By: Kim Kitsutoshi Stahl, 3rd Degree Black Belt, Chapel Hill Quest Center
When I talk with newer students at the Chapel Hill Quest Center, I'm sometimes asked for suggestions on how they can make the most of their training. Good students are always looking for practices they can do regularly to learn their material, retain it, get the most out of it, and to achieve their personal training goals.
I like to structure my training. Specifically, I always have a set of goals I'm working on. They vary, and I review them about twice a year to make sure my goals are still appropriate, add new ones, or make any needed changes.
To achieve my goals, I have a longstanding practice that organizes my training. I take one regular weekly private lesson focused on my fundamental Taijutsu skills and curriculum. (I may take others from different expert instructors to learn specific weapons or skills, but I have one regular lesson scheduled that happens rain-or-shine). That weekly time gives me an instructor watching my progress, addressing specific issues, providing continuity and consistency, and keeping me focused on the fundamentals and on my curriculum to ensure that I'm making progress.
Having my bases covered in a private lesson lets me use class time to experiment, to try techniques with as many different partners as possible, to see what works and how it works, and to get a lot of feedback through trial and error. I don't have to worry about getting the class teacher's attention because I can always save my questions for my lesson at the end of the week. Class time becomes my workshop or lab because my "class" is my private lesson time. Sometimes it also works out the other way; I'll learn something in class that I really want more focused attention on. So I'll use that lesson to get a deeper understanding of the class material.
I always appreciate hearing about training practices that work for other students and instructors. This is one that has worked for me since I started training, and I can't recommend it highly enough.