This weekend my students did something that greatly inspired me.
Due to a scheduling mishap, we did not have our regular gym space rented. One of my black belts was ill and the other was caring for him. I was going to be on the road for my own training, so it seemed like everything had come together for one inescapable conclusion. I sent out the email and updated the website: No class tomorrow.
My own road trip began at 3 am, my regular start time to make it to church and then train in Isanti, Minnesota. I swung by Bemidji to pick up my black belt candidate, Mr. Hartshorn, who got special permission to join in on one of Master Frankovich’s black belt classes. Instead, Mr. Hartshorn passed up the training opportunity so that he could be there to help support one of our white belts who needed a ride to work.
Folks, if there is one thing that I have noticed about Midwest Haidong Gumdo, it is the community Master Frankovich has led us in building, and even though I haven’t been to every school in the region, I have seen it in every one I have attended. Masters Koivisto and Oz match this ethos admirably, and they’re the other masters I spend the most time around. We’re the folks who play nice together, even though there are some ten other martial arts that we study for our other styles (Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Muay Thai, Tang Soo Do, etc.). We try to be there for each other. I have seen students hold parties to help others move, or to celebrate birthdays, etc. Early Sunday morning my student became my teacher, reminding me what it looks like to be part of a team, and how we make our schools a family.
Before I finished my road trip I was informed that it didn’t matter whether we had gym time reserved or not. Mr. Hartshorn and Mr. Robinson were going to have class on their own if they had to, because they needed the practice time and they were dedicated to moving forward in their art.
So I juggled some schedule items, and decided that if my students were going to be there for each other, I had better be sure to be there for them. We had started without a gym when we formed Northwind Martial Arts, and we could have class again.
It was a small-ish class the end, but it was awesome. The whole gamut of ranks showed up from chodan to white belt. Class started a little before sundown in true anime style, with leaves blowing past as we stepped into stance and ran through the basics. The class made it through a tough workout. As the sun set and darkness gathered I had a chance to get everyone a little further down their paths. Mr. Robinson showed great dedication hammering away at the 10-step attack combination for the first time. Mr. Hartshorn worked so hard at kibon donchak he joined the bucket list (the list of students who have needed to use one), then showed that sometimes victory is the courage to get back up again after you get knocked down. He got a ton of work done on ssangsu gyukgums 1-8, and is on track for the review schedule we put down for his black belt test. Mrs. Malbraaten helped teach everyone when I wasn’t working with them, and then she nailed the 30-step attack drill. By the time class ended it was full dark. A towering wall of thunderstorms had not yet reached town, but lit the class like God’s own strobe light.
I drove home a very happy master. My students had taught me a couple valuable reminders, and hopefully I had a chance to return the favor. It may be nicer, more comfortable, and brighter to train in Calvary’s excellent gym, but classes like these are the ones we take with us along our journey.