The AMAZING Trade
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.