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Leadership Training Courses Now at Our Dojo | Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu

Leadership Training Courses Now at Our Dojo

I recently had the privilege of attending the Assistant Instructor course for Jitsu Canada. This course is a requirement for the purple belt level in their organization. It’s a half-day course that trains students in the leadership skills that are expected of them at their belt level. They also have an Instructor course, required for brown belt and a Club Instructor course, required for 1st degree black belt.

Having a university background in Communication and Training, I have been meaning to put together some leadership courses tailored specifically for my Vancouver/Richmond BC martial arts dojo. I am now planning to run my first Assistant Instructor course early in the new year.

The purpose of this course is to teach intermediate colour belts how to run warm-ups and cool-downs, how to assist fellow students in their training, how to teach breakfalls, how to help fellow students with dojo etiquette, how to set an example for other students, etc. This will be a grading requirement to reach purple belt from now on. I will also be creating an Instructor course that will be required for brown belt, which teaches senior colour belts further leadership skills, classroom management skills, technique demonstration skills, etc. This is designed to support their learning as an apprentice instructor. Students of both classes will also receive manuals for reference.

Leadership is very important for the overall health of a dojo as newer students look to their seniors as an example of how to behave and what they can expect as they themselves develop. Most dojos impart these skills organically, meaning there are no set leadership classes. They simply lead by example and hope for the best. This can be an effective system, but sometimes certain information slips through the cracks. By having a set leadership training program, it ensures that everyone at certain belt levels are on the same page and that the leadership of the dojo is united in its approach.

And now to you… what is the leadership training like in your dojo? Do you find that it helps build effective leaders? What kinds of skills would you like to see in such a program?

Comments (7)

7 thoughts on “Leadership Training Courses Now at Our Dojo

  1. The leadershipskills in our dojo are developed using a simple but effective methodology: teach by example. I observe sensei teaching and this gives me clues as to how best explain things, conduct the warm-up… Since we're friends we also discuss things among ourselves, including teaching-methodology. We also have a forum on the website with a lot of technical information, there's a section for teachers only (basically only me and him have access at this point) and here he posts lists of advanced techniques and drills and models for each class: one for the two hour class on friday and a hour and a half one for wednesday. I think the main thing about teaching is to create a good atmosphere of friendly cooperation among the students, to tailor the exercises to their specific level, to explain everything properly (including the possible dangers) and in general make sure the exercises are varied and fun. Humour is an important factor, as is confidence in your own abilities.

    What I still find difficult, especially when assisting sensei instead of leading the class is to distinguish between the students that want to be helped and the ones that refuse pointers and good advice… The problem is that I tend to reason from my own perspective: if I made a mistake I'd want someone to alert me to it so I can correct myself and grow. However some people just want to be left alone or are so sure of themselves they think they know what they're doing, even if it's clear they don't. Apparantly some people find it difficult to accept feedback from a mere brown belt, especially if they have some experience in another art, I'm curious to see whether that will change when I get my shodan.

    Back to the main topic: our organization runs assistent-courses and instructorcourses on two levels (B and A), aswell as one for teaching the sports-variant of JJ. If I have more time I'd like to take an assistent-instructor course since it'll give some extra credibility (not that you really need it to teach: ability and having the proper belt are still the most important things) and it'll probably be interesting. It runs for about 10saturdays in a row and the topics are: first aid, basic human anatomy, applicable legal topics (accountability, legal self-defense, weapon-laws), basic techniques, sports-physiology and all sorts of pointers on basic techniques and exercises. I still think you learn the most from your own sensei and the feedback you get from your students but I'm sure it'd be an interesting experience and it's nice to be able to present some sort of official degree pertaining to the activity you're involved in. If something goes wrong and someone gets injured it's an extra factor in proving your innocence in the matter.


    PS: whether our approach helps to impart the necessary leadership-skills I don't know, you'd have to ask our students. For me I just do my best and let God take care of the rest. At least untill I find the time to complete that assistent-instructor course 😉

  2. I've answered your question, now I have one for you: what qualities should a good teacher posses? In addition you could ask whether these qualities are innate or can be developped from scratch… Personally I don't think everyone is cut out to be a teacher, just as there are certain people that will never become good fighters no matter the amount of training they receive. Fate deals the cards and we play the best we can.


  3. Zara,

    Certainly some people have innate skills that make them a better teacher than others without training, a natural ability to show empathy and communicate in a way that speaks to both groups and a wide variety of individuals.

    This is also true of other skills too. Take math for example. I don't have the greatest math skills, mostly due to lack of motivation and interest. I was, however, able to learn the basic skills I needed to get by. While people who lack natural social and communication skills may find it harder, if they are motivated to learn they too can learn certain concepts and communication techniques to make them better instructors. They aren't likely to be as good as those with natural skills, but they can still learn to be helpful.

  4. Personally, if I have no talent whatsoever pertaining to a subject I'd never pursue it since I feel it's wasted effort. At least when there's not external motivator: why try when you know the best you can ever be is average? If I didn't feel I'd make a decent teacher (i.d I have some talent for it) and I didn't get some kind of personal satisfaction out of seeing someone succeed because of me I wouldn't bother: this is why I have doubts about so called 'leadership programs', of any variety… Leaders aren't made, they are born that way and even without the theory they'll find out what works and doesn't work on their own and their natural ability and emotional intelligence will help them far more than any textbook or course.

    Granted you'll always pick up something (if only how not to go about something) but I am and probaby will always be a big fan of learning by example as opposed to someone lecturing about topic, that is the main difference between theoretical subjects like math and practical pursuits like martial arts.

    Just my two cents,


    PS: I do have another question. Do you think most students want feedback and correction of their mistakes or do they want to be left alone to enjoy the activity regardless of the result? From my experience most fall in category b and if you want a lot of students it's best to leave them to their own devices, at least in the beginning. People seem to have trouble taking criticism these days, even if it's well intentioned and presented respectfully, yet it's the only way you're every going to get any good… Reminds me of my old dojo: the beginners were mostly ignored and left to practice on their own, little explanation was given and only the higher belts were given personal attention when requested. Seemed to work fine since sensei always had 30 to 40 students on the mat each class. What's your opinon on this?

  5. In teaching, you learn a lot about what you're teaching. You'll see it from sides you might not have considered before. You'll learn to help adjust it for different scenarios, different size match-ups. Even if you don't have a natural talent for teaching, there is a lot you can learn from helping other people, which is why it is generally a requirement at the black belt levels.

    I agree that sometimes people at the lower levels don't want help, perhaps due to pride. I'm lucky, I don't seem to get many students like that at my dojo. But then sometimes, once you've explained something to a person, they might continue making the same mistake out of habit, not because they're not trying. It can be irritating to have someone continuously correcting a mistake you're aware of and trying to fix. I think it's kind of a case by case thing. Sometimes you have to let it lie. Others you have to be proactive.

  6. I agree about the teaching part, that's what makes the experience so valuable: you're not just doing it for the benefit of others but yours as well.

    As to the more practical question: I've decided to stop correcting anyone unless I'm teaching the class myself or someone asks a specific question. Let them have fun and live in a fantasy world if they want, actually becoming good at this is not everybody's goal and this knowledge is a little too valuable to squander on the ungrateful, the lazy, the opportunistic and the unworthy. As the bible so aptly puts it: 'don't throws your pearls before the swine, nor your holiest before the dogs'. How very true…


  7. If people aren't reacting well to feedback, you're probably better off leaving them alone and allowing your Sensei to handle it unless they are making a mistake this compromises their safety or the safety of their uke.

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