Bad instructor. What to do????

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Dadrockholiday, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. Dadrockholiday

    Dadrockholiday White Belt

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    Hi from a newbie!

    My son has just attained his Shodan rank at the age of 13 after 6 years or training. He studies Shotokan Karate. He has been with his present club for 2 1/2 years and his instructors are very well thought of in the community.

    Last night, another senior grade (but not an instructor at the club) took the class as the normal instructor was away.

    It was my son's first night as a black-belt and he was really looking forward to it.

    The issue is that the instructor continually picked on my son all night. He asked him to perform a kata in front of the class, which was great, however, when he finished (he did it really well by the way) he told him that he had been stepping incorrectly throughout the entire routine and performing it all wrong!

    He had only graded with this kata (under an 8th Dan Jananese Sensie) two days before. He then went on to tell him he was not doing it correctly and he was being 'dangerous'.

    He also completely lost his cool with some very junior members of the club, shouting at them and telling them they were not paying attention! This never happens with the regular instructor. The kids looked completely deflated.

    I was an inch away from telling my son to 'bow-out' and simply taking him home.

    I know the guy is wrong, but the question is what was his motivation to act that way? Is he hungry for 'power' or is there something else to it? He has taken the class a couple of times before and I have noticed his 'lack of composure and patience'.

    Do I mention it to the actual sensie in order that he does not let him train the class again, or do I just keep my mouth shut?

    My son also suffers with auditory processing disorder, which makes it difficult for him to hear with any background noise.

    The instructor has a foreign accent and is (at times) quite hard to understand.

    Just as a bit of background, most of the other adult students also had a look of disappointment on their faces when he stepped up to instruct.

    Just don't know what to do for the best. I was the only parent there and so I couldn't really discuss it. Am I making a fuss over nothing? It completely ruined his evening and did nothing to teach the lower grades any respect.
     
  2. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    I'm sorry to hear this and I feel bad for your son. I would start by telling your son that this is a lesson on life. Some people are just jerks, even karate instructors.
    Second, I would not hesitate to have a sit down with the school owner ( son not included ) and tell him how much you and your son enjoy being there but that he will not be attending a single class run by sensei X again and explain why in detail.
    Now for adult students I would say suck it up and just train. But for kids and young teens the environment is super important. I don't put up with that crap. If you come to class again with that instructor teaching the class walk out and take your kid out for ice cream instead. Your son also needs to know your behind him and willing to support him, most importantly in difficult situations.
     
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  3. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    I don’t have much more to add than what Hoshin 1600 said. Speak to the chief instructor about it privately. Call and make an appointment. Stay clam and professional during the conversation.
     
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  4. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Perhaps he is a bad instructor or perhaps the regular instructor is too slack, it could be either.
    For many people, even after training 6 years a 13 year old black belt is suspect. Many places don't promote children to that grade until they are 18 at least, others will give it only as a junior grade with the student being expected to re-grade as an adult. For others children being given black belts is a sign of a McDojo, it's something that causes much debate in martial arts. Many places mine included do not train adults and children together either, we don't find it works for either section. I'm not saying that this is the case, just pointing out some warning points.


    What if the guest instructor was correct? it's a thought you should have, just because he has been graded by an 8th Dan ( always question that too, don't take it as a total truth that an 8th Dan is actually better than everyone else, he could be but take it all with a pinch of salt) from the same organisation doesn't mean it's correct by style standards just correct against organisation standards. Have you watched various Shotokan people outside your organisation perform this kata and would you have the experience to know the difference or do you just know what the instructor does?


    Were they paying attention or taking the mickey because he wasn't their usual instructor?


    I know what I've written looks as if I'm sticking up for the guest instructor, I'm not I'm hoping your will question everything rather than just assume everything is fine when the usual instructor is there. I have the horrible fear that children who are given black belts think they can defend themselves but when shown they can't are either hurt or terribly upset. Talk to the chief instructor and see how that goes. Sometimes someone coming in can shake up the normal dynamic of a class, this isn't always a bad thing. Ask your chief instructor why the guest instructor said the kata was wrong, I'm thinking he will say it's correct as they teach it which isn't the same as correct for Shotokan as a whole. So both instructors will be right.
     
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  5. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    This is always something the instructor should know, so that communications can be altered in a way that helps the student. If I was teaching your son and I didn't know this, then I wouldn't automatically assume that he has an auditory processing disorder. It's not the first thing that comes to mind when "someone doesn't listen" to what I'm saying. The first thing that comes to mind is that "someone doesn't listen".

    Do what hoshin stated about there being jerks in the world. teach your son how to handle such situations.

    Without knowing more about the instructor I can't say what his reasoning is for his method of teaching. There are some benefits to aggressive teaching and pointing out that you are doing the smallest things "wrong."

    But sometimes
    Sometimes a soft voice will cut just as deep if not deep. But it does so without the "tearing down." Not every instructor knows when to switch gears and not every instructor has the ability to do so.


    When you think of martial arts instructors. There is usually no class that is taught on how to be a good instructor. Teacher go to college to learn how to be good teachers. Most instructors don't get any type of formal training where they learn how to be instructors. They are just asked to take over the class and are never taught the finer points until a parent like you comes up and brings it to the head instructor's attention that a"finer point" lesson may be needed.
     
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  6. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Welcome to MartialTalk, DadRock, hope you enjoy it.

    Hoshin said it all in his post. That's really good advice.

    Sorry to hear what happened. Teaching Martial Arts isn't easy, neither is running a dojo. Sometimes you need someone to teach for one reason or another. But that's no excuse for what you say took place. Do you train as well?

    As an aside, I'll tell you something. I had a less than honorable instructor when I started, and that's putting it mildly. But the good that came out of that was it fueled me to teach Martial Arts to make up for what I started with. I've been at it ever since, some forty five years now.

    Besides knowing how to teach in general, and how to teach the material in your particular Art, a teacher has to inspire, has to motivate, and has to make a student, any student of any rank, want to run back the next night to train again even harder.

    What really ticks me off is that it was your son's first class wearing a Black Belt. That sucks. You don't get that night back again. But, fortunately, there's a whole bootload of nights in front of him. I hope he sticks it out. I hope this all works out.

    As an instructor, I want to know what's going on when I'm not there. By all means go talk to the boss.

    How's your boy taking all this?
     
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  7. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I was thinking the same thing too. It's just difficult to say without knowing his reasoning for being "tough"

    I'm the type of instructor that will pick on the small thing simply because it's the small things that will get you jacked up in a fight. A small thing can be the difference between getting hit or losing balance and as a result I will come off as if "other people are stupid" and I explain things as if "other people are stupid." The only way that stops me from doing this is if I see it done correctly by the student, or if the student corrects his or her own mistakes or ackknowledges it.

    I'm not mean and I don't think people are stupid, but for me it's a big deal because I want student to be safe if the time comes.
     
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  8. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Most organisations that clubs and instructors belong to here don't just provide insurance etc but also instructor training courses so we are very lucky.


    Exactly, that's my big worry. I remember someone posting on here a while back that he'd just got two new students in, young... under teenage years, who had been given black belts at their previous place but when one had been beaten up by an older child while playing in a park the parents realised that the martial arts training had been useless so they changed to somewhere where the training was harder, less belts but effective. I haven't had that myself but that post has always stuck in my mind.

    An instructor friend of mine never asks what style you do, he just has one question 'can you fight?'. :)
     
  9. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    I agree with both of you. However, there’s a way to go about correcting mistakes, small and large.

    Let’s assume the instructor in question was completely correct in every single technique he was addressing. That doesn’t give him free reign to belittle, lose patience, etc. If the students were all wrong, chances are pretty good that they were doing what they were taught. Who’s shoulders does that fall on? The teacher who taught them. Giving students a hard time about making the mistakes they were taught is absurd. And there’s a way to go about making corrections, especially with kids.

    I’m not opposed to the drill Sargent methods. In fact I think we need more of that in our society, especially with the kids. But there’s a way to do it without crossing the line. Know your audience IMO.

    Edit: I’m not defending nor condoning what the instructor did. I wasn’t there.
     
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  10. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    I don't think there's an upper age limit where you should start taking abuse.
     
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  11. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    I'm pretty sure when I first started teaching, there were several students that left my school because of me, or potential new students that didn't come back because of me. I've gotten a lot of guidance from my Master about how to encourage kids to continue training as opposed to expect them to get everything right out of the gate.

    So I would definitely talk the owner/master/normal instructor and let them know the issues with this guy and see if they can work on them with him. And if his attitude is one that he won't work on his issues, then I would say I wouldn't let my kid take a class with him.
     
  12. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Just my 2 cents.

    My son is also 13 years old and a black belt. He doesn’t teach by himself but does assist a lot with the teaching of the beginner and intermediate classes.

    When he has problems with a student or another instructor.....I tell him to figure out how to handle it...:I might give him advice on how he needs to handle it, but it’s up to him to take that advice and handle it himself. I don’t go talk to his instructor...I leave that up to him. This is a good place to learn conflict resolution.

    I would suggest you advise him to go to his instructor and/or the guest instructor and work this out himself.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  13. mrt2

    mrt2 Blue Belt

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    I agree with others who say OP should have a private conversation with the head instructor about what happened.

    Without more information, it is hard to know for sure what is going on. Is this guest instructor just more of a hard *** than the head instructor? Does he come from a different school, and hence have a different take on kata than the head instructor? Does he have a problem with 13 year old black belts? Or is he just an a$$hole? Either way, the head instructor should know and clear up any misunderstanding.

    As for your boy, I would suggest OP have a conversation with him. This is sometimes part of life. Ideally, nobody should have to deal with abusive teachers or coaches, but sometimes you just have to harden up and deal with it. I know this is the boy's first class as a black belt, but there will be many others.
     
  14. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    IF he in fact did. I have seen many times people having big differences of opinion about how a person spoke to others. I've heard people tell others not to shout when they weren't and said people have spoken harshly when they didn't. It's very dependent on the perception and experience of the person listening. One person's sterner instructor is another person's drill sergeant.


    If the permanent instructor is softly spoken, doesn't admonish the children and is generally relaxed another instructor who speaks louder ( often to be heard in a class) and is more rigorous in teaching could easily appear to be more 'abusive' than the other instructor. Often parents who are obviously protective of their children will take what has been said as being belittling etc when it's really not. I've seen this many times. I'm not saying this is the case here but we have to be careful about make snap judgements against the visiting instructor when we weren't there.
     
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  15. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Absolutely. We can’t defend him nor condemn him, as we weren’t there.

    Regardless of all of that, the OP and his child obviously aren’t happy. A private meeting with the head guy is in order IMO. It’s the head guy’s job to address it (or not) however he sees fit. Then the OP can accept the head guy’s decision or can look for another place.
     
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  16. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Absolutely (to be honest though I wouldn't be happy if my son was only 13 and was given a black belt but that's just me.)
     
  17. FriedRice

    FriedRice Master Black Belt

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    Earning a Black Belt at age 13 should be the main concern.
     
  18. mrt2

    mrt2 Blue Belt

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    That is a philosophical issue. I am not wild about it either, but I accept it as part of the martial arts landscape. Relatively speaking, child black belts are more skilled than colored belts. While I was warming up for class yesterday, I was watching a 1st Dan girl absolutely dominate a purple belt boy. Both kids were about 10, or at most 11 years old.
     
  19. mrt2

    mrt2 Blue Belt

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    It is OK. Junior black belts are a thing now. As long as the school maintains its standards for adults, I don't see a problem with it. Sort of inevitable, really, that if a school starts kids out as young as 6 or 7, by the time they turn 13, some of them will be black belts.
     
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  20. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    So basically your upset because someone gave your kid advice on how to improve...did you believe he was perfect and because he's a black belt he knows everything?

    Also he shouted at kids misbehaving...well so he should itll teach them to pay attention.

    Ive read nothing that sounds like a bad instructor. Are you its him.thats the problem?
     
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