M is sixteen years old, been training with me for a couple of years. Did other martial arts before that. Like all sixteen-year olds, he is growing by leaps and bounds, both physically and skillfully.
We're clinching, and he throws me, cleanly. I don't give it to him, and I don't make it easy. He just nails it.
I come back up, come back to the clinch harder and faster. He freezes...deer in headlights, locked body, pushing away danger...I get my own throw easy. We talk briefly, and I realize that he thinks I'm angry.
I give him a realization, and get one of my own.
For him: I remind him that he is allowed to become better than me. Not only that, he SHOULD become better than me. If I can always beat him, I am a poor teacher. I believe this, not just for him, but for all of my students.
I will write again, I believe it so much.
Every single one of my students should be able to beat me some day.
Yes, I came back into the clinch harder and faster. Why? Because (partly, this gets into my own revelation), M showed me that he could handle the level I was working at. I wasn't playing to my full ability. When he showed me he could beat the level I was playing at, I made the level harder.
Some day, I won't be able to make things hard enough for him. That will be cool.
Here's the self-realization.
Part of me was angry. Because I'm a monkey, and the monkey in me doesn't like being shown up by this kid who is clearly supposed to be further down on the hierarchy than I am. It was a flash in the pan kind of anger, because I know better, but the monkey still popped in there.
That's the part I didn't explain, and should have. It'll probably come up in the next lesson.