Last night one of my students began training with the cane. This in of its self is not such a big deal, but the quickness in which he was able to pick up some of the foundational movements was surprising.
All students have strengths and weaknesses and he is no different from the rest of us. Over the past year I have seen him struggle with movements that I see as simplistic and excel at techniques that might cause more experienced students to struggle. We are all individuals and last night reproved the point.
We were working on a cross strike (back hand) as the first striking technique for him to learn. This technique some might consider to be more advanced but I like to start with it because it causes the student to utilize their center and tie the hip rotation to the whipping action of the wrist. Yes it is a bit more complex than just flicking the tip up for a groin shot, but its purpose is to make the student focus on how to move the body to get the cane to strike where you want. Not just swing your arm and leave the rest of your body still and suffering from rigormortis.
In explaining the strike and the nuances of the center rotation and its subsequent full body motion he politely watched me demonstrate the technique full speed and slowly. After I had done the demonstration he took his cane and did several of the striking techniques. They were near 90% correct but his comment is what caught me off guard. “It is just like a back hand in racket ball”.
I responded that it is probably very close to the racket ball technique but not sure because I always stank as a racket ball player. My comment to him was to go over to the bag and play with the strike. I came back a few minutes later and he was beating the stuffing out of the bag with his racket ball swing. We talked a bit about what I was looking for and compared notes on the similarities and differences of swinging a racket as to the cane.
The encounter last night reinforces my belief that a good instructor needs to try and find knowledge centers that a student might already have and be able to talk about those knowledge centers for teaching martial arts skills. I have a couple of stock examples I use but racket ball was not one I had considered.