By Kathy Garland

On Saturdays, all belt levels in my Haidong Gumdo program show up for practice. Last Saturday, I was the total new kid on the block with many experienced people in the class. I could choose to sit back and watch or do the best I could to keep up. Of course, I stayed and kept up for the most part, but then the group went beyond the exercises and forms I knew. As I stumbled to keep up, they were patient and supportive. At one point I asked if I was the slowest ever to learn a particular move. They said, “We didn’t learn this till we were orange belts (2 levels above me.)

You see, I was trying to keep up with people three, four and five levels ahead. The good news here is that by being with people who have higher skills and proficiency than me, I learn more and faster. Part of the class for all students is to lead one of the exercises, which involves knowing the name of the exercise (in Korean) and counting to 10 (in Korean) as well as knowing the particular moves of the exercise. I didn’t expect to be asked to lead an exercise, so did my best with help from the class. However, since then, I have really stepped up my effort to learn these things. I have now mastered counting to ten in Korean. It’s a small victory, but hey, I’m counting everything!

In addition, I’ve started spending more time outside of class learning the forms, the language and the exercises. I want to move up and really I want to be less obvious that I’m such a beginner! If I hadn’t gone to that class with so many people at higher belt levels, I wouldn’t be pushing myself as much.

When you want to grow and expand your skills, thinking and success, it’s a good idea to hang out with people who are further along on their path than you. It takes a little confidence and courage on your part and you will be so glad you did.

Originally posted by Kathy Garland on her site, www.kathygarland.com.