Monday, 8 August 2011

Geoff Thompson’s Masterclass- August 2011

Yesterday I took my first steps on what I hope will be an enlightening and empowering journey. I finally had my first experience of Geoff Thompson’s Masterclass, not just from an observer’s point of view, but as a student.

I had been putting that day off for a while now, coming up with a hundred excuses why I couldn’t do it; it will be full of men and I’ll be the only woman, I might get injured, I might make myself look bad (after all, I’m a black belt, right?), it’s expensive, I don’t have the time… blah, blah, blah.

Then, just over a month ago, something just clicked and on impulse I signed up. I had one of those days when you just think, what the hell, just do it!

People have different reasons for signing up for the Masterclass. Part of my reason was that Kai had done it twice and I saw the change in him straight away. After each class he would be more positive, more reflective and more pro-active about the direction in which his life was going. I wanted some of that for me. I was becoming fed up with disempowering, negative thoughts taking over my brain and the feeling that nothing I was doing was quite good enough somehow, despite my very best efforts.

I had been to watch the Masterclass twice and had done a seminar with Geoff and Peter Consterdine in 2010. I also did a 6 week self defence course with Geoff’s son, Louis, earlier this year, so I had met Geoff a few times.  He had been nothing but lovely and just a few hours after I had hastily written my email and pressed send (before I change my mind again), he rang to confirm my place on the course. He told me not to worry, that everyone would look after me and he congratulated me on signing up. I felt like I’d already done something to be proud of in that moment.

On the way to Coventry I tried not to think of much at all, to be honest, and I succeeded pretty well. I wasn’t nervous until we actually arrived at the AT7 centre and then the nerves kicked in. Even though the people we met up with in the cafĂ© had all done the Masterclass before, everyone else seemed to be really nervous too and it became one of the topics of conversation. It helped to know that I wasn’t the only one. Everyone kind of agreed that it was because you put yourself under pressure to be on your “best game”. I had recently had the experience where my “best game” hadn’t been as good as it could have/should have been, so this was my biggest worry. What if I made myself look stupid? Or weak?  Or out my depth?

We didn’t have long to wait until we were shown into the room where the Masterclass is held. Everyone just milled about a bit (looking a bit nervous still) and we saw a few more people we knew. I was pleased to see Joy and Louise, who I knew from previous Masterclasses I’d watched, but there were also 2 other ladies there. That made 5 of us (6 including Sharon); more than I was expecting.

The first hour or so was really inspiring. Geoff talked about the 100,000 technique challenge he wanted everyone to do over the 6 months. The idea behind the challenge is to achieve mastery over one technique and then take what you have learnt from the process and apply that to other areas of your life. He spoke about obstacles we might put in our own way that might prevent us from completing the challenge. I really felt like he was talking to me when he spoke about limiting thoughts that become self-fulfilling prophecies. I think everyone probably takes something slightly different from Geoff’s talks, as you tend to apply what he is saying to your own situation, but that was what really stood out for me.

Geoff introduced a guy who had come over from New Zealand to train on the Masterclass; the furthest anyone has ever travelled to attend and that was pretty amazing. It made me realise how well-respected Geoff’s teachings are, not just in this country, but all over the world. It was pretty scary as well, as here I was, putting myself in a room with a world-respected teacher, self defence expert and martial artist. What was I thinking?

We then broke off with a partner and worked on using the fence to control an aggressive situation. I had done this before, but for some reason I was shockingly bad; so self-conscious and worried about getting it wrong. I did feel more at ease after a bit though and strangely, when we started doing some posturing and I had to act more aggressively, I started to lose my nerves. It’s amazing what a bit of swearing and arm-waving can do!

I was glad when we moved on to the punching though. It was really good to see Sharon demonstrating this as well as Geoff, as I’d only ever seen the men do it. I punch all the time in my martial arts training, but this is a different kind of punching; this is knockout stuff. I was pleased that my punching was pretty strong, although I know I need to work on bringing more energy up from within on the exhale if it’s going to get better still.

In the session we also covered chokes and strangles, which was brilliant. I’ve never been able to get these on very well, but I learnt lots of little things from Dean, who I was partnered with and from the instructors, so that I could do them with some confidence by the end.

So, am I glad that I did sign up for the Masterclass? You bet! I have already made a start on my 100,000 technique challenge this morning. I have taken the skin off my knuckles and my right arm and shoulder are definitely feeling like they’ve had a good workout, but I am going to carry on. I am trying to ignore all the what ifs and buts that my mind keeps bringing up every now and again. I can’t wait til next month!

Sarah Wilson x