Trying to balance out specialized classes

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by skribs, Oct 3, 2020.

  1. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    BLUF: How do I balance out specialized classes that teach widely different skill sets, to offer a similar progression as each other?

    Background: As many of you may know, my current school is big on memorization, something I'm not overly fond of. To that effort, I've been trying to develop my own curriculum for when I eventually create my own school. This is becoming less and less of an academic exercise (as it was several years ago) and more and more of a plan.

    I started with a comprehensive curriculum, which covers most of what I know. The problem with this is two-fold:
    1. It may take longer than I'd like for students to reach Black Belt. Since there are timers on progression after black belt, I don't want to needlessly set their career behind compared to students from other schools.
    2. Not everyone enjoys every aspect of Taekwondo. Most of the teenagers only care about sparring, most of the adults either like the forms or the self-defense (they like sparring, but would prefer to use more techniques than WT allows).
    To this end, I've come up with my newest idea: a core curriculum that serves as a casual introduction to the different aspects of Taekwondo, which would be your progression through the colored belt. Specialized classes focusing on forms, sparring, self-defense, or demonstration would be elective content for colored belts, but progression through these would be required for Dan ranks.

    This would be similar to having a high school which is a general diploma, and then college courses that let you choose a Major. In keeping with the idea of college classes, I decided to use a credit system. 1 credit for completing the introductory period of a specialized class, and more credits for various milestones, up to 5 credits which is a mastery of that class. I might require 1 total credit to get your black belt, 4 credits for 2nd Dan, 9 credits for 3rd Dan, 16 credits for 4th Dan. (Numbers are obviously subject to change, as this idea is in its infancy).

    However, I run into a few problems. These classes are widely different in scope and design. The forms class is very linear, and has objective measures of progress (how well do you know the forms). The other classes have objective metrics (do you understand the concepts) and subjective metrics (how well can you apply them). They're subjective, because you're always training with a partner. The other classes may evolve as I learn more. The demonstration class will certainly evolve with creative input from the students.

    And then there's simply the scope. There's a lot of forms to learn for the forms class, that's easy to look at. Sparring has a few concepts that take time to master. Self-defense has many more concepts, because it covers a wide variety of techniques and situations. These aren't problems by themselves, until you get to my goals:

    1. Credits are objectively earned
    2. Earning 5 credits in a class means you've mastered it
    3. Earning 5 credits in each class takes roughly the same amount of time
    4. All classes are 5 credits
    These credits are used for black-belt progression, so I want them to be clearly defined and meaningful. At the same time, I want classes to be balanced with each other. Let's say I have 2 years worth of content for sparring, 5 years for forms, and 8 years for self-defense. I don't want everyone to ignore self-defense and choose sparring because you can get your credits in 2 years instead of 8. I also don't want everyone to ignore sparring and choose self-defense because you can get 8 credits instead of 2. I also don't want you to earn 5 credits in 5 years in both, with the assumption that you're only roughly 60% through the self-defense course when you earn your 5 credits.

    This leads me to the following options (as I see them):
    1. Find some way to balance these out so my goals are met (working on it, not having any luck).
    2. Subjectively grant credits. More difficult for students to understand when they can get their credit, but allows me more flexibility.
    3. Have a consistent time frame to earn 5 credits, even if some of the curriculum comes after.
    4. Grant credits specifically based on time, instead of by objective (or even subjective) measures. Hope they master the curriculum along the way.
    5. Have 5 credits for learning the whole curriculum, even if it means some classes earn credits faster.
    6. Have enough credits for the expected time to complete the curriculum, even if some classes can earn more credits.
    7. Drop the credit system and find some other way to make specialized classes work for advancement (haven't worked on it yet, but that may be my next step)
    8. Drop the entire concept of specialized classes as your black belt requirement (which I could simply do by reverting to the comprehensive curriculum I'm still working on as an option).
    It seems like a simple problem, but for the way I want to design this curriculum, I think it falls apart if I can't balance it out. The gamer in me wants to see these things balanced. I don't want any students to feel they have to game the system to progress faster, nor do I want any of them to feel cheated if their option ends up being slower. What I want to do is create a system where students have options based on what they want to do, and that their educational goals would be the biggest reason for making their choices (instead of how fast they can progress).
     
  2. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    i think your trying to put objective tests on a subjective skill set, thats always going to go wrong and if theres a system to be gamed , people will always game it, always

    what exactly is self defence and how are you going to measure mastery of it, why are forms in anyway comparable in importance if fighting and or self defence is your goal, forms are either a composite of these two, or they are not in which case what are they exactly ?

    set a critia for black belt, you must be able to do this, this and that, when you can you can have a blackbelt untill then your cant.

    if all you want to do is forms then yoyr not getting one, so man up or push off
     
  3. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    The criteria for black belt comes from the core class.

    If self-defense is your goal, and forms aren't important to you, then the forms don't matter as much to you. This is exactly why I want to break the curriculum down into specialized classes. So that the person can spend more time on self-defense if that is their goal. I want them to be comparable to each other, because what I don't want is this:
    • Student takes forms class: 8 years (from start) to get to 3rd Dan
    • Student takes sparring class: 6 years (from start) to get 3rd Dan
    • Student takes self-defense class: 12 years (from start) to get 3rd Dan
    I know that "belts don't matter", but it does if you're trying to open your own school.
     
  4. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    but tour student who has spent 8 years doing form has spent 8 years doing forms, he is good at form probably but thats it, why does he deserve a third dan for 8 years of dance class

    wont people who have invested blood , sweat and tears thing their belt has been diminished by having them wear it, i would ?

    either run a club where every one get a prize, or making the hoghrer level elite so they mean something
     
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  5. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Core subjects and electives.



    so foe example.


    Screenshot_20200607-165302_Chrome.jpg

    So you can do all of them, or say if you just wanted to be a bjj black belt you do some of them.

    And maybe make some sparring or open mat core.
     
  6. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I think BJJ is a little bit different, for a few reasons:
    1. The elective classes you have are truly elective. They are different aspects of fighting, but aren't specifically BJJ. The elective classes I have are actually different aspects of TKD. For example, it would be like if TKD were math, and the classes I'm offering are Geometry, Algebra, Advanced Arithmetic, and Statistics. For BJJ to have boxing classes and such, it's more like that Literature and Math elective that you need to have for your Psychology degree.
    2. Don't forget to skew the rank. In this example, the core class would get you a BJJ Purple Belt (because a BJJ Purple Belt is roughly the same amount of training as a TKD Black Belt), and the electives would be required for getting Brown Belt and Black Belt (roughly the equivalent of 2nd and 3rd degree in TKD)
     
  7. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    If you were really clever Mabye some sort of points system. Where you might need to rack up five points in kata but only three in self defense or something.
     
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  8. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    ...that's the credit system I was talking about.
     
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  9. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    It sounds very much like schools who use tons of stripes, pins, patches and such to award incremental promotion between belts. Plus it sounds like a very, very fractured approach where a person could get pretty far along but have big gaps in their training. Some of this could be from unfamiliar semantics on my part.
    Martial arts training that wants to hold on to any amount of traditionalism has to be balanced. For example, if you had a large group of teens and tweeners who only focused on the sparring component the result would probably be a bunch of cocky kids prone to getting in fights and trouble. That is very bad for them and a very bad reflection on your new school.

    As Jobo said, if you have a group of more mature adults who only focus on forms, that would only be okay IF the class/program was promoted as a form of exercise. I know there would be other benefits but if you are promoting your business as a TMA, that would be hard to reconcile.

    drop bear 's gym has a good looking, 6 day/week full time schedule. I think we would both agree it is not a TMA program by design. You would have to hear it from him but I am guessing the short 45 minute kids class is largely basic training and introduction into the training elements for when they age out or mature out so they can move into the flow of the regular schedules. So it sounds like a very different model from yours.

    My opinion is if you truly think you have so much material that you cannot balance the equation and bring people up teaching a comprehensive curriculum then some things need shedding. Then you can always have the 'specialist' like drop bear does for fighting for those who warrant it.

    Question: Are you trying to fracture things in an attempt to reduce class/instructor loading and make things more "efficient"? If so, you are going too far IMHO.

    FWIW, I Strongly adhere to the KISS principle.
     
  10. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    It's actually the opposite. My more comprehensive curriculum has a lot more belts in it.

    Strongly disagree. Otherwise kids who take sport-focused arts like boxing, MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai, etc. would be cocky kids prone to getting in fights and trouble. While people like @drop bear are certainly prone to provoke arguments online, I hardly believe that he's provoking fights IRL.

    Wait, are you saying that the forms are basically exercise and have no martial value?

    The problem is, if I were to shed stuff, I'd start shedding the things that make it Taekwondo, especially World Taekwondo. I'd drop the forms, drop the 1-steps, drop some of the flashier techniques, drop the kick-fencing sparring, and focus on what works.

    The problem is that my rank is in TKD and my competitions are in TKD. I'm too old to start a career in kickboxing or MMA to get any kind of record I could advertise. What I'm left with is either TKD without forms and WT sparring (which are pretty much the requirements from KKW), or I can call it Kickboxing and not have any credentials to back that up.

    Or I could just do forms and sparring, but I feel if I do that, I'm running a McDojo, and I'm not teaching the most valuable knowledge I have.

    I quoted this out of order, because it's a continuation of my last point.

    I have no issue with @drop bear 's gym. In fact, it's the type of gym I'd love to train at if I decided to drop TKD. Heck, it's the type of gym I'd love to cross-train at if I had some spare time from TKD. (Although if I'm running my own school several days a week, I probably couldn't, since I wouldn't be in the Pro class or the Women's Self-Defense Class).

    In fact, I could see myself breaking down the practical concepts like his gym. Striking class, throwing class, weapons class, self-defense concepts class. But then what am I but someone teaching kickboxing without a record, and a first-degree teaching Hapkido, which is an art that's already hard to draw in a crowd because of it's obscurity.

    That's what I'm trying to do. The KISS principle is to keep it simple for the students and instructors. Because if I don't separate this into a core class, I feel the stuff all has to go into the main class. I can't justify to myself just doing forms and sparring, and I can't justify on an advertisement why I'm not doing forms and sparring.

    The other thing I'm considering is simply to quit TKD and join a BJJ gym that also has kickboxing or Muay Thai. I'd be starting over at white belt. It would certainly be a lot less pressure on me than what I have now, or what I'd have if I open my own school. (I actually wonder if opening my own school would be less pressure, because then I'd at least have creative control). But if I want to capitalize on my training so far, it has to be TKD.
     
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  11. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I know some people that have both house dans and KKW dans in their school. The KKW rank has less material but might require some travel to be tested by an examiner with the appropriate qualifications. It seems confusing to me, but I suppose some people might see a reason to use such a system.
     
  12. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I assume it goes one of two ways:
    1. Starts with the in-house Dan, and then they add in the KKW Dan for name recognition
    2. They have both so they can charge you double for belt tests
     
  13. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    The school I am thinking of has a competition team. The comp team just works sparring and poomsae. They don't do any of the self-defense, etc. So they don't test for the house dan which has a lot more material. I don't think there is any real money ulterior motive there.
     
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  14. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Ah, that makes sense.

    I guess that's another way to do it (except maybe I'd go in the opposite direction). Core class of sparring and poomsae, and an elective class for demonstration and self-defense.

    The only problem I have with that is there are some forms that I enjoy, but wouldn't be able to fit that in if the core class is focused on what is required for WT competition...
     
  15. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 2nd Black Belt

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    What credentials do you think you need? I ask because I hear lots of martial arts people talk about that, but almost never here a prospective student or parent bring it up unless I introduce the topic.

    IMO, if you’re advertising using you’re “credentials,” you need a better business plan.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I think the majority of schools do in house promotion/certificates for Gup grading. Especially at startup I think it would be very hard to have in house Dan promotions.
     
  17. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    But adding more belts would be the same as using stars/stripes, etc... would it not? Either way you are just creating more checkpoints (and more testing fees?) for a person to navigate.

    Not for most and especially not for someone who is seriously thinking about teaching. But many of our older students who are only concerned with fitness see them that way, and we promote them as such. All the fundamental SD skills within poomsae are covered but not as big a deal if they are not as fully mastered for our 45-60 year old's who aren't going to promote to a high(er) Dan anyway. Transference to sparring can be a bit ambiguous I suppose but the ones that get it really get it. As we have discussed, not as overt in the KKW forms but it is there.
    I grow more convinced everyday it has more to do with How they are taught and presented than anything else.
    You have mentioned your dislike of memorization based training. Maybe this is part of your dislike with KKW forms; that you are not learning them as several skills placed in a pattern. Just a thought.
     
  18. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    What else do you advertise based on? People want to learn from a legitimate martial artist. That means high rank (in a belt system) and/or good record (in a sport system). Either that, or they want something like a former Special Forces Operative or SWAT member (someone who has the resume that suggests they're a badass).

    It all balances out. If I didn't do this, I'd have even more to learn at each belt (which might get overwhelming) and I'd have to charge more in tuition to make up for it.

    I do like memorization, to a point. It's all about moderation. My classes are basically 90% going over the memorized content. I want to keep it around 25%.

    Edit: It's more like 60%. I wasn't thinking about sparring or the kicking drills we do. Still, I'd rather get it down to 15-25% instead of the majority of the training.
     
  19. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I get the 'it balances out' , and I know it has a lot to do with what a person is accustomed to. I do see merit in stars/stripes for kids. But I would expect most adults want a more streamlined, clear path from point A to point B. In other words, they do not need all the incremental awards. At the Very most a belt for every gup grade, but for me even that is too much. I like the idea of green/blue and red/brown wearing their color for a while, maybe getting a stripe here and there. It shows 'stick-to-it-ness'. It is financially efficient as well, unless you are in it more for the money.;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2020
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  20. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    For me, it's not about the incremental awards. It's about unlocking the next part of the curriculum. Learning a martial art is like drinking from a firehose. There's just so much information. The belts aren't to give incremental successes. The belts are to give you bite-sized chunks of the curriculum, so you're not trying to stuff an entire watermelon in your mouth.123
     
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