Teaching can be Painful

Sciatica pain, as a result of my back injury, during the last 4 weeks in particular,  has been the most excruciating experience of my life, to say the least.  This painful experience has virtually immobilized me.  Richard Norton calls it the tooth ache of the back.  Now I can really appreciate the saying, ‘pain in the back’ (or whatever).  However, I have slowly been improving and trying to get to the schools and contribute in some way whilst I’m there.

I have noticed something extraordinary when teaching from an armchair.  Students were able to follow my instructions quite well, if not, better.  I have never known to teach without physically demonstrating so I put this success down to the verbal communication which is all I have for the time being.  The students, in turn, pay extra particular attention to what I say because that is all they have.  I asked the higher grades to do a jumping back kick, the other night, which nobody had any real idea what it even looked like.  But by breaking it down to a handful of moves and getting the students to practice each move until they got it right, then ‘voila’, the jumping back kick was born!  Wow, I thought; I must be good.

After discovering this I now realize instructing doesn’t always need to be hands on.  What is more important is to get the students to be more attentive.  It would be great to have a balance of both but sometimes when an Instructor tries too hard the student starts to turn their hearing volume down ie ‘why bother when somebody else is going to do the work for you’.  This doesn’t mean when I get back on my feet and teaching I am going to put my hands in my pockets. 

There is a realization that clear, correct and appropriate communication is the key to success for effective martial arts instruction.  The importance being what the Instructor says, how it is said, and if and how well it is being received by the student. 

Overall, the Instructor does a great job to develop young persons’ listening skills which is what the parents and schools always strive for. 

To finish off this blog, the clichè, NO PAIN, NO GAIN is wearing a bit thin with me.

Balancing Act

 Recently I bumped into an old student. I didn’t immediately recognize him but after a few glances I realized he had been a student when he was about five years old. His face looked the same but he sure did grow up. I said ‘hello’ and he immediately said ‘Sensei’ and bowed to me. He is now 19 years old and told me he thinks of our school often. I asked him to come back to train again. He said he wished he never quit. We spoke a bit more and I asked why he had given it away. He said he was a kid at the time and his parents let him quit.  Students often tell me they will be back someday but this very rarely happens. 

When people take up the martial arts, in the first place, they are seeking more than just a fitness, or sporting activity.  There is a little more to the martial arts than meets the eye.  It is about the challenges and accomplishments of an individual.  I believe we all need some direction and purpose outside our working (employment/school/domestic) environment.  Life is a balancing act (this is where the Yin and the Yang come into it).

Sometimes, the young ones may become bored (as we all do) and be swayed by other activities.  Parents should know that if a child gets bored with a toy, then getting them another toy will only be pleasurable for that short time just like the last one.  This is where parents have to be on the alert!  Parents can deal with these situations by approaching the Instructor (you will not be left on your own).  Don’t let your children quit! Martial Arts training is invaluable!  There are literally  thousands of success stories which demonstrate how the Martial Arts will enhance your child’s life.

I, personally, enjoy teaching and positively influencing people’s lives which I do through the martial arts.  Remember, a Black Belt is a White Belt that never gave up.