Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teacher, Teacher

If you have chosen the very important task, whether as career, part time employment, or hobby, of teaching Martial Art, Combat Sport, or Self Protection.  Here are some guidelines you should ponder and reflect on to see if you are being the best possible teacher you can be.

The 6 W's

In police work report writing and investigative techniques, we used the old Five W's method. We had to make sure we knew or found out the Who, What, When, Where, and hoW of a case. Contrary to popular culture, tv shows and movies the Why is not as relevant as they would have you believe. The complexity of the human mind is such that if we needed to prove WHY a person committed a crime it would be a circus. That's why every time I watch a cop show or movie and they start babbling on about motive I chuckle. It's a useful investigative tool but not necessary to prove a crime. 
But why then, have I included  Why in the 6 W's of teaching? Because the motive behind what you teach, as we will discuss later, is the most important facet of your teaching arsenal. It dictates the other 5 W's.


Who are your students? Most importantly Who do you want as students?
If you are teaching Combat Sport; are you teaching hobbyists, amateur level, or pro athletes?
If so, do you train them separately? Are you able to recognize the talented hobbyist and perhaps motivate them into amateur or pro competition? Are you able to recognize the wannabe pro or amateur athlete who may need to step away and turn to recreation level training? Do you know how to do this without losing a student or completely crushing a dream?

In Martial Art, Are you training the devout followers of a specific tradition? Are they interested in the direct preservation of the art? Or are the future revampers and innovators of the style under your tutelage?

In Self Protection; are you teaching the average person how to defend themselves? Is it a group of elderly people? Are you training young girls concerned with sexual assault? Or is it a group of cops or soldiers?

Is the group you are teaching comprised of more than one of the categories? Understanding Who you are teaching is crucial. Don't just regurgitate material, always think "Who is my Audince?" especially when you are teaching.


This applies to all three fields equally. Is your material relevant? Is it organized? Is it transferable given your audience and time constraints? Are you teaching a private lesson? A small workshop? A large group?


The when has many facets. What time of day are you teaching? Do you know how to approach training early in the mornings? Do you incorporate a warm up? Do you use the same methods when training a group after lunch? Do you also use the same methods with your students that are there after a long day at a stressful job?
Do you know When "in their life they are training? Their age? Are they recovering from injury?
Teaching methods may need to be modified. The cookie cutter "I'm the teacher and this is how it goes" model is ineffective.


Location is also broad in terms. Are you at your school or someone else's? Are you in a cross discipline environment? For example a Self Protection specialist teaching a group of Combat Sports athletes. Is the training area safe?
Gone are the days of simply strutting out in front of a group and doing your shtick!


Are you delivering a workshop?A multi-day seminar? Are you holding regular practice sessions/Classes? Are you theory heavy and practice light? Vice Versa? How does this question fit in with the other W's?


Here is the big one. Why do you teach what you teach? Is it because you can?Are you teaching because you want to? Are you teaching because you don't know anything else to do? Is it for profit? For ego? Really ponder this and maybe you will discover the best teacher you can possibly be.

What does it all mean?

After reading all the above you may realize there was a ton of questions but not many answers.
Here is my point, if you introspect and answer the WHY honestly and clearly, the answer to all the other questions comes more easily.
Just as when answering the why above, all who read this, may come up with different reasons for teaching, we must remember that our students MOTIVES, also vary. Ultimately teaching coaching and training is not about you, it's about the student. We have a responsibility to them to deliver the best us we can. This can be achieved by asking the above very pertinent questions a decide either the type of student we want or the kind of teacher we should be.

Tony Torres
Copyright Tony Torres

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