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We Teach what we Need to Learn

Over the years, KC’s in Buffalo and Orchard Park have offered a great range of classes. Boxing for exercise, Competitive Boxing, Submission Grappling, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Tai Chi, Aikido, Brazilan Ju Jujitsu, Kung Fu, Wing Chung, Olympic Lifting and Kettlebell classes were all embraced and gave our community more than just self defense, fitness, and earned skills. The classes allowed folks to connect with one another in a supportive environment where people were invested in more than just their individual selves.  One instructor leading a class of twenty five people can’t teach everyone, and that is why we have endeavored to have our members constantly improve one another. In this gym, we teach what we need to learn and we teach it over and over until we learn it. This idea implies that the process of learning and teaching should never cease. Folks have to be willing to give input, and good souls have to be open to receiving it. Receiving input requires an investment in listening, patience, and giving up your ego.  Giving input requires a little courage and a generous spirit. Often, people working in pairs don’t want to seem bothersome by reminding their partner that they keep making the same mistake, but my Irish mother taught me that you can usually say anything you want as long as you wrap it in the right package. I loved her for sharing that wisdom, but also noticed that she seldom wrapped anything in the right package when making observations about my weight.

The desire to teach what we needed to learn was instilled in me thirty five years ago by an amazing martial arts instructor from Central America.  She pulled me aside during paired practice and questioned why I was not teaching my partner to fix a technique in the movement. She knew that I could see the mistake, and saw me speak to it only once, but not endeavor to truly help my partner. I told her that I didn’t want to be a pain by constantly giving input, and that they would figure it out eventually. I never forgot the look on her face. It was a mix of sadness, surprise, and perturbation. “So, you’re just going to let them practice the wrong way and the constant repetition of wrong movements will eventually lead them to perfect execution? Kevin, you never struck me as a person who was unwilling to invest in another person’s growth!” Ouch! She then moved me to another partner and paired my person up with another advanced student. As the class moved ahead, I noticed that my replacement was making better progress with my former partner. I was embarrassed, and learned a valuable lesson that day, and it informed the rest of my journey in the study of boxing, combatives and martial arts till this day. Participation in any martial art, boxing, mma, or sport requires an investment. The latter means that you care about someone else and not just yourself.  The constant investment in each other does not stay in the gym and goes beyond the walls of this place. How do I know this? Well, because so many great people have shared that the gym made them better people, and it was not just enhanced fitness or self defense. One of our Golden Glove Boxers did his masters thesis at SUNY Buffalo in the philosophy of KC’s. Later, he received his doctorate in sociology, but his study of boxing and what he learned in this community was life changing for him, and it has been for thousands of other good souls.

Teaching what you need to learn has the capacity to change not just yourself but the world. That’s the beauty of this small but amazing gym. The immense problems that besiege the planet and our society seem just too overwhelming. Social media and the internet has fueled our profound disconnection in society and most people in gyms are consumed by their solitary pursuit of fitness while plugged into their headsets.  In most big box gyms, you will see a mass of humanity sweating away on cardio machines, people looking in the mirrors more than they necessary, and folks sitting on exericise equipment while reading their phones. So many people will be together and almost all will be alone. In our gym, you’re certainly working to improve yourself, but it happens in concert with other good people who are invested in your growth.  There are no mirrors and certainly no one is on a phone. The gym is quite primitive in that we are cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Other than about twenty heavy bags, medicine balls and dozens of kettlebells, there is not much equipment. What there is a tremendous amount of, however, are people working hard and learning new things. The best thing is that you’re not alone and we can do no great things alone, and this is one of the best things about the KC’s community.   It’s been that way for over thirty years.

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