Practice is over. I am looking forward to the evening shower in order to wash off all the strain of the day, and while i am taking my shirt off, three violet marks, perfectly parallel amongst each other, peep out at the level of my clavicle. I admit that the first reaction is actually of pride for that “guilty” athlete who has marked me that way; very precise i must say (not even half centimeter between the marks). Then, like i always do, i start thinking.
My brother has a similar job to mine, he is a volleyball trainer, and i am pretty sure that when he comes home in the evening, he doesn’t have to explain ambigous marks on his body to his girlfriend. Now, considering that i am a sport trainer as well, i ask myself if those three marks could possibly have an added value. And, probably in a moment of omnipotence, i tell myself that, at least in part, those three marks are precisely what makes the difference between being a teacher and being a trainer.
After all, for those who have been around fencing platforms, it is quite clear that a teacher is not simply an instructor of that sport. However, the most important question is: why? The most obvious answer is that it’s the athletes themselves who give us the role of “teacher”. Then, why do they look at us differently from how they would look at swimming instructors or an instructor of whatever other sport? I believe the answer can be found on the piste.
Indeed, it is precisely on that thin metal strip that the teacher/athlete relationship starts and keeps growing. A relationship made of shared sweat for example: at the end of the class, once we take off the mask, the strain and the sweat face are a shared experience of both people. The athlete perceives the teacher’s strain as much as he perceives his own.
A relationship also made of a persistent physical contact, through pressure and beats on the blades, which become an extension of the body. A constant dialogue through which we learn to know each other. Yet a relationship also based on the idea of making ourselves beaten, putting one’s body at the service of the other. The teacher lets himself be beaten by the athlete, without fear. He lets down his guard just for the sake of his athlete, in a world which, quite often, teaches us to do the opposite.
And i am strongly convinced that all these, very often, underestimated attitudes, are actually much more fascinating and more capable of solidifying a relationship, than those big talks about trust and respect.
And then i feel that those three marks onto my clavicle are the best signature on my teaching diploma.