To Teach or Not to Teach – that is the question. I’ve recently caught up with Richard Norton, who is recovering from successful surgery on an old shoulder injury whilst in the USA. He told me I might have a chance in the next 'no rules' contest, with his arm in a sling. I told him he needn't worry because it’s not going to make much difference with my back (lol). Richard and Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez, (World Kickboxing Champion and Super Martial Artist) have had some interesting discussions about the difference between a Teacher and Coach in the martial arts. In a nutshell a Teacher is a 'life coach' and mentor.
There are literally 1,000’s of coaches (instructors) and only very few teachers in comparison. Anybody can literally be a Coach but not everybody can be a Teacher. A Coach, metaphorically speaking, can be an Instructor who picks up a few techniques from youtube and DVDs. The problem is, the techniques taught, have not been ‘pressure tested’ ie Instructors don’t have the experience, and real understanding and long term ramifications of them. A Teacher, should have a comprehensive knowledge of the mechanics and workings of all techniques they teach. A good Teacher also has a long term plan for the student and not just a quick fix like some of the MMA classes offer (unfortunately, today just about every Instructor claims MMA wisdom without getting suitable training). A Teacher can also solve problems and answer questions. Most Coaches may frown upon anybody asking them questions because they might consider it an insult.
Commercial schools tend to offer a variety of martial arts. Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, BJJ, MMA, Fitness etc. I have yet to find a doctor who is also an architect, lawyer, engineer. I am sure these schools have plenty of Coaches but I wonder how many Teachers do they really have.
In my opinion, the term Grandmaster title, is misused in terms of its true definition. If a Teacher is to maintain integrity of their martial arts ability,, they should be willing to keep their ego in check by training with the very best. I don’t believe they can give themselves such a 'title', it can only be bestowed upon by the very best. Me, personally, I wouldn't want to be called Grandmaster; it would make feel as if I know everything. Besides, there are too many of them around!
GA (the Teacher)