Years ago–around 2000, I think–I took a coach­ing course at the urg­ing of my judo sen­sei, Sil­vio. He actu­al­ly team-taught the course with a mem­ber of the Phys Ed fac­ul­ty at the Uni­ver­si­ty. We’ll call her Nancy.

The course I took was Lev­el I The­o­ry, which should have been fol­lowed by Lev­el I Tech­ni­cal and Lev­el I Prac­ti­cal, which would have seen me cer­ti­fied as a Lev­el I coach. But things being what they are, that nev­er hap­pened. We lob­bied a few times to have some­one come out to Bran­don to do the Tech and Prac­ti­cal ses­sions, since there were a num­ber of us that were in the same boat, but some­times it feels like if you live out­side of Win­nipeg, you might as well live on the Moon. It’s a two-hour dri­ve on divid­ed high­way, but for some rea­son it’s hard to get a lot of peo­ple to dri­ve beyond the Perimeter.


In the inter­im, the The­o­ry com­po­nent was over­hauled, and now Lev­el I and II The­o­ry are named Intro to Com­pe­ti­tion A and B. There was suf­fi­cient change in the cur­ricu­lum to war­rant re-tak­ing A, and so I did that in Octo­ber. I learned a fair amount, and it was a good course. The man­u­al is excel­lent, as well.

A cou­ple week­ends ago I took Intro B, and picked up a great deal more. There are a lot of things that Sil­vio used to do (sad­ly, he’s since passed on) that are sud­den­ly made clear to me. For instance–and this is only one exam­ple of many–when he would teach a new tech­nique, he would always explain it aloud, start to fin­ish, then demon­strate it, and final­ly have each of us try it a few times. (Then he’d hit us with the “Good! Now do it ten thou­sand more times and you’ll have it per­fect!” Which was usu­al­ly pret­ty close to accu­rate; the throws that I’ve done ten thou­sand times come more from reflex than from con­scious thought now.) The rea­son for this, I learned, is that there are, broad­ly speak­ing, three kinds of learn­ers: audi­to­ry learn­ers, who learn best from hav­ing some­thing explained; visu­al learn­ers, who learn from see­ing some­thing demon­strat­ed; and tac­tile learn­ers, who learn from doing some­thing. Every­one’s kind of a com­bi­na­tion of the three, but every­one also has a dom­i­nant style. Appar­ent­ly mine is audi­to­ry. But Sil­vio’s method of teach­ing a new tech­nique catered to all three types, and did so in a nat­ur­al progression.

Some­thing else I learned from Intro B was that if you’re doing a hand­stand, you should­n’t tuck your chin, or it turns into a kind of a flail­ing som­er­sault. Onto con­crete. But I was fine, thanks for asking.