Teaching Beginners . . .

A wonderful time in class this afternoon. Taught a beginner’s class. I had almost forgotten the joy of taking the uninitiated and educating them in the way of the warrior from the very beginning. It is a joy watching them grow and progress as they strive to understand the intricacies of the art that I teach.

In my old age I had pretty much given up on teaching the classical arts. Actually the system I teach is eclectic and is derived from several classical arts. Even so the system I teach is classic in application. It has the in your face no nonsense approach of John Keehan’s Black Dragon system, the Christian philosophies of the Black Lotus concepts and the softness of the kung fu and aikijitsu systems I’ve studied.

Over the last several years my efforts have been divided between teaching or fine tuning the skills of the advanced student and teaching individuals in high risk professions. On the one hand I was teaching students who already have a good grasp of the arts they study, and on the other hand I was teaching a very abbreviated and specific hand full of skills.

In a sense it led me into a a kind of complacency. Teaching beginners, on the other hand, makes me pay attention to basics. Over more than sixty five years of training and teaching my approach to the arts had become almost esoteric in nature. I had been doing what I did for so long that I had transcended techniques. I didn’t do martial arts. I had pretty much gotten to the place where they did themselves.

Teaching beginners have brought me around full circle. It’s easy teaching advanced students. You only have to show them a technique or explain a concept a few times. Beginners make you get off your lazy butt and work. You have to really teach. With beginners everything they learn will come directly from you.

I’m getting a bit old for what I’m doing, but I’ll do it for as long as I can. It requires a lot more energy than the classes I’ve been teaching. Very hands on and keeps me engaged. I’m like the energizer bunny on steroids during class. I can go on for hours. Afterwards I can barely move. I’m absolutely whipped. Tired to the core. Man I love being a turt…, I mean a sensei. The hanshi, soke and grandmaster titles to the contrary, it’s all I ever wanted to be. I’m too tired to move but I’m one happy camper.

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Donald Miskel
Donald Miskel started his training in 1959 at the Jiu Jitsu Institute in Chicago and trained with several well known and respected martial arts instructors in a number of disciplines. He has attained black belt ranking in six different martial art disciplines. Sensei Miskel taught at several locations in and around the Chicago area for many years. His focus was self defense instruction for civilians and specialized, individual, training for law enforcement personnel and security officers. He worked in several areas of law enforcement, mental health and personal security as well as performing Pastoral duties at several churches and ministries for a number of years. e helped to create the Black Lotus Combative System and he founded the Dante Ryu Gojute Kenpo karate/ Ju jitsu fighting system. Dr. Miskel is an original member of the Black Dragon Fighting Society.