Between 1st and 2nd December 2018, I travelled to Glyfada, Greece, to join in with the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Hellenic (Greek) Moo Duk Kwan.

There were two main reasons why I wanted to attend this event, both related to learning: 

  1. To broaden my friendships with practitioners from around the world, because I believe that having international friends is important to learn about and further appreciate different backgrounds and cultures. 
  2. To get inspired and learn from international practitioners, which would advance my knowledge and ability in the martial art, along with generally watching first-hand some of the best world-class practitioners in action.

In this article, I explain how attending this event provided me with four great learning opportunities.  This will give you ideas about how you can approach learning and your own martial arts growth through various scenarios.

So, without further ado, here they are:

Demonstrations: be present in the moment and analyse

During the first day of the Celebrations, most countries performed a demonstration.  I watched them all: Korea, Belgium, Spain, and Greece.  It was incredible to watch the level of focus and appreciate the level of preparation that went into each one.  Through observing, I was able to pick out how certain techniques were executed and made mental notes on what I could potentially work on when I got back home.  Whilst those around me were watching, I could sense that some were not actually present in the moment and focusing.  Keep your mind away from wandering and you can learn a lot.

Seminars: don’t focus on remembering everything – aim to remember something

The seminars held by the Grandmaster, H.C. Hwang, was also incredibly useful to help me identify in practice how I can improve going forward.  Although I was not able to fully grasp (or remember) the combinations taught, I was aware enough of my own performance to alert myself to areas of improvement in my basic movements that I could remember – which are, after all, the foundations to everything else that follows.

Off-schedule learning: take the opportunities

Learning also came in other forms over both days, such as unexpected offers from Masters to teach me more about particular hyungs (combinations of movements, like kata) and techniques.  Where others offered to correct me or provide follow-on training at a later time during the Celebration period, I took it up.  I also sought opportunities for feedback, because any feedback is good feedback for growth.  That is important.  If you want to advance as a martial arts practitioner, you need to keep an open mind that learning can happen at any time and be given by any one.  Equally important is that you need to have a degree of awareness about your current skills and abilities, and the type of feedback you want to receive.  This will help you make best use of your new knowledge.  I will cover this in more detail in a future post.

People: everyone has a story that can influence how you view things

When I wasn’t learning about Soo Bahk Do, I was learning about other practitioners.  I made a great effort to talk to many attendees and find out more about them on a personal level.  It is genuinely amazing how a martial art can bring together people from all walks of life.  I admired those who worked hard and became very successful in what they do, and equally admired those who are from places of more economical challenges but have the positive and ambitious mindset to make the most of opportunities and experiences available to them.  Especially hearing some of the experiences from those of the latter made me appreciate my lifestyle and training more at home.  It is generally quite easy to slip into a view where you don’t realise that you underappreciate what you have.  I certainly feel more humble now.

That’s all for now, and hopefully some food for thought.  Next time you’re attending an event or seminar, consider applying at least one of the various learning opportunities mentioned here – along with the one about people…always. It offers value in many different ways.  Have you attended an event or seminar and identified learning opportunities not listed above?

Let’s hear your thoughts by getting in touch!

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