Monday, November 21, 2016


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 As taiko players, we know we have to listen to our rhythms to stay with the group, listen to the balance of front row vs. back row, listen to the quality of our strikes, etc.  But are we listening when people are teaching?

At my karate dojo, we have a student that is very eager to reply with affirmatives when he is given corrections.  He then likes to show us how he does it and explain why he is doing it differently.  But in doing so, in putting so much energy into replying, he is not listening.  And by not listening, he's not learning.  He's a bit of an extreme case of not listening, but this sort of thing happens everywhere, not just in a dojo or in taiko.

Next time you're in a group of people being given a lesson of some sort, if you can, look at the body language of the other people.  Are some of them just waiting to speak, to reply, to give their opinion (agreeing or contrary?) then they're not listening.  They're focusing their energy outward instead of receiving and taking IN information.

The thing is, I do it, you do it, we all do it.  Sometimes there are good reasons to do it.  But it should be intentional and not a default mindset.  Eventually you start missing out on valuable information when you're just waiting your turn to speak instead of taking it in, and eventually the people teaching you might give up on trying, since you're always keen on replying.  Some may even find it disrespectful, especially in an hierarchical pedagogy, like some traditional Asian arts (sempai-kohei styles).

Try recognizing when you feel the need to speak up and how long you hold on to that energy.  If it's three seconds, not a huge deal, but if you're waiting for a minute?  How much are you really able to absorb when your energy is set to project instead of receive?  Is is preventing you from getting better?  Is it creating a perception of you in others that isn't favorable?

Yes, I realize there's irony from one who writes so much to talk about listening.  I had to work at being a better listener myself, and I'm really glad I did just that.

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