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.
A recent Time article called Why Floundering is Good I read suggests that trying to figure out something on your own produces better results than having guidance from the beginning. The article is written in the context of intellectual learning, but I do think there are some takeaways for people learning or teaching martial arts or other physical skills, even if some adjustments need to be made for practicality and safety.
Obviously you don’t want to let students practise martial arts techniques in a way that is unsafe to themselves or their partners. They may learn from the injury, but at the cost of their well-being and the ability to train, which is not a worthwhile trade-off. Once certain foundations are laid, however, and students are able to do the techniques safely, it’s a good idea to give them “puzzles” to work out once in a while so they better understand the when to use what they’ve learned effectively. (more…)