Imagine stepping on the dojo training floor feeling excited and a little nervous. You may be wearing a gi for the first time and it feels awkward or unusual. How do you tie the belt? Is there a right way and a wrong way? There are other students in the class wearing belts of various colors. The black belts are standing together in a group. Class is about to start and the instructor asks the students to line up according to rank. You are in the back of the room and at the end of the line.
Do you remember your first impression? Were you overwhelmed by the vast amount of information presented in the class? I wondered if I would ever get the hang of things. My arms and legs did not cooperate with what my brain asked them to do. My legs ached from the nai hanchi stance. I was so grateful when an instructor pulled me aside to work individually on basics and the first kata. Class ended and we lined up again and bowed to the instructor.
As an instructor, I find it valuable to remember my first class when there are new white belt students in the dojo. During the first few weeks teaching a new white belt, I am careful not to overwhelm the students. There is a delicate balance between too much information and not enough. A new white belt student in class provides an excellent opportunity for the dojo community. The instructors must start teaching from the beginning. The kyu rank students help and encourage their new classmate. The black belt students assist in class and develop a deeper understanding of their own material.