Three Kinds of Students

There are three kinds of students: the superior student, the average student, and the inferior student. The superior student has admirable qualities. He trusts his instructors implicitly and follows whatever instructions are given him without complaint or debate. He understands that his instructors were once students, too.

He understands that his instructors only have his welfare in mind when they teach him. The superior student is pliable, honest, sincere, respectful, and has a zest to learn. He understands that mastery in the martial arts, or in any endeavor, does not happen over night. He knows that it often takes a long time to achieve proficiency and, understanding that, he is more than willing to make that noble commitment.

The superior student practices diligently at home and looks forward with joy to each and every class. Further, he learns from the mistakes committed by others and avoids perpetrating those same mistakes himself. When he does make a mistake, he understands that it is a natural part of the learning process and does not become sullen or angry when receiving correction. The superior student is worthy of both respect and admiration of his instructors.

The average student is one who likes the idea of learning but lacks the drive necessary to carry him all the way through the rigorous process. At times, he grows angry and questions both authority and motive. If it is raining or snowing, he may not show up for class. He practices at home only when the mood strikes him and that is not very often. He sees the mistakes of others but, more often than not, learns nothing from those mistakes. Only when he makes those mistakes himself does he learn.

The inferior student, oddly enough does not even know why he is studying a martial art in the first place. Maybe it was choice between joining a bowling league or spending his night “playing” at the martial arts. Maybe he happened to see a martial arts movie one night and was so taken by the ease the hero or heroine used their martial skills to defeat an enemy that he ran right out the next day and enrolled in a school, thinking he could achieve that same level of mastery within a few weeks of training.

His attendance in class is faltering, at best. When he does manage to show up for class, the inferior student is only half there and his training is only half-hearted. He questions both the instructor’s manners and motives. For instance, if the instructor is teaching him the precepts of the art, he cannot believe that the instructor himself actually practices those precepts. In fact he cannot believe that anyone, anywhere, at any time, does actually practice such noble principles.

Why does he believe this? Because he, himself believes only in the myriad things in life that bind him eternally to worldliness and misery. He understands nothing of life, nothing of the world, and bases all of his opinions on the illusions he has created in his mind. To him, his instructor is nothing more than someone he hired to entertain him a few hours a night. This self centered, egotistical attitude leads him to believe, falsely, that the instructor he “hired” should be eternally indebted to him for his patronage.

The inferior student attends class only when there is nothing he decides is more worth his while to choose from at the moment. In class, he is unmotivated to learn, and is more interested in socializing with the other students than he is applying himself to practice. Inferior students are to be avoided by serious instructors.

These, then, are the three types of students. A person should always endeavor to become a superior student, especially if he really wants to learn anything well. Regardless of what course one is taking; whether it is a martial art, a college course, or a tennis lesson - one must always strive to be a superior student. It is the noble thing to do.

© Richard Behrens