I have enjoyed a love affair with the martial arts for over thirty years now. It occurs to me that during that time I have taught more than 25,000 classes. Certainly, I have taught approximately 10,000 classes during the past decade of my martial arts life. During the course of this instructional experience, I have learned a thing or two …
One of the most important things I have learned is that each and every student is the centre of his or her own universe. That is to say, they are equally central to the teaching/learning equation, as I am myself. I am acutely aware that the person I am teaching has paid for my time, not only with their hard-earned money, but more importantly, with their time. Each of us has a limited amount of time left to them; my students are trading precious amounts of this time, to undergo learning and training with me on the mat – I should respect and acknowledge this amazing ‘trade’; and I should pour my heart and soul into doing the best possible job I can.
To do my job well, I need to be 100% fully engaged. I need to be fully engaged both during the class I am offering and during the preparation phase of my class. During the class – that’s the easy part. I have long since developed that habit. But the prep-phase, is another matter entirely. I am always doing research on how to improve both my teaching/delivery/communication skills and my physical/technical skills. I never just rest on the skill-sets I currently have. This is all part of full-engagement.
I have also, over the years, come to understand the importance of being totally authentic. I am what I say I am – I deliver what I say I can deliver – I am true to myself – and true to my students. Authenticity is very important to me and I believe that people, more than ever, are seeking the authentic experience and become more fully engaged themselves when they are exposed to it.
Space for one more important idea – and that is the idea that a teacher needs to move people from where they are rather than from where he or she is. In taking people on a journey from their present state to another desired state, we need to get in the trenches with them and guide them through the process of making that journey, a single step at a time. This is vastly different from preaching, where the teacher yells down from his or her pedestal. I will never be content with getting peoples heads nodding – I want them to experience profound shifts and measurable growth. In short – I am obsessed with actual results. That’s what people want – that’s what we, the teachers, need to provide.
The past 25,000 classes have taught me far more than I have taught my students. I will not rest, till they catch up.


Anonymous said…
do you have any "must" reads to improve my teaching skills?
Anonymous said…
Top stuff sir. Having been in your classes at Black Belt Studios I can agree fully with you that you do get in and teach well rather than preach your classes. Thanks a bunch
- Dale
JBW said…
Sorry - anonymous 1 - no 'must reads' come to mind. I have gleaned my teaching skills form 25,000 classes of experience and hundreds of various books on a wide variety of subjects. I wish there was 'ONE' great book. perhaps there is - I havn't found it. In the back of my mind I have the idea of writing such a book on SUPERCOACHING Secrets - one day. perhaps.
JBW said…
Thanks Dale,
I love being at my school - and being 'on the mat'. I hope you are enjoying your training. Best wishes to you,
Anonymous said…
Top stuff John. If more instructors/teachers/coaches had this level of understanding, awareness and engagement with respect to the learning process then students of the world would be in much better place. I also believe that you are a great teacher because you are a great student. Thanks for the knowledge transfer…can’t wait for my next training session! Craig
Unknown said…
Oh do I wish I had a teacher like you.
JBW said…
Fintaine ... thank you for your kind comment. I do appreciate it. However, without wishing to come across as ungrateful ... I have to say, I have never relied on 'great' teachers in my own training - I have taken 'self responsibility' ofr my own learning - in other words, I have been a great student - that way I don't have to rely on my teachers 'teaching skills' (or lack thereof). I humbly take your point though - the perfect situation is one where the teacher is competent at their skill-set and the student is competent at theirs - one is a good teacher, the other a great learner - this mix produces magic!
Thanks again,
Korbett said…

I am going to keep bugging you for the super-coaching book. After Rogue Black Belt III pleaze. It is something out industry is lacking. Your teaching on command, hourglass theory, mono-sylabic commands just those things alone you could structure a book about.
JBW said…
Hi Korbett,
thanks for 'bugging me' - if I feel there is an interest out there for that ind of book, I am far more likely to write it. I hope you and your are well - can't wit to see you up in sunny seattle again.

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