How to Motivate?

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Tenchi, May 2, 2012.

  1. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    Greetings all. I come with a question for everyone.

    Being an instructor at the dojang where I train, and being rather successful in my Poomsae competitions, my Sabumnim has made me responsible for training and guiding the Kup students in the area of correct technique both for general correct practice and for competition purposes.

    I know that training Poomsae is not easy, many details are required and while orienting their trainings I have come to remember some of my earlier trainings where I was trying to achieve some of the most basic stuff and details. I have been able to have most people do some nice stuff during the last year, especially the steps, but there is a lot more to work at. However, a problem has came up.

    The other day, my Sabumnim came to me and another instructor responsible for the Kyurugi part and complained about how, most people, seem to not show the will and determination that we do. They train hard and try to grasp the concepts of technique, yet they do not push themselves beyond their limits, regardless of how much we try to motivate them and guide them. They always seem to be brought down more by their "failures" (which result on a high demand for correct performance from our part) than in what they can achieve, and we do focus that what they are trying to do takes times and isn't something one can achieve over the night.

    After what he told us, we had a talk with the Kup and I even told them about past results the Dojang had had in Poomsae competition that were overwhelming. That what made distinction from us to the others where our spirit and the determination we presented. While I believe that worked on their morale to some extent, I don't find it enough. They will be having a small competition next Saturday and the nationals by the end of the month. How do I help them keep motivated at all times? How do I make sure that they do appreciate the small, yet significant advances they make and, more importantly, how do I make them push beyond their safe zone? Have any of you encountered a similar situation? Everybody's opinion is more than welcome and much appreciated. :)
     
  2. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    Ill just offer one piece of advice:
    A Motivated Teacher Motivates Students.
     
  3. decepticon

    decepticon Green Belt

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    Back many years ago, long before I became a student of martial arts, I remember studying what they then called kaizen, a supposedly Japanese business concept. This may be the totally wrong use for this word, this was back when everyone in the US was in such admiration of all things Japanese in terms of management.

    Anyway, supposedly the kaizen concept meant making small improvements every single day. The point being that fixing or improving even one small thing here and there would add up to major improvements over time. We were also asked, "What thing is your opponent doing today to prepare for your upcoming match and how can you do likewise and improve beyond his effort?" If your students are young, it might help to guide each one in selecting specific goals and timelines to work on certain things. I think one problem with lots of kids being unfocused is that they have trouble identifying the correct targets.

    I'm sure you could find some inspiring sportswear advertising that makes the point that goals are met and awards won not on the day of completion, but in all the days and efforts that lead up to that point. There should be lots of them coming up with the Olympics on the horizon.

    Your students may also be dealing with a fear of looking foolish if they push themselves to do something new and fail in front of the class. Perhaps you could occasionally have a time set aside when everyone would be required to try something that they do not already know, something that they are bound to fail the first time. And then work on those skills until everyone shows improvement.

    It is important to keep in mind though, that not all students want the same thing from their MA class. Some may be there merely because a parent decided it was a good idea and a convenient time and place. Others may be struggling with balancing a multitude of different activities and obligations and not have time to focus exclusively on MA. And of course, some just may not have the ability and aptitude that others do.
     
  4. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    A lot of truth in that. I think it is very difficult to give advice not knowing you or your students. Some things that might help are showing them what you can do a letting them know they can do the same if they continuously apply themselves. Let them know if there is a difference between you and them, it is the belief they can acheive. Jhoon Goo Rhee used to constantly remind us that we should always do things to our maximum, and always search for a new maximum. That has stuck with me all these 50 plus years. He used to show us things that were difficult and encourage us to try them as well. That gave us other goals beside the forms and sparring. He could jump flat footed higher and kick a ball, than the majority of us could with a running start. But in the limited free time we had, there were always some of us trying.

    I taught a very limited number of Hapkido students once I returned to the USA. But I have taught other things as well. I never had the problem but I was fortunate to have good students.

    Some people have never learned self discipline. They need a little more nudging until they do. Some will always need pushing. Some just aren't in the right place, but don't know it yet (and it usually isn't your place to try and tell them so).

    Good luck in your quest. I don't know that I have offered anything useful, but there are experienced teachers who no doubt can.
     
  5. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    Thank you both for the replies. Decepticon, I wouldn't say that time or pressure are their problems, but you touched a point when you mentioned their fear in looking foolish. We have some people, in particular this 20 year old girl, that is extremely unconfident. Only recently has she been able to believe in herself, and only because our Sambunim in person had her listen to his direct and honest compliments for about 20 minutes. She wouldn't even really listen to me in that part, denying even my praise as if they were exaggerated. Maybe because we are good friends. They all show love for what they do, they just don't attempt to jump in fear of falling. Maybe I'll try what you said, making them do something highly difficult just to get them used to failure and the thought of never quitting. Thanks again. :)
     
  6. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    Thanks, oftheheard1, pretty good advice. My Sambunim tells us that we should teach the most using ourselves as an example, considering we are young (I'm 22 years old and the other instructor is 18) and have recent and direct experience with training and self development, and we do follow that wisdom. Perhaps I do not emphasize enough that what I do is possible for them as well if only they give their all, I should probably start giving them some more motivation on that part.
     
  7. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    I would also be quick to acknowledge and compliment their victories, even small ones. Also, make sure they know that for most, the progress will be slow, but steady. That, even if they don't see it all the time. I noticed back in TKD how I would notice I seemed to be in a rut; not getting any better. I would question why I was continuing. But I kept going and one day I would suddenly realize that I had progressed. I didn't notice it as I went, and couldn't look back and tell myself that at such and such a time, that's when I got better. It was just that I would suddenly realize I wasn't in that rut any more, and was much better than I had been.

    I don't know if that happens to everybody, but it used to happen to me, and others I have talked to said it was so for them too. Since I realized that, I have always tried to let other students know that so the don't become too discouraged. That may help with some of your students as well.
     
  8. ATC

    ATC Senior Master

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    A few question I have for you.

    1. The students that you and the other instructor are responsible for, do they all compete?
    2. Do they like competing
    3. Do you have a competition team or do you let anyone that wants to compete

    Once I know the answers to those questions I can then give my 2 cents.
     
  9. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    To answer your questions, ATC, the students there are not of high ranking. As such, I cannot consider them, at least to the majority, to be competitors. However, it is a path that we nurture and push them to at least try it. Not a single one of them has shown desire not to compete. But some tend to get very nervous about it, even though they do want to do it. To what extent do they wish to do it? I do not not, but the motivation I seek is for training and self development in a daily basis and not just thinking about competition. Competing should be secondary with no further stress, at least if they already give their all. I just came back from training, some of them were "burning" a lot more than the other day, even with some pressure, they didn't quit, and that made me proud. However, not everyone is at that point, even though they show some desire to improve, they show it alongside fear of failure. But no one there is showing reserve regarding competition. And we do make sure they are the first ones to want to go (except in the case of that girl I mentioned, we had to push it at first due to lack of confidence... she was burning today :) ).
     
  10. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you think that possibly this is part of the problem? Rank has nothing to do with competition. Isn't that exactly why competitions are broken down into classes? An excellent performance of Il Jang is more impressive to me than a dan holder performing Keumgang with his toes spayed out during his narrow horse stances, his weight on the front leg during his back stances, and little power in any move. The video of this performance is on YouTube, along with a comment that he won second in poomsae with the performance.

    We are all competitors, even if we never compete with anyone other than ourselves.

    It's also possible that your age is a factor. Right or wrong, it is difficult for some people (especially those who are older than you) to believe that an 18 or 20 year old has the experience to really judge their performance. That may be, in part, why the young lady you mentioned (I wouldn't consider a 20 year old a "girl"...) didn't really take your comments to heart, but did listen to your (presumably older and more experienced) instructor.
     
  11. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    Dirty Dog, I don't consider them competitors in the sense that they have very few experience in an actual competition. To consider them competitors, in my eyes, would be to have them already training with competition objectives since September, which is when we consider the new sport year to start, the new competition cycle, as you will. Right now, we want them to compete just for the basis of having them trying it out, gaining the taste (or simply not liking it at all and decide not to do it again, although it has never happened) and have fun while doing it. I do know that there is a lot of value in low rank belts competition, but even those lower ranks must have a start and must have a time when they say "this is what I want to do". This line is what I expect from the majority of them after this and a few other competitions of the sort. It's a light pressure, regional competition. The motto is really "have fun". But we do practice Taekwondo, we do put our spirits to the test, or at least, we should. And that's what they're lacking. Not for competition alone, but for their every day training. But it will reflect on their performance on the Tatami, it will reflect how the judges see them, the first impression.

    Perhaps the age is a factor, although, when it comes to competitive experience, I have a share way higher than most. I do not believe it is so, not the age, but I do feel that I lack the charismatic feeling or at least the fearsome and respect worthy presence that my Sabumnim has (I'm a short guy, haha). As for the young lady (thank you for the better choice of words), perhaps not the age, but the proximity we share. She's my neighbor and I've known her for more than ten years. It was I that brought her to Taekwondo and she is one of my closest friends. I tend to goof a lot, not in the dojang, but that could have reflected inside the dojang, that may be the case. She, however, this past week has grown stronger in spirit faster than anyone I have ever seen before, after what she was told by my Sabumnim. She needed to feel good about herself, she always underestimated her ability, even after working steadily and making huge progresses, she wouldn't even recognize it (like oftheheard1 said).

    Thank you for your thoughts. :)
     
  12. ACJ

    ACJ Blue Belt

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    Are they doing the point deduction style of poomsae competition? If so, you might be able to actually measure their progress and show it back to them. Actually judge them on paper and you can give them a score out of ten. You'll be able to give some advice to fix a little mistake and then they can practice a bit and repeat, chances are they'll get an increase in score. Repeat a lot and you will see a trend of this number increasing. This may motivate them a lot, but it depends on the personalities.
     
  13. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    ACJ, that is actually a good idea. While the ponctuation system isn't the point deduction one (that one is exclusively used in Dan competition), I could give them my opinion on what their score is and have that as a base measurement for their performance. I do that mentally already at some times, giving them feedback about it would certainly help giving them a perspective. Thanks a lot.
     
  14. ATC

    ATC Senior Master

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    Thanks for the answers. This may help. You need to make the class fun. Since this seems to be a poomsae class you have a ton of ways to do this. One thing that I use is a friendly competition in class. As already stated we all compete anyway. Parnter up the class by 2's and then have each pair go up and compete. You don't judge you have the others sitting down judge. The winner goes to one side with the losers going to the other side. Keep doing this until all have gone once. Then re-pair up the winners until you have one winner. Then do the same for all the losers. Once you lose twice you are out and just a judge. Once you get the top single loser you have that person go again with the winner. The winner of that last paring is the winner for that day. When judgeing the majority wins. Simple and fun.

    You can also do this same kind of thing with groups of 3. No re-grouping after a round though. You simply have the winner sit down and give the losers an easy poomsae drill to work on. The students still do the judging with the majority winning.

    You job is simply to give feedback to the students after. You in no way influence the judging. You can also have each student judge pick out one mistake that they saw and then you can also pick out the one thing that you want then to work on to make it better next time. Only one thing. Then you do this same thing some time down the road. Keep notes on what you asked them to fix and see if they fixed it. If they did then you give them positive feedback about that and praise them for doing so. Something like "Wow, I notice that you fixed your front stance. It made your entire form look great. Keep up the good work". Simple but make people want to keep getting better, and they will work hard at getting better.

    I have quite a few fun games like this that we do to break up the same day after day routines. This keeps things fun but still learning and giving that full effort at the same time. The one thing to fix aspect does not give them to much to thing about, but that one thing my be in every form and many times in a single form, and once fixed will make the whole form look that much better.

    Hope this helps. At least I know what I am going to do in class today. ;-)
     
  15. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    Yesterday I did something like that, ATC. While not in a competition environment against each other, I did a competition simulation. Each one of them would perform as if they were in competition, entering the tatami and all, while the others would stand in front of them and perform as judges. Then I would require feedback from each one of them about what they did like and what they didn't and what they would like to see more. They also gave a grade. It had... interesting results, made them more aware of the judge perspective and the fact that many hold the same opinions and advices made it easier for who was doing the Poomsae to listen and reflect upon what they needed to improve. It also made them aware of the competition environment and some of them found unexpected difficulties or simply the same difficulties as usual. It was quite productive. I have to thank you all for the advices given. I'll give some feedback about what happened on Saturday after the competition is over.
     
  16. StudentCarl

    StudentCarl 3rd Black Belt

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    We compete mostly in sparring rather than forms, but one thing we do is to get them competing early and often. Our white belts don't go to tournaments, but I think it helps to start competing as a yellow belt at local tournaments. The atmosphere is positive and instructional...nobody expects low belts to have it all dialed-in, and much of the value is in getting out there and doing it. Good coaches find things to praise and manage both the expectations and stress level. Handling performance pressure is a vital life skill, and improving builds confidence.
     
  17. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    That's what I focus on saying to the yellow belts. That it is most of all an experience for the future and that they should take out as much fun from it as possible, without regarding for actual performance. They still get nervous as hell, haha, but it's normal. For some it's their first time competing. :)
     
  18. Tenchi

    Tenchi Yellow Belt

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    Saturday was the competition. I have to say I was a bit disappointed about the results as we did not get any good results as a team. However, I can say that I was rather pleased to see the guys motivated and giving their all there. They showed the spirit that I had been looking for and their performances were a bit above my expectations for the most part. I think those two factors combined allowed them to understand that they need to keep the spirits up ALWAYS during the training and not just for a competition. They saw that it was possible for them to further improve and get better, with more focus. We also got some results on a personal base, a few 2nd places and a couple of 1st and 3rd places.

    To me, it was my first real experience as a trainer, as I was able to accompany them all from the start up to the moment of the actual competition. I learned a lot from this myself. Thank you all that gave me feedback on the matter, I put some of this stuff to use and it brought me some results. :)
     
  19. ATC

    ATC Senior Master

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    Good to hear they are making steps. That's all you can do is step forward and progress. Congrats to you and your group.
     
  20. ks - learning to fly

    ks - learning to fly Senior Master

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    didn't know if you're still looking for posts...but for what it's worth, what motivates me and what I try to pass along is when my instructor gives signs that make me know - definitively - that he believes in me and I'm capable of more than what I'm doing...it makes me think I can and pushes me to try harder!!:)

    ***bows*** Kris123
     

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