Saturday, February 16, 2013

Are you ready to teach?

For a long while, I've been pondering when the right time is to start teaching.

There is a simple answer of course, which is not until your Sensei or teacher gives you permission.  So let's assume you have that, or are no longer under the tutelage of any one teacher.

So, when are you ready?  When should you start teaching?

In many ways, I think you never really feel ready if you are a true student of Budo.  We are all learners, all students on the path, regardless of our position in any club, dojo or organization.

Who are the best teachers?  

Obviously you must have a significant skill set in order to teach.  You can't teach what you don't know.  There's a bit more to it though.

Some of the best fighters in the world train under coaches who have never fought professionally or have never been champions themselves.  So what qualifies them to teach?

What qualities do they have that set them apart from the rest?  

I think it's their ability to allow others to discover their own skills and abilities. They have to ability to train people, sometimes even to a level that surpasses their own.  

Let's face it, not everyone is meant to teach.  A high level of skill alone does not a teacher make.

So how do you know when you are ready?  

Should you be confident that you are always better than any of your students?
Should you teach when enough people ask you to?
Is there a time when you know, for certain, that you are ready?  Is 'knowing' you are ready a sign that you have too much ego?

It's one thing to train with people and to share information, it quite another to be a Sensei or teacher.  Training requires a certain degree of structure to be valuable. Without this, people just kind or work on 'whatever' and often there is no chance to perfect the techniques or identify your own shortcomings under the watchful eye of another.

I don't have the answers.  

I have been asked to teach by some people and I am in a position where I deliver some training in my professional endeavors.  

Even though I am actually teaching some self defense techniques (at work), the thought of officially teaching outside of work seems a strange thing to me.  While I am confident in my abilities, I am not satisfied with my own skill level.  I never will be, of course, being a life long student of the martial arts.

Again, I don't know what the right time is to officially start teaching.  I would love some feedback from all you teaching out there or from those of you contemplating it.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Where tradition meets reality

This post is inspired by a few things.  One is my recent introduction to a qualified instructor in traditional martial arts, Jiu Jitsu, Karate, sword and weapons. Another is my last post about understanding the traditional arts and another is from the comments left on that post.

Sue's comment on getting back to the 'roots' of Karate and Michele's comment on concepts of movement and Brett's on the intent of technique all got my brain working.

Now, all martial arts are based on traditional martial arts, in one way or another. It's your definition of what 'traditional' means that can have such as effect on whether or not you think traditional systems are superior to reality based systems or even mixed martial arts.

My definition of what traditional means is that they are based on true combat. The techniques were forged on the battlefield.  They were tried and true.  If they worked, they were passed on.  If they didn't, well, they weren't.  And you weren't there to do so.

They were also flexible and adaptable.  Although there is usually a syllabus to follow in a traditional martial arts school, the arts themselves were never stagnant.  They changed as the world changed around them.  They were, in essence, reality based systems as well.  

So traditional martial arts are (were?) reality based systems and reality based systems were (are?) based on traditional systems.  Hmmm...

Having these discussions can sometimes turn into a bit of a loop.  And that's good. Style to style, system to system, art to art, there's really not as much of a divide as some might think.

In many ways, we're all studying the same thing.

The human body only moves in certain ways.  There are not real 'new' kicks under the sun, no secret joint is as yet undiscovered that can be exploited.  The body is the body.  It's how you approach combat, self defense and fighting that separates us.

The issues and subsequent debates over one style or system being superior to another come not from the arts themselves, but from the people passing them down and their understanding of the 'roots' or core concepts of the art.  It is also very much in the intent of the student and the teacher.  No one can become proficient and be able to apply their art in a real violent encounter if they haven't prepared themselves mentally for the challenge.  

Rules, while good for competition and safety, can get in the way of being able to protect yourself during a real attack if you've never turned your head to fighting without them.  

You fight as you train.  And much of your training occurs inside yourself, not on the mats.

The title of my blog includes the line:

"The study of Japanese Jiu Jitsu as a reality based martial art"

This means more to me every day.

Thanks for reading.