’s for sure!
We decided to give the group another chance and went back for a second free class. This time, the caller was on time, but we didn’t have enough dancers to make a square. Only two experienced students showed. The start of class was delayed in hopes more would show up. I practiced a lot of kata while we waited. When the caller gave up and started class, we limped along as best we could with what we’d already learned.
I have no idea why my husband and I went back for the third lesson. The first lesson we wrote of as a fluke. The second lesson we figured people had stayed home to watch the football game. We decided to use our last free lesson. This was it – make it or break it. Once again we had a dismal turnout with not enough folks to make a square, and only one experienced student. We quit – the high price tag was not worth it.
It was obvious the senior students were not interested in the success of the beginners. This is a club that has been around for years and boasts a membership of about thirty people. I’m betting it’s pretty much the same group that started the club in the first place.
Did you catch that, fellow martial artists? The more advanced dancers simply weren’t invested in the future of the club. New students weren’t valued. We left after only three lessons even though we probably would’ve enjoyed square dancing immensely. Please teach your senior students the value of coming alongside to help someone who is just starting – even if it’s just to be a partner in a drill or to run through a form before class.