Sunday, March 24, 2013

Random Quote

“Trust those who seek the truth but doubt those who say that they have found it”         – Hannah from T.V’s Dexter

Friday, March 8, 2013

Are you ready to teach? Follow-up and 'Top-Five'

I had a bunch of great comments on my post entitled Are you ready to teach?

I’ve spent some time digesting the material and have come up with the following ‘Top-Five’ things to remember if you're considering becoming a teacher:

1.       It’s not about you
2.       Do it for the right reasons
3.       Kick ego to the door
4.       Everyone has doubts
5.       Never stop training

1.  It’s not about you

You’d think this would be obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of.  It’s about the students, without exception.  If you put the student’s needs first, you’ll rarely go wrong.  A good teacher cares about the development of their students.  You can’t let your focus shift towards your performance in that role.  Work at it, yes, practice, improve your teaching skills, but don’t let the focus of your attention shift off the students and onto your performance, at least not during class.  Students know when a teacher is truly invested in helping them learn and improve.  These are the teachers who breed loyalty and respect.

2. Do it for the right reasons

This isn’t a discussion on whether or not it’s ok to make money while teaching martial arts.  Money may be one of the considerations when deciding to teach, but it cannot be the primary motivator.  You must have a passion for your art and a genuine desire to pass down your knowledge, improve others and perpetuate your chosen art, or a variation thereof.  If you only care about making yourself money, your students will know this.  It’s not about you -see point #1.

3. Kick ego to the door

Ego has no place in a martial arts school, for student and teacher alike.  Easy to say, harder to do.  One of the comments left on the first post made me really think.  You don’t have to be the toughest person in the room.  Yes, you need considerable skill, but you don’t necessarily have to be the most talented martial artist in the place to be a good teacher.  There are incredible martial artists who are terrible teachers and there are decent martial artists who are incredible teachers.  Pure skill does not a good teacher make.  It’s a teacher’s ability to inspire and improve their student’s abilities that counts.  Again, it’s not about you.  (I see a pattern forming)

4. Everyone has doubts

Well, maybe not everyone, but it appears there isn’t an “ah-ha” moment when you are magically ready to teach.  Most people have doubts about being ready to take on that ‘official’ role of teacher.  This is ok.  It might even be preferred.  Perhaps it’s a touch of humility or perhaps it’s born from not wishing to waste anyone’s time if you’re not that good at it.  The thing is, your students will thrive if you’ve got the right stuff.  You may not be sure but they will let you know, through progress, comment and action.  We’re not always the best judge of ourselves and we can be our own worst critics.  Try to focus on the students.  If they’re doing well, progressing and having a good time, then you’re doing well.  And it’s about them, not you, right?

5. Never stop training

Just because you’re in the teaching role doesn’t mean that you’re not still a student as well.  Always try to improve your skills, learn new things and get better at what you do.  Show a life-long commitment to the martial arts.  It will not only inspire your students to follow suit, but it keeps your teaching alive, constantly evolving and improving.  You can always improve and in doing so, you’ll be able to bring back new techniques or concepts to your students.  Stagnation is a bad thing in the martial arts.  So go to seminars, train with other martial artists, train as a student of a Sensei or instructor, and most importantly, keep an open mind.  By always striving to improve yourself, you can keep an beginner’s mindset, stave off ego and be a better teacher to your own students.  And in the end, isn’t it about them..?

Those are my top 5 things to think about when contemplating the role of martial arts teacher.  I’m sure there’s lots more.  Please feel free to share.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Worthwhile reading

Readers of this blog will know the importance I put on training for the most likely type of attacks from the most likely type of attackers.

Sue posted an article entitled I'm a woman, not a small man.  I strongly recommend you read both the post and the comments.

It's an interesting commentary on what's going on in the male (traditionally) dominated world of the martial arts.

It also hits on many important parts regarding how people train, the application and modification of techniques from a variety of situations, and it also illustrates the importance of attacking realistically.  

It also touches upon an issue I think is a big problem, and that is an increasing gap between the 'art' and the 'self defense' portion of what's being taught in many martial arts schools.  

This food for thought is fueling my thoughts on my last post about teaching.  

Enjoy the post.