What is teaching? Are we teaching martial arts like college professors teach English or Math? Does our teaching style mirror that of a buffet counter at a restaurant? Are we teaching just to assure ourselves that we know the material?
A good teacher focuses not on the material that he/she is presenting, but also on the ability of the students to absorb that information. Effective teaching requires simple explanation and many repetitions with the least amount of talking. Many times, a sensei will want to hear him/herself talk about a technique for minutes and then only let the students practice it for a short period without stopping them and injecting additional comments. In fact, WE as sensei must evaluate the students’ abilities and let them continue to perfect the techniques through repetition. Comparing us to the business world, the students are our CUSTOMERS. Without them, we have no one to teach. Therefore, a sensei must let the students maximize their work out and get their money’s worth.
Most students need time to get used to a technique through repetition; then the techniques will eventually become second nature. The work out must be just that – a WORK OUT. More often than not, classes are too highly concentrated on techniques and lack training on speed, power and conditioning. Teaching martial arts is closer to coaching a team sport such as soccer or football than teaching a science. A coach must allow a player to practice and experience growth through hard work.
Can a good teacher be a motivator? What is our motivating style? Who do we need to motivate?
A motivator has knowledge of the students’ desires and personalities. He/she must know how and when to push or pull a student through a rough time during training and testing. Motivating by intimidation can only work if there are NO OTHER OPTIONS. This is old fashion and should rarely be applied to teaching Martial Arts. Motivating with an ego is unhealthy and restricts growth.
Can a good teacher be a good motivator or vice versa? A good sensei not only knows the technical aspects; he/she is able to present the material in a manner that the student can understand. A good motivator can get extraordinary results out of ordinary students. There are many of us who believe that simply being sensei means we’re good motivators. A motivator has patience, compassion, understanding, and, most important, people skills. Motivators exist at all rank levels, and a good teacher will see this and allow the lower rank to motivate his/her classmates through example, hard work, dedication and achievement.
Who can lead? What is an effective leader? Can a person learn how to lead? How do you differentiate between a leader and a teacher?
Everyone can learn to become an effective leader. An effective leader earns the respect and love of his/her PEERS. A sensei cannot be a leader until his/her peers allow him/her to lead. To reach this level, a high level of commitment, unconditional giving and an ability to forgive must be exemplified. A seasoned and experienced sensei is not always a good leader. To earn this, he or she must reach outside of his domain and help to motivate other sensei and students. This is an unselfish act that will serve others (code of ethic #1).
How do you recognize a TEACHER, MOTIVATOR, and LEADER?
A TEACHER knows technical approaches and methods of presentation. His/her students will improve, and the standard of technique is not sacrificed by favoritism or ranking requirements. The quality and technical standards of the students will determine a good teacher.
A MOTIVATOR knows how to retain his/her senior ranking students and facilitates their motivating the lower ranks. A good motivator will also know how to increase the intensity of the WORK OUT without having BURNOUT. Without HARD WORK the work out is merely a demonstration. More often than not, a teacher does not press their students to the limit because he/she is not a good motivator.
A LEADER is a good TEACHER and a good MOTIVATOR. His/her knowledge, spirit, and wisdom are well received by the lower ranks and his/her peers. A good leader will allow others to showcase their strengths and help to supplement their weaknesses. A good leader will be well received by EVERYONE. Osensei Dong’s motto for all true leaders was this: “Common people share the same INTERESTS. Great people share the same IDEALS.”
GM Quynh Ngo