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Had a strange occurrence at Taekwondo tonight.  One I’m still trying to wrap my head around – was I doing something wrong, or was the person taking offence without good reason?  And if I’m in the wrong, how do I rectify it?

The situation – we have a new female Blue Tag in class.  Although when I say ‘new,’ I mean someone who had to go on a very extended break and has only just come back.  Naturally since we’re the same belt and gender, the teacher put as together.  While going through the kicks and sequences, I noticed she wasn’t always doing it correctly or forgetting things.  Certain little things I didn’t bring up (she seemed more comfortable holding the pad in the wrong hand, or being in the wrong stance for pad work, things like that), but when she seemed to be having trouble with the number of kicks we needed to do I’d suggest swapping the legs midway through so to give the other a rest.  She said she knew that and she wasn’t an idiot.  A little strong, but I was a little nauseous that day so perhaps she’d been doing that and I hadn’t noticed.

Another exercise we do is when one person holds a kick shield and moves backwards and forwards, forcing the other to kick in rhythm.  I had done so and it was my turn to kick, but she wasn’t moving, just waiting for me to kick.  So I reminded her she had to move first so I could keep to her timing.  She replied angrily and said she already knew that.

It came to a head in the final exercise where we were stretching legs.  She puts her legs on my knees and pushes while pulling on my belt to stretch my legs out as much as they can.  But she had her knees flat on the ground, even when the teacher reminded everyone to bend their knees and to continually shuffle their feet forward.  She just wriggled her legs and naturally, since they were flat on the ground, didn’t move them or push my legs back.  So I asked her to bend her knees – at which point she told me she didn’t enjoy being constantly chided and it was actually taking the enjoyment of class away from her, and if we were going to be partners in class could I please stop.  I said okay…and as such my legs didn’t really get stretched.

I really don’t know how to play this.  Maybe she was just self conscious after being away for so long, maybe she didn’t like being told what to do from someone who was the same belt…or maybe I was being overly snippy without realising.

Now, I admit, I can be a blunt person, and I’m awful when it comes to reading how a person’s reacting, but I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.  I did nothing that I haven’t done to other partners, and in turn haven’t heard from previous partners.  Sometimes I get things wrong, or I know the theory, I just can’t put it into practice.  I don’t care if the person is higher, same or lower belt than me, if they think I’m doing something wrong and give me some tips on how to do it right, I’m happy for the advice.  I do the same for my partners, and it’s a mutually fulfilling team up.  At the end of the day, it means we both get the best work out and a good class.

In 3 years of going to class and partnering with everyone possible, this is the first time somebody’s actually complained about getting critique.  On top of which, my enjoyment of class is diminished because I’m not getting the full work out I want if my partner isn’t performing the exercise correctly.

Ideally, if it became a problem, I’d just make a point not to partner up with her.  But I wasn’t even her original partner this time round – the teacher put us together because we were physically and grade compatible.  Most likely we’ll be put together continually.

So, should I keep my mouth shut and live with it if she’s doing something incorrectly?  Do I speak up and run the risk of having her complain to the teacher that I’m ruining classes for her?  Or is there a middle ground where we can both get what we want out of class?

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