The school bell rang and I stood at the doorway waiting to great my students. I was determined to make a good and strong yet compassionate first impression to my new charges.
As the classroom door opened, I saw the hesitation on each students face, a mixture of fear and anticipation for what lie ahead in their first After School Program Martial Arts class. I greeted each one with a smile and an extended hand. I wanted to see how open they were and if they knew how to greet properly.
I had planned to teach them, by end of class, a first and most important lesson – how to shake hands.
Of course first on the agenda was taking attendance. I taught them how to answer when their name was called: “Hai” which in Japanese means “yes” and then moved onto the basic rules of what I expected of them during class.
I explained how they would walk out of this and every session a different person than when they walked in. They would be more flexible, stronger, more knowledgable and respectful. Next was basic vocbalulary. The class room we were using would transform into a “Karate Dojo”, a place to learn the way of Karate. I would be called Sensei, meaning “one who has gone before”… or teacher, and MY word would be final. In the next class they would be taking off their shoes, put any jewelry into their socks and place their socks in their shoes, neatly lined up in the designated spot.
My assistant then handed out paperwork they needed to fill out and I then proceeded to teach them the opening and closing breathing ritual finalized by the soft gong of a Tibetan Singing Meditation Bowl.
As my new Karateka, meaning “students of Karate”, exited the Dojo, I could sense relief wash over them and the slightest bit of confidence seep into their hearts.
I knew this was going to be a worthwhile endeavor for them and me.