Martial arts seminars have unique characteristics that differentiate them from standard ongoing classes in a school or club atmosphere. They are usually not your own students who will benefit from building on the knowledge base you offer over time. They may not even be from the same style as you, or even the same martial art. As such, I take a different approach to teaching them so that students make the most of the experience.
A martial arts friend and colleague of mine sent me an email yesterday to wish my happy Mother’s Day. He said, “This may seem weird, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. Not sure if you think about it this way, but you are truly a mother to your dojo.” It was the nicest thing I heard all week.
A little over a week ago, a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school owner wrote a blog post openly discussing his frustrations that women don’t seem to stick with their training. This sentiment is not uncommon in the martial arts world, which is largely dominated by men. There was some backlash from the female martial arts blogger community at some of the comments that he made, and questions were raised as to whether he really was doing right by the women who come through his doors. I’m not looking to further that discussion, because the only women who can make any such claims either way are those who train at his dojo, and frankly, I believe the instructor who wrote the post genuinely wants to do his best to develop female students. Rather than writing a “he said-she said” style response post, I’d like to offer my own insights from my experience of being a female martial arts instructor who has been in the industry for 20 years. (more…)
On Sun. Jan. 6, I tested for 2nd Degree black belt in Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu. I am happy to report that it went well and I passed. As part of my Nidan requirements, I was required to submit an essay, explaining one or more ways teaching Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu has changed my perspective. Below is my submission.
Shifting Perspectives: In and Out of the Dojo
by Chris Olson (more…)
“Practice makes perfect”, or so we were led to believe when we were growing up. “If you do something 10,000 times, you’ll be a master,” is another similar saying. But this isn’t the whole story. That’s why my Sensei always said, “Practice does NOT make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Practice makes permanent.” In other words, if you practice a thing 10,000 times wrongly you’ll have only mastered doing that thing wrong, sealing the incorrect method into your muscle memory.
This is why it’s important to train your body to do a physical skill like a martial arts technique correctly as quickly as possible so that all your practice serves to reinforce that method, rather than reinforcing a method that is incorrect or inefficient, even if it feels more natural to you. There are methods of correcting technique to get yourself on track more quickly an efficiently, three of which I will outline in this article. (more…)
In my first style of Jiu-jitsu with the Jitsu Canada organization we have a series of courses that you are required to take as your progress through the ranks in order to lay the foundations for teaching. It begins with an assistant instructor course which is required for purple.
I was covering the BCIT Jitsu Canada class on Tuesday and after the class I was talking to some of the students that were eligible to take the Assistant Instructor course that is being run this weekend. Several of them were a little apprehensive about taking the course, with one who was so nervous, she was tempted not to attend. Her argument was that she still had so much to learn, and she didn’t have the confidence in the techniques she already knew to pass them along. To put her mind at ease, I better explained the course, and the purpose of the course.
Yesterday, I ran a green belt test for 4 students. During the test I yelled… a lot. I yelled when students weren’t lining up for a breakfall quickly enough. I yelled when people were stalled on techniques. I yelled when people weren’t doing kiai enough. I yelled when doing counts for striking drills.
Not only do I yell, when I do it during tests, I do it with an angry tone. This is one of the hardest things for me to do, because in reality, I really like my students and just want to help them do their best. But the yelling is one tool that helps me do that. This is a concept in the martial arts that I think deserves elaboration.
For some reason, a lot of people think that because I am a female martial arts instructor that my students would probably be mostly women. This is far from the truth. The reality is that my division of men to women is pretty much the same as it is in most martial arts schools, with more men than women training. People train for all sorts of reasons, but many of my students, both men and women, look at training under a female instructor as beneficial to their learning. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. Less Macho Training Environment. One of the reasons many people are hesitant to take up martial arts training is because they are worried that there will be too many people who train with a macho attitude using the dojo as their own personal proving ground. They worry that this kind of environment would make the social element unappealing, and the training environment potentially dangerous as people take out their personal baggage on unsuspecting partners. With a female instructor running the show, a class is less likely to attract people with macho attitudes because they’re (more…)
When you train in a martial art with a lot of partner-based training, you end up working with all kinds of people, big or small, male or female, experienced or inexperienced. With all the different pairings, you find that everyone has different habits, some good, some neutral, and some bad, which can be dangerous for one or both people in the pairing. In our dojo, we tend to attract people with good training attitudes and ethics, so students don’t generally do things while they train that are intentionally dangerous. That being said, sometimes adjustments need to be made for safety. A student might hit or throw a training partner a little harder than the person receiving is comfortable with. Or maybe a less experienced student might cling to person throwing them in a way that is dangerous. (more…)
Teaching is an important vocation, not simply to pass on knowledge, but to inspire people to greatness. Teachers have the capacity to change lives, and it’s not just because they put together a good lesson plan. The best teachers are the ones that see those they teach not simply as students, but as people.
Each person has their own unique learning style, personality, and life situation. They each have different interests and passions that inspire them, as well as different hot buttons or issues that cause them to think stressful thoughts. If teachers take a genuine interest in their students not simply in terms of their training but in the context of their whole lives, they can not only help better in the class setting through greater understanding, they can also touch their lives in a more meaningful way.
I covered some of this concept in my blog post How Martial Arts Instructors Can Give More, but I feel like there is more that can be said on this topic. Here are 3 ways teachers can focus more on their students as people: (more…)