This morning I woke up with a smile on my face, thinking about some of the awesome people I worked with this year. (If you recognize yourself in any of the following descriptions – Hi! Thanks for letting me be a part of your self defense journey.)
- A young mom with a houseful of little ones, who had a hard time getting away for the weekend. She felt slightly guilty for spending her weekend on the range, and for leaving her husband in charge of the toddler herd. But she also knew she was doing the right thing, because she wanted to be prepared to protect her children if danger ever threatened. Sometimes it’s hard for people to make the “selfish” decision to invest in learning a skill they hope they’ll never need, even though having the skill means they will more likely be able to save the lives of people they love. I love that she made such a big investment in learning how to protect herself and her family.
- An older gentleman, a very smart man at the top of his professsional field, learning something new for the first time. He moved slowly, deliberately, carefully. You know that old adage about “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? It’s not true. Sometimes older people feel like they’re “stupid” for not absorbing things as fast as they did when they were younger, but that’s not what’s going on. Your brain becomes optimized for different things as you age. Younger people absorb information much more quickly than older ones do, but older people find it easier to make logical connections and are better at solving complex problems. That means older students often need more time to learn new things than younger ones do, while younger ones often need more thorough explanations to help them make connections between teaching points. Working with this man was a joy and privilege, because he was so determined to learn and so determined to get it right. I loved his intent commitment to tackling something new.
- A woman struggling with the aftermath of a scary criminal event. I know she didn’t feel brave, but that’s exactly what she was. Like other crime survivors, this woman may have felt fearful, overwhelmed, or frightened – but courage isn’t the same thing as feeling no fear. Courage is deciding that something else is more important than fear. It’s feeling afraid, but going forward anyway. Instead of curling up in the corner and licking her emotional and physical wounds, this woman made the courageous decision to heal and to learn how to protect herself from similar events in the future. I loved her bravery.
- An older woman with a gimpy ankle. I think she may have been worried when she first arrived – as so many students are, wondering if they belong in the class, if they’ll be able to keep up, if they’ll be safe, if they’ve made a big mistake even thinking about doing this stuff, if the physical demands will be too much for them, if this and if that and on and on. Because of her long term injury, she may have been more worried than most. But I never heard her complain, not even once. She cheerfully tried every activity, and graciously allowed me to hand her a chair to sit down when she needed it. Whenever someone approaching or inside the retirement years comes to class (which is often), I am always impressed and inspired, and even moreso when it’s someone with a physical challenge. I loved her upbeat attitude and cheerful commitment to learning.
- A popular online personality who had little experience shooting handguns even though he loves his rifles and shotguns. Once you’ve become known for something, it becomes very, very hard to set aside your ego – embarrassment, really – and let people know you don’t already know everything about that field. You have to respect that kind of courage! I loved his open mind and how eagerly he dived in to learn more.
- A woman with a hearing challenge, who contacted me for a private lesson. She was smart, safe, enthusiastic – and very determined to learn what she needed to learn even though she couldn’t tackle a group class. I loved her creative determination to find a way to learn what she wanted to learn.
- A woman who took my class twice – once to watch, once to shoot. She needed to sit out the shooting portion first time around because of some medical issues, but gave her full attention to the class anyway, going through the motions with a dummy gun whenever possible. I loved her flexible approach to learning, absorbing what she could when she could.
Truthfully, every student I’ve taught has also taught me something, and blessed me by being there. In some ways, every person who comes to class has a story, and some of those stories are heartbreakers. But far more of them are stories of triumph and even joy. I can’t begin to express how privileged I feel when someone decides to face their fears, overcome the challenges and practical obstacles, and let me be part of their self defense learning.