My Favorite Student

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Favorite Student

While perusing one of the popular Jiu-jitsu forums the other day, I came across a thread asking the question, "Who is your favorite student?".  After pondering that question for a moment, I began composing a response.  I have copied my post below.  If you would like to see the original forum thread, you can view it here.

"My best student isn't anyone in particular....I'm not naming names. In fact, it's not necessarily any one person, more of a hypothetical. Anyone in my gym has the potential to be my best student, and from time to time is... here's who they are:

My best student is the guy (or girl), who comes to class consistently, not necessarily every class, but as often as they are able to, at least a couple times/week. They show up to class on time (or even early) with their (clean) gi & all of their equipment.

They go through the warm-ups and give their best effort on every movement & technique. During class, they pay attention to the instruction & drill what is taught as much as possible during the allotted time. They don't add to, or try to change what was taught by the instructor, but will be a good partner, (not trying to resist or defeat their partner's technique, but not trying to be a dead fish either), and will give their training partners good feedback. They will train to the best of their abilities with anyone in the gym. If they are a higher level then their partner, they will help them along the way to the best of their abilities. They ask relevant questions at appropriate times. They are always working on something. When the instructor asks, "are there any questions?", they are the first to raise their hand.

During sparring, they will have a goal in mind, understanding what they are trying to work on, and will give themselves the opportunities to practice their weak areas, as well as their strengths. They are not rolling to "win", rather to learn & improve and to help their partners improve as well. They understand that it is their job to make their partners better and, in turn, their partners will make them better. They will leave their ego at the door, tap when necessary, always keeping themselves and their partners safe from injury. They pay attention to the other students around them and watch their spacing. They understand how to flow and how to set an appropriate pace and intensity level based upon their partner, the length of the round, and the goal of their particular training session.

They are typically the first on the mat and the last to leave. They greet everyone who comes on the mat, and are the first to extend their hand to make a new student feel welcomed. They support their school, their instructor, and their team. They help out around the academy, doing their best to make it a safe, clean environment. They are not afraid to pick up a mop at the end of class and help to clean the mats. They hold themselves and their teammates accountable. This means picking up the phone, sending an email, or a text to that student they haven't seen in a while & encouraging those who need it to get back on the mat.

If they compete, they respect all of their opponents, but they have confidence in their own abilities. They step out on the mat to win. They have victories & defeats, but they always carry themselves & represent their academy with class & character, and thank their opponent for the opportunity. They are humble in victory, gracious in defeat, and they try to learn from their mistakes. They put both wins & losses into the proper context & don't hold on to either very long.

They are always a student first, and are committed to their own learning & advancement. They keep an open mind, and are open to learn from anyone. They place trust in their instructor, but also take responsibility for their own learning. They put in their time outside of class, reading, watching competition & instructional video, studying and analyzing positions, drilling, getting in extra reps before or after training. When possible, they attend seminars. Although they set goals for themselves, they don't worry about when their next stripe or belt promotion will come. They just show up & train. They have good days & bad days, but regardless they just keep coming back & getting on the mat.They understand and appreciate the history of the art & where it came from, and they respect their roots and those who came before them. They are proud of & appreciate their lineage. One day they may become instructors themselves, and they will strive to make their students better than they were.

As an instructor, this is my "best" student. As a student this is who I strive to be."

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