Monday, March 19, 2007

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Noticing ...

I travel quite often with my work, and visit many different martial arts schools. Consequently, I have come in contact, with hundreds, if not thousdands of martial arts coaches/instructors. I think that the majority of these have just woken up one day and found themselves in a teaching role, with little or no knowledge of how the teaching process works. The reason is obvious - most martial arts instructors spent their five or ten years in acquiring their physical skill sets, got their black belt, then were thrust into a teaching role - with virtually no teaching training or experience. A black belt in fighting skills does not automatically mean a black belt in teaching skills. I think this needs to change!

I spend quite a bit of time in the study of teaching strategies. I have tested and measured countless different instructional methodologies and come up with quite a few of my own. I am always researching linguistic and communications technologies, physical training models, coaching strategies and the like. This is an exciting aspect of the martial arts study for me. As a professional instructor, I get to test new ideas and constantly evolve the way I deliver the info to both new and experienced students.

In fact, I now get some of my work based on the way I teach, and not necessarily on just what I am teaching. When I work with professional trainers, I am almost always offering two things: the content/subject matter (combative technology) and the method by which I deliver that training. For man people, the latter is just as , if not more, important.

I started this process decades ago ... how .... by observing and NOTICING! I look at what the best communicators/instructors are doing and try to model those teaching methodologies that make them so special. So I invite everyone to try modeling some of the behavours/patterns that great instructors are consistently using.

Here are a couple of easy ones to start with:

BE THERE: Be fully present - and fully engaged! If you are just going to go through the motions, stay home! Be there, as if it was just you and the person you are looking at/talking to. Be right there - fully engaged!

ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE: People often need waking up! We never know what they have gone through before stepping into our class. So wake them up - get their attention. It doesn't matter how good the info is if your audience is not paying attention. The infamous 'Judo' Gene LeBell still wears a pink gi!!!

START WHERE THEY ARE: If you want to shift someone's thinking, you need to start with them from wherever they currently are - as opposed to preaching at them from wherever you want them to be. People have different world views, different paradigms - start wherever they are, and take them on a step-by-step journey to wherever you are trying to go.

Anyways - food for thought for those in a teaching role - or those considering the possibility of such in the future. Remember, the teaching/instructor apprenticeship starts the day you see your first instructor standing before you.

Train hard, train smart!
JBW

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