Should an instructor help a student reach his goals or vice versa?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by PhotonGuy, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Purple Belt

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    Yeah and that's the thing, sometimes you just don't have to have a specific goal or reason why you train, it's often not tangible at all. You can just stay in that 'fascinated' place, and train just because you're drawn to something. We often try to set up in our mind there's got to be a 'reason' or 'logic' why we do things, but it just often doesn't work out that way. To approach things with a real innocent curiosity I've found to be really insightful..

    I know why I left my old style, it wasn't meeting me with how I wanted to approach myself and life (see that's VERY grand and abstract haha), so I've moved on. It definitely served its purpose at the time, but now I've learned what was needed from there and I feel internally that I can safely move on from that. It's definitely coming from a place of power rather than 'giving up'. And now I'm spurred by a curiosity and I'm going to explore other styles as I'm clearly still drawn to martial arts...
     
  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    You just haven't found your next thing. You're hanging out on a MA forum for pity's sake. You'll be back - you've got the bug.
     
  3. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Of course not. But there is no reason why the instructor shouldn't from time to time give the student guidance that's specific to the student's goals. Also, there is no reason why the student shouldn't be able to approach the instructor before or after class with specific questions that pertain to the student's goals.

    I would never go to a mcdojo. If mcdojos do serve a good purpose, as I once read in this magazine article, they serve as filters in that students who are satisfied with mcdojos can go there and that way they won't be taking up space in a dojo that teaches the real thing.

    Communication is key. Of course wanting to improve certain aspects as you mention also involves going to the proper school that teaches those aspects. You wouldn't train in a grappling art, for instance, if you want to improve your punches and you wouldn't train in a striking art if you want to improve your arm bar or choke.

    For that reason I think its a good idea to do research on different arts and at least get a basic idea of what each art teaches before committing yourself to a specific art long term. You might watch classes here and there and you might take a few classes at dojos that have an introductory program so you can get the basic idea of what's taught and emphasized.

    What do you mean by eventually? Eventually is a relative term. It can mean days, weeks, months, or years. If after training under an instructor for years and then you realize he is not and never was the right instructor for you can be very disheartening, since you can't get those years back. As for an instructor being perfect, Im glad you get along with your current instructor but the fact of the matter is nobody is perfect. Instructors are human beings and as such all have their faults and weaknesses. Its possible to get a good match but you will never get a 100% perfect match.
     
  4. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    You're right in that it depends on the art/school in regards to what a student can expect out of it and what an instructor is going to expect out of the student. You mention the koryu arts and how they expect you to do and preserve the art exactly as its taught. From what little I've heard about the koryu arts I believe your correct, and that training in the koryu arts is much like being in the military. If you have zero desire to learn kata than it doesn't make sense to train at a dojo and style that teaches kata. It would make more sense to train in styles such as kickboxing or JKD which don't have katas. If you're going to not participate in kata at a dojo that teaches kata than depending on the dojo that could cause issues although other stuff such as partner drills, if you're not performing up to par in those that will probably cause the biggest issues.

    You're right. Although in regard to not having outrageous goals, common sense does play a part in that but a student should also talk to their instructor to know if their goals are outrageous in the first place. As for somebody who wants to lose weight and if they think that doing an hour of cardio kickboxing will do it than they should train somewhere that teaches cardio kickboxing. As for somebody who is having a hard time keeping up, from my experience you train at your own pace and you might or might not keep up with the rest of the class but its done at your own pace. And yes, a student shouldn't skip drills because the instructor has the drills for a reason and the instructor knows better, that is what makes the instructor the instructor and the student the student.

    Goals do change over time and how you deal with them is up to you and thats for you to do although there is no reason why you shouldn't ask your instructor for advice on your goals and advice when your goals change.

    A teacher absolutely should not try to help a student reach their goals by doing stuff at the expense of other students or by lowering their standards but there is no reason why the instructor shouldn't give the student advice or why the student shouldn't be able to ask the instructor for advice at the right time. Its been said here before that a student should shut up and train and I agree with that when you're doing drills, but how about when class isn't running and you aren't doing drills? That would be a good time to ask questions.
     
  5. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    I do agree with that. If Im running a dojo and a student asks me for stuff that's not taught at my dojo or that is outside my standards and principles my advice to them would be to look somewhere else.
     
  6. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    This remind me what had happened when I was in the UT graduate school many years ago.

    One year I was a teaching assistant in UT. My professor wanted me to teach a new assemble language Knuth MIX that just came out that year. I told him that I only learned CDC 6600 assemble language and I don't know MIX. He said, "Nobody in our department knows it. You just have to learn it and teach it at the same time". That whole semester, I had to learn one chapter and taught one chapter. It was a good experience.

    IMO, an instructor can be just a person who know something a bit earlier than his students. How earlier? It can be 50 years, 20 years, 5 years, or just 1 day.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  7. Anarax

    Anarax Black Belt

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    I'm not sure about that. You can't say all the students at a mcdojo have the same motivation. Some are content with not being challenged and are aware of the kind of school that they're enrolled in. Others would leave the mcdojo and study at a better dojo if they were more aware. Unfortunately many mcdojos are good at deceiving people.

    It took me a few 2 years to realize I wasn't studying with the right instructor, but I started cross training during that time. I disagree with you about it being a waste, learning from bad instructors gives you insight on what not to look for in instructors. Meaning, if I look for other instructors in the future I know what the red flags are.

    I bolded "me" in my statement for a reason. I didn't say my instructor is perfect, I said he's perfect for me. Absolutely I can say what is perfect for me, perfect being relative that is. You seem to be interrupting perfect literally.
     
  8. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Purple Belt

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    Yeah some great points there. My first style is what many many people consider a 'McDojo', but honestly I'm so grateful to it, as it was a great stepping stone into my further interest in martial arts, and I actually did enjoy the training, even if it wasn't in great depth. And it really did come down to your instructor, some were just clearly not very dedicated, and others you could see embodied martial arts and absolutely loved it, and therefore the training you'd receive would be of such a higher quality.

    I eventually left to be honest probably because I listened too much to what other people were saying about it, but it definitely served a worthwhile purpose me training there for 2 and a half years or so, and actually did provide me with a great foundation. And others enjoy the training there, even if they're fully aware of the limits of what it provides, they still enjoy it, and even want that, so I reckon go for it :)
     
  9. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    If a student tells me of their goals, I'll help them reach them regardless of what they are. If I do not have the particular expertise needed, I'll hook them up with others who do.

    As an aside to anyone concerned about "goals". Aim high. We'll get you there, but you gotta' aim high.
     
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  10. Mark Lynn

    Mark Lynn Master Black Belt

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    I don't believe that all students should compete, but in my school I do promote competing in tournaments (well at least the 2-3 we go to each year). However I make it clear that tournament participation is not mandatory nor tied to rank in anyway.

    In regards to the diving coach example, if the guy is making a living with his class having that (competing) standard, well who is to say he's not successful or that he is shooting himself in the foot? Competing for some people is very important, so it is a draw for customers. This is why in my area there are several Olympic Style TKD teaching schools. I a had a discussion with a mom who worked three jobs, and asked her extended family for money so her son could go to this qualifying tournament in hopes of making the Olympic team (he was in middle school) (seriously we were in line enrolling our kids in middle school at the time of this discussion). This is why in the front of many schools there are all sorts of trophies, and paint on the windows (and banner ads on the internet) saying Home of this world Champion, State Champion school, etc. etc. Competition drives business for schools in equipment supplies (branding), as well as upgrade programs like competition teams (more money for more classes) as well as private lessons etc. etc. So to be honest if you have a tournament focused school and you attract those students (or more likely their parents) who want to get on that money train then maybe they are doing alright successfully because I sure see it promoted a lot in my area.

    Anyway I teach out of a Rec. Center with about 25-35+ students a month (info to put my comments inn context) with the majority being kids and about 5-10 teens and adults. That being said I always try and find out what a student's or parent's goal when they enroll or come by to check out class. I have several special needs kids, training right alongside of everyone else, as well, so I need to find out what the students/parents goals are so that I can help them meet their needs so I can stay in business. Most kids want to have fun, parents want their kids learning; discipline/respect, socialization, improved coordination, and self defense. Very rarely do I meet competition/tournament seeking parents. For the adults (and now some juniors) my students generally have some sort of prior training in the martial arts and they come looking for something to do, or to learn what I teach in the Filipino Martial Arts. So they are cross training in a sense and the FMAs meet that need.
     
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  11. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    The swimming guy most likely isn’t shooting himself in the foot. If he’s got enough demand, he’ll be fine. He’s probably marketing/promoting himself as THE coach for serious swimmers. Perhaps in his area everyone who’s good knows to go to him to take it to the next level. If my kid is a serious swimmer and is driven by competition and wants to get to the next level, I’d rather have her with a group of like-minded people at the same or higher level instead of being mixed in with the kids who are there recreationally or truly beginners.

    There are sport MA teachers out there who only teach high ranking and seriously competitive MAists. I’m sure the WKF, WTF, ITF, etc. internationally elite competitors don’t take class alongside the 1-2 times a week MAists who are mainly looking for a hobby.

    As long as there’s demand, only taking any certain demographic works. High level, low level, kids, adults, special needs, etc. Not everyone needs to be a jack of all trades to be successful in MA nor anything else. Case in point, there’s a person running a business out of her house about 20 minutes away from me. She takes care of head lice. Pretty slim demographic. She’s getting about $150 a head (no pun intended), has about 6 hair washing sinks, and is reportedly booked solid. How much money could someone make who serves such a small portion of the public? Evidently A LOT. Rumor has it she’s clearing six figures a year.
     
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  12. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    IMNSHO, it's a two-way street. By helping my students achieve their goals, they help me achieve mine.
     
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  13. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    That is a good way to put it, although whether or not there can be mutual help between you and your students reaching each other's goals, that would to some extent depend on what your goals are and what your student's goals are.
     
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  14. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    There has been talk here about students wanting or not wanting to learn kata and if they attend a dojo and train in a style that has kata. Depending on the dojo that might not be much of a problem. For instance, at my first dojo and in my first style that I was really serious about they did teach kata but they only had kata classes on certain days during the week. A student who didn't care to learn kata could simply not show up at those classes.
     
  15. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    We have “kata class” at our dojo too. But that’s definitely not the only time kata is done. Would students who didn’t attend the kata class still learn kata? If not, would they promote without knowing the kata?
     
  16. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Katas were only taught and performed on days when they had kata classes so to learn kata you would have to attend the kata classes. In promotion tests kata played a big role, as a matter of fact most of whether you passed or failed was based on your kata performance so if you didn't learn kata you would never advance past white belt. When students first signed up for lessons they were told that if they wanted to earn rank they would have to go to the kata classes.
     
  17. LandonCarter29

    LandonCarter29 White Belt

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    I think the instructor bears most of the responsibility for the student reaching their goals. That's the instructor's job. They have to find a way to teach and motivate the individual.
     
  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    As a student, I tend to disagree. As an instructor, I agree with the concept, but not the wording. The instructor has a responsibility to the student. But not for whether they reach their goals or not.
     
  19. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Well the student does have to do the work to reach their goals, the instructor can't do the work for them but the instructor should still in my opinion properly guide the student so that the student does reach his or her goals provided the student does the work. Getting from point A to point B when your goal is to get to point B obviously requires work but it also requires guidance, the guidance makes sure that you're going in the direction of point B and not in some other direction.
    Also, do you consider certain goals unreasonable? Lets say the student has a goal of earning a certain rank such as 1st Dan or whatever? How about if the student has the goal of winning in competitions or getting in really good shape?
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Guide, absolutely. My issue was with the phrase "most of the responsibility".
     

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