The student wasn’t getting the correct foot position for side kick, so I tried to explain what he needed to do. First, I tried to tell him: heel up, toes down. Then I watched him for any signs of improvements as he kicked. (As students typically cannot get it completely right immediately, I watch for signs of improvement.) As there was no noticeable difference to his foot position, I showed him how his foot should look. Sometimes that works, but not this time; again, no noticeable change occurred.
So I had him give me his foot, which I slowly turned until it was in the correct position. As I did, I noticed that his hips were turning. On a sudden impulse, I focused on that fact rather than on his foot.
“See how your hips are turning when I turn your foot?” Slowly, I turned his foot, and his hips rotated. I carefully moved it back and forth, so he could fully experience the rotation. “Can you feel that?”
When he nodded, I returned the foot to the correct position. “Your hips are what allows you to get your heel up into the right position. Right here is where you need your hips to be for this kick.”
Then I set his foot back down and prepared to watch for any small improvement in his kick, to see if he understood.
Small improvement? Nope! HE NAILED IT! Repeatedly.
That little moment made my entire night. Joy bubbled through me, and I resisted the urge to bounce up and down. No no no, I have to be the serious adult! Dignity! Calm! I have them, I promise! 😀
Not all my days include such success – not even most! But these moments are what makes it all worthwhile. (And I will learn from these successes so that I can increase them!)