There was something about changing clothes that made him think about changing gears. It seemed rather silly if he really thought about it, but the clothes that he wore really affected his mood. Maybe it was because he was... what did his classmates call him again, whimsical? He did not really understand it, but when he threw off his casual clothes and slipped into his karate gi, his entire body just seemed to transform.
Gone was the easy going slouch that he tended to have when he stood, instead replaced with a straight back. His steps went from a slow and easy pace to something with purpose. His eyes still scanned his surroundings, but where as before it was to see if anything caught his fancy, now it was to gauge the people around him. He needed to be careful, watch their movements carefully for any hint of trouble. Gone were the days that he was being the one watched and critiqued. Now he had the extra burden of watching others even as his own movements were watched.
His hands hands went through the well practiced motion of tying his belt. The black black was beginning to become worn down from the constant usage and the fading color as an accompaniment to his father's badgering that he should test for advancement. It was a thought for another time. If he was lucky, his father would be too busy in the office to watch the class and he could get away without the lecture.
Walking out of the changing room, he slid around a student waiting to get in, nodding at the passing greeting as the child rushed in before someone else could. A brief grin reached his face at the kids competitiveness even at something as small as changing first. Still, the mirth faded as quickly as it came when he looked up and saw the stern gaze of the master of the dojo.
His father stood like an oak the front of the dojo watching the children walk in and giving greetings to the parents dropping their children off. It was an odd duality, stern and unyielding to the students and yet personable and generous to the parents. Judai had yet to really master that level of two face. Then again, it was not like his father was incapable of being gentle. He would not be able to teach the younger students if he lacked that skill.
Still, it was up to Judai to lift the mood a bit. If he let his father hog the stage the tension in the room would be way too uncomfortable.
"Alright guys, line up while we wait for the last few stragglers." Judai called out as he started to count students. His eyes passed over familiar faces and checked for either missing faces or new ones. "We'll give them a few moments before they're late and have to do push ups!" He let his voice grow for that last bit so that the kids changing could hear him. He was rewarded with a few yelps and bangs as the kids rushed out of the changing room, one of them nearly tripping as he tried to run and tie his belt at the same time.
He chuckled and let the kid finish tying the belt. He knew his father would have punished the kid, but Judai felt that the giggling of his peers and the embarrassment the kid felt was more than enough.
"Attention!" Judai snapped out. It was slightly empowering to see all the kids snap to attention and follow him in the greeting ritual without any joking around or misbehavior.
"Alright, we've got a promotion test coming up soon so that means today we're going to be going over forms and terms." That got him a wave of groans as the kids booed him. It was something that he never really understood. He enjoyed the forms really. They were pretty easy once you got the hang of it. "Hey, hey, don't give me that. Here, I'll compromise. If you guys are good and can show me you're ready for the test, we'll see if we can't squeeze in some sparring."
That got him a roar of approval. Judai grinned as he called the students to line up and begin their warm ups. He had the kids running through the rather small dojo before leading them through the basics. Once the kids were all warmed up, he lined them up and started going through the forms one by one. Once he passed by a students rank, he split them off to practice by themselves or throwing one of the advanced students to help out the lower ranks before their own independent practice.
About halfway through the forms, his father came out of the office. Judai greeted his father and heard the students follow the greeting before stepping aside. He caught his father's eye before glancing over at the lower ranked students. His father caught the signal and nodded.
"Alright, guys. The Master is going to lead you guys through the rest. Make sure to watch closely. He's a lot better at this than me." He heard a bit of snickering from some of the younger kids, but it was mostly drowned out by the call of "Yes Sir!"
Judai chuckled before jogging over to the younger kids who had finished up their forms and were just kind of idling around. He could not blame them. There was only so many times you could practice the same form without getting bored.
"Alright guys, let's see if we can't get in some practice." The kids gathered around him, eager for something to do. Judai hummed as he let his eyes scan the room for some inspiration. The kids had already finished through their forms and he did not want to go through terms. Sparring was out with the limited room that they had. So didn't leave much. Oh well, he’d figure something out.
“I guess we can do some breaking.” Judai nodded. That seemed simple enough. There was enough room for that and it would not take too much time. Judai got them to line up as he gathered up the practice boards. The plastic boards were made to separate and reattach easily, which made them perfect for practice.
“Now remember, the key to this is proper form and to follow through.” Judai advised the students as he braced the first board. “It does not matter how strong you are as long as you hit the board correctly.”
From there on, it was a rotation of kids walking up and practice whatever technique Judai called out. It was difficult to remember which technique would be tested for each belt, but the kids were quick to correct Judai if he called out the wrong one. It seemed his dad was much better at reminding the kids what they were going to be tested on. There were a few screw ups and a kid had to sit down after he stubbed his toe after flubbing a roundhouse kick, but otherwise the practice went by alright.
“Judai.” The assistant teacher looked up and saw his father gathering all the kids to line back up.
“Oops, looks like we’re out of time.” Judai caught the clock and indeed the class was over.
“Aww.” The kids were sad that the class was over. “But we didn’t even get to spar.” One of them whined.
“Next time.” Judai ruffled the kid’s hair before pushing him towards the line up. Judai wondered over towards his own place to the side of the class.
“Everyone, sit down.” The master kneeled down onto his knees. The children followed, though some of the less flexible ones sat cross legged. “Close your eyes and recall everything you’ve practiced today.”
The class fell silent save for the students' breathes. Everyone reflecting on their practice, or simply daydreaming. Judai was never really sure if the kids got the point of meditation. He certainly didn’t at their rank.
“Open your eyes.” The silence was cut off and the class was once again lead through the farewell ritual before the students filed up to shake hands.
Judai used the commotion of the kids rushing to their parents to slip into the office in the back. The last thing he needed was for the parents to come up to him to talk. He’d leave that to his father, thank you.
Falling into his father’s chair, he let out a sigh of relief. Teaching was a pain. He almost missed the days when all he had to do was practice. Almost. The memories of his father barking order after order and the breakneck speed of some of those sessions were enough for him to prefer these days.
“Well, another day another dollar, I guess.” Judai leaned on an arm and watched his father talk with a parent with a smile on his face.
“I wonder how mad dad’ll be if I ditch the next lesson?” Judai’s smile turned mischievous as he debated leaving his father alone to teach the adult class. "To ditch or not to ditch, that is the question."
Judai stretched his arms into the air as he pondered that very question.