Teaching beginners lots of moves

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by PhotonGuy, May 6, 2017.

  1. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    While I don't teach Martial Arts (only a beginner at those), I do teach Springboard diving which very much involves a lot of repetition of the basics. Every dive we do consists of 2 basic elements: The jump at the beginning, and the entry into the water at the end of the dive. So we practice the jumps first, over and over again until you can do them without thinking. Then you practice the entry into the water by literally just falling in head-first. Again this is practiced over and over until it is muscle memory. Then you put the 2 elements together to create your basic forward dive. After that, you slowly build on it by adding somersaults and by doing the dives in different directions. But no matter what kind of dive you do, it will always have a jump at the beginning and an entry into the water.

    This can be very boring for new students when you spend 30 minutes each week just doing basic jumps, but they are necessary in order to be able to do the dives properly. I imagine a lot of Martial Arts follow the same principle.
     
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  2. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    I would teach a beginner a good set of basics, enough to be well rounded. As I said in an earlier post, the front kick, side kick, round kick, back kick, reverse punch, jab punch, palm strike, and shuto strike would be good techniques to start with. That's eight techniques and some people would say eight isn't that much but for a beginner to try to gain expertise in all of them I believe they would be spreading themselves too thin. So I would ask the beginner to pick a kick and a hand strike and while working on developing basic proficiency in all of the techniques to focus on the kick and hand strike that works best for them and focus on them more than the other techniques.
     
  3. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I would not give a beginner the option of making a choice. They aren't ready to do that.

    I would decide, this is what you need to work on for now and I will give you something more when I feel you are ready.
     
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  4. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Agreed, on all points.
     
  5. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Well maybe as a yellow or orange belt I would ask them to pick a favorite kick and favorite hand strike and to focus on those. A student finds out what works best for them with experience. As a white belt I might just work on introducing the student to the basics and helping them to develop a basic level of proficiency in them.
     
  6. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    As a teacher you have to ask yourself if you're looking for proficiency or mastery to determine when the student advances to the the next step.
     
  7. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    Expecting mastery of a skill in order to progress is unsustainable in my opinion. When I'm teaching and looking to move someone onto the next step, I look at 2 criteria:

    1. Are they safe moving onto the next step? There's no point in pushing a student to the next step if they are just going to hurt themselves the moment they try. All this will accomplish is scaring the student making them unlikely to want to do the skill in the future.

    2. Will their current skill level heavily hinder their performance of the higher step? Many higher level movements build on simpler techniques, so if there are glaring flaws in the basic technique, those flaws will transfer to the higher level techniques. Left unchecked you'll have a student that has the same basic flaw in all their techniques and you'll have a hell of a time correcting it at that point.

    Ironically, more often than not in trying to push a student too fast, you inevitably slow them down as they will end up hitting a wall (the point where the flaw in their basic technique prevents them from progressing) and you'll have to take them back to the basics anyway.
     
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  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I wouldn't.

    If the student comes to me to learn something, then it is my responsibility to decide what he learns and what he works on and when he is ready for more. Telling to student to decide what he wants to learn from me is piss-poor teaching. The student doesn't know enough to make such a decision, and telling him to focus on his favorites, after teaching him more than he is ready for when he is at a rudimentary level, will undermine the process.

    I had a guitar teacher in college who did just that. "So what kind of things do you want to work on?" Um I want to learn to play guitar you idiot, where do I start, what is the progression? The whole semester was like that. Needless to say, I learned nothing from him.
     
  9. clfsean

    clfsean Senior Master

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    In a simple word, no.
     
  10. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    The laissez faire approach to teaching (the whole "do what you want" style of teaching) is generally reserved for higher level students. At the Martial Arts club I train at, most of the classes are very controlled with the instructor dictating everything that is going on. However, after some classes there is an optional "supplementary training" half an hour session for senior students, where the instructor just let's us get on with it and do what we want, within reason of course. Most of the time we use this extra session to practice our higher level forms that we didn't get a chance to do during the main class. This works well for the senior students who all have individual things they want to work on but complete beginners wouldn't gain anything from a session like this.
     
  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yup, context matters.
     
  12. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Agreed on that most people especially younger students will want to do things they're good at so say one guy is great at roundhouse kicks and you ask that he'll say he wants to do roundhouse kicks because it makes him look better because he can do what he's good at and look good as opposed to looking bad
     
  13. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    It wasn't until around orange belt that I was told to pick a favorite technique to work on but that's just the way I was taught. You wouldn't ask a white belt to pick a favorite technique, you would teach them the basics. I've taken guitar lessons and when I first started out I was not asked what I wanted to learn, it was obvious I wanted to learn to play the guitar so I was taught the basic stuff such as the parts of the guitar and their definitions, how to hold the guitar, how to hold the pick, how to tune the guitar, the letters of the strings and so forth. A more advanced guitar student might want to work on a specific skill such as cords but somebody who is just starting out needs to learn the rudiments. Same thing with a martial arts student, I would certainly not ask a student on their first day to pick a favorite move, rather I would teach them the fundamentals, how to stand, how to move in a stance, the basic kicks and strikes and so forth. After a student gains a certain level of proficiency with all that I might then ask them to pick a favorite technique. As I said it was around the time I was an orange belt that I was told that.

    Anyway, the point is that somebody who devotes most of their time to just one or two techniques is going to me much more effective than somebody who tries to spread their training over many techniques. Somebody who practices just the front kick and reverse punch and does so tens of thousands of times is going to be much more effective than somebody with 100 moves.
     
  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I agree with you so I'm not quite sure what the debate is.

    I guess it's the issue of teaching a lot of stuff to a beginner and then letting him choose, vs simply teaching at a slower pace to give a student time to develop some actual skill and understanding with the material, before giving more. Don't give him things to distract him, when he is not ready for it.

    But where the boundaries lie is open for debate.
     
  15. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Once had a teacher had me stay at the school all day and I learned some Long fist, taijiquan, taiji sword, shaolin sword, shaolin staff and some bagua... now I was not a beginner.... I was actually one of his teachers, and I have to tell you...I pretty much remembered none of it, other than what I learned in the last class that day, which was bagua.
     
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  16. Hyoho

    Hyoho Black Belt

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    In Japan practice starts with the first fundamental move. Then after a few hours and nearing the end Sensei will apologise to all the students for not having covered anything else. With old schools it's always the prerogative of Sensei for "all" to do basics all the time or alternatively cover the many waza. I have watched one school go through three headmasters and see it on a down at the moment as all the waza are covered and not enough fundamentals.

    One might not think one is progressing not to mention the fact that it's a bit boring doing one thing again and again. Most of all beginners might not last long. We have to do something interesting now and then to peak their interest. One might think basics give little progression but when you finally are allowed to move on its truly amazing to be able to do almost anything having that basic knowledge and ability.

    I did one waza for seven years before I was allowed to move on.

    I can't speak for other countries but Japans success is grounded in the fact that everything is based on repetition.
     
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  17. KangTsai

    KangTsai 2nd Black Belt

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    I think devoting 30 minutes every class to introduce a new move/straregy isn't overwhelming at all. That's how it worked for me.
     
  18. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    It depends how long the class is, I've know classes which are only 45 minutes and other like ours which are 2 hours long.
     
  19. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    If I understand you correctly, it is pretty much how we were taught in the TKD I learned many years ago. What JowGaWolf mentions are simpy variations to several basic kicks. One learns them along the way.
     
  20. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    I haven't read this whole thread, but sort of bounced around in it. Interesting to see the different opinions and their reasoning.

    From my experience, there should be no favorite technique. I want to learn all techniques equally well. If I choose to focus, it will be on a technique I don't feel I have mastered.

    In the Hapkido I studied, when testing, one had to do a certain amount from each set of techniques taught. Each student was allowed to use whatever techniques he wished. I saw a lot of students practice and then pick easy techniques. I refused to do that. I didn't pick techniques. When my practice partner attacked, I used the technique that came to mind. I didn't try to think of it. I just reacted.

    For me that was the only way I thought made sense. YMMV
     

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