Martial Arts Goals and Obstacles

Gyakuto

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I did the survey my goal is to be a black belt and be an instructor and the obstacle was COVID really
What is it about being a ‘black belt’ and being an instructor that you find so alluring? Black belt is a completely arbitrary point in ones ‘journey’ albeit one with a very public and visual one (a black belt around ones waist). And being an instructor is a sure way of degrading ones technique since you don’t have the time for personal practise, especially if you’re working full-time and have other commitments. I used to find the continual stream of beginners, the intensive effort one puts into their learning and then their inevitable leaving after a few weeks, extremely frustrating and deleterious to my skills. The high grades in my dojo used to rotate the teaching duties to mitigate this effect, but we still ended up ’paying to teach others’ who never practised between sessions and never made any progress! My day job was as a university lecturer so the ‘prestige’ of teaching MA held no allure for me. I am now having a personal and private dojo built in my garden and I will not be teaching anyone!😀
 

MadMartigan

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And being an instructor is a sure way of degrading ones technique since you don’t have the time for personal practise, especially if you’re working full-time and have other commitments.
While this was your experience; I have found the complete opposite to be true for me.

On a technical level, teaching has given a deeper understanding of every aspect of what I'm also learning. I needed to understand the move; not just in my way of learning it... but also how to explain it to someone who learns completely differently than me. It never degraded my technique. It made it better than I ever would have been without it. (Note: This is in reference to technical knowledge and understanding; not in the context of training for a specific type of professional competition).

After moving away from my home club (where I taught several nights/week) for work; I struggled considerably to continue training for and by myself. It took years to learn that (for me) teaching gave me a reason to train. Once I had a commitment to students who would be showing up; I was able to follow through with prioritizing class time. This then reignited my interest in practicing outside of class again and pursuing new styles to cross train in as well.

Some people don't like teaching... so they shouldn't teach... nothing wrong with that. There is more than 1 type of person out there though; and for some, teaching is exactly what gives training meaning.
 

Yokozuna514

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What is it about being a ‘black belt’ and being an instructor that you find so alluring? Black belt is a completely arbitrary point in ones ‘journey’ albeit one with a very public and visual one (a black belt around ones waist). And being an instructor is a sure way of degrading ones technique since you don’t have the time for personal practise, especially if you’re working full-time and have other commitments. I used to find the continual stream of beginners, the intensive effort one puts into their learning and then their inevitable leaving after a few weeks, extremely frustrating and deleterious to my skills. The high grades in my dojo used to rotate the teaching duties to mitigate this effect, but we still ended up ’paying to teach others’ who never practised between sessions and never made any progress! My day job was as a university lecturer so the ‘prestige’ of teaching MA held no allure for me. I am now having a personal and private dojo built in my garden and I will not be teaching anyone!😀

While this was your experience; I have found the complete opposite to be true for me.

On a technical level, teaching has given a deeper understanding of every aspect of what I'm also learning. I needed to understand the move; not just in my way of learning it... but also how to explain it to someone who learns completely differently than me. It never degraded my technique. It made it better than I ever would have been without it. (Note: This is in reference to technical knowledge and understanding; not in the context of training for a specific type of professional competition).

After moving away from my home club (where I taught several nights/week) for work; I struggled considerably to continue training for and by myself. It took years to learn that (for me) teaching gave me a reason to train. Once I had a commitment to students who would be showing up; I was able to follow through with prioritizing class time. This then reignited my interest in practicing outside of class again and pursuing new styles to cross train in as well.

Some people don't like teaching... so they shouldn't teach... nothing wrong with that. There is more than 1 type of person out there though; and for some, teaching is exactly what gives training meaning.
I can see both of these points of view. As an instructor, you do give a lot of your 'class' time and effort into teaching others the way of your art. If the class is full of beginners the time spent observing and correcting can take up the majority of your time. When the class makeup becomes more advanced, you can spend your time observing and correcting as well but hopefully you can also spend more time advancing your own skills practicing (eg: setting the example). The time is what you make of it especially if you are leading the class, imho. My experience is that the people that want to learn from you, will. They will observe, practice and emulate the example you set. I do accept that this takes a level of time and care to cultivate this setting and that is definitely time away from personal practice in the service of others.

I agree with D Hall in terms of the outlook to teaching. It has made me look for the deeper understanding of the movements so that I can demonstrate and explain to other students. Consequently, I spend more time in personal practice outside of class time. I do realize that note everyone has this time but we also tend to prioritize the things we feel are important. I have gone out of my way to set up practice times for students that are NOT very accommodating. In this way I know that the ones that do show up are there to learn because why else would you get up for a 7:00 am Friday morning class or even better a Sunday morning 8:30 am class. If you are coming to these classes you know the training will be hard and there will not be a lot of talking. If you want a kinder and gentler class, come during the regular scheduled times where everyone is allowed to train regardless for their reason to be there.
 

isshinryuronin

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the intensive effort one puts into their learning and then their inevitable leaving after a few weeks

It never degraded my technique. It made it better than I ever would have been without it.
These are the two sides of the coin. I certainly understand Gyakuto's feelings - I've been there. Besides the time and effort spent in teaching, there is also a certain emotional investment (for some teachers.) It's a letdown when it yields no return and seems to be a waste - My time and skill are valuable! And not every empty cup is waiting to be filled.

On the other hand, I agree with D Hall. When teaching, you are extra aware of how you are executing a technique, wanting to demo it as correctly as possible. And when explaining it, I have "rediscovered" some basic principle, or even seen the technique in a whole new light.

By viewing the lesson from the second perspective, even if the relationship fails, I take away some benefit. And if it's successful, the overall satisfaction and return outweigh the risk - for me. As D went on to say, everyone is different. Between these two perspectives, there is no right or wrong.
 

Hanshi

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I did the survey and found simple answers did not really explain the questions fully.

I started as a kid, had periods when there was no instructor then had periods when I found myself in the martial arts "horn of plenty". I was very fortunate that training $$ were very modest or basically free. I also was blessed with some of the best teachers extant (world class). I had quite a few injuries and some kept me from training for a while.

The reasons I started in the first place were complex and varied. When I opened my own storefront dojo I loved teaching and the satisfaction was immeasurable. Teaching never affected my own training since I did everything the class did and lead them through drills. I semi-retired in 2008 and fully retired some 10 years later. It's been tough trying to stay in shape as my rheumatoid arthritis worsens and no classes or training partners. But martial arts has become my identity after more than 60 years of learning.

I've made so many friends in the martial arts that it justifies all the work and sacrifice. My legacy are my students who's lives have been enriched and especially those who've gone on to become teachers in their own right. Not bad, IMHO, for a dude with little in the way of athletic talent but the willingness to train hard and long for a little bit of gain.
 

Gyakuto

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Perhaps the nature of learning swordsmanship is to be introspective and that’s why ‘thinking about a technique to teach’ it isn’t as relevant. We tend to spend our time looking at things such as how altering the point along the foot one pivots upon, facilitates a particular move… minutiae! I marvel at how our discipline attracts any beginners, in all honesty…it’s rather boring unless you‘rev a geek!

My last teacher‘s pedagogic technique was to say, “Just follow me”, and he’d practise in front of us, we’d follow and 30minutes later he turn around and give very general feedback to the whole group and we’d be left wondering, “Is he referring to me when he says that?” It was wholly inadequate for learners like me but he got to do lots of repetitions which I think was his strategy! I note he never had any high-graded people in his dojo as a consequence…which is the way he liked it, I think!
 
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Damien

Damien

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What is it about being a ‘black belt’ and being an instructor that you find so alluring? Black belt is a completely arbitrary point in ones ‘journey’ albeit one with a very public and visual one (a black belt around ones waist). And being an instructor is a sure way of degrading ones technique since you don’t have the time for personal practise, especially if you’re working full-time and have other commitments. I used to find the continual stream of beginners, the intensive effort one puts into their learning and then their inevitable leaving after a few weeks, extremely frustrating and deleterious to my skills. The high grades in my dojo used to rotate the teaching duties to mitigate this effect, but we still ended up ’paying to teach others’ who never practised between sessions and never made any progress! My day job was as a university lecturer so the ‘prestige’ of teaching MA held no allure for me. I am now having a personal and private dojo built in my garden and I will not be teaching anyone!😀
I know that feeling. I used to teach kung fu in a university, so even the most dedicated students were only around for a few years. It can get pretty tiring seeing everyone rotate out. On the plus side, you get to go over basics a lot. No basics, no kung fu as my old instructor used to say!

I think it is true that teaching gives you a better understanding of things though. It's probably more useful at a higher level, as often the basics are pretty straight forward. On the flip side though, being able to explain something to a complete beginner and explain to them why you are doing it, and how it will fit in later is a skill that really helps you understand the bigger picture too.
 

Gyakuto

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I know that feeling. I used to teach kung fu in a university, so even the most dedicated students were only around for a few years. It can get pretty tiring seeing everyone rotate out. On the plus side, you get to go over basics a lot. No basics, no kung fu as my old instructor used to say!

I think it is true that teaching gives you a better understanding of things though. It's probably more useful at a higher level, as often the basics are pretty straight forward. On the flip side though, being able to explain something to a complete beginner and explain to them why you are doing it, and how it will fit in later is a skill that really helps you understand the bigger picture too.
Perhaps it’s a little heartening to think that your students go on to practise elsewhere when their academic studies finish.

Yes basics are important, but there comes a point one wishes to attend to and enjoy the advanced stuff! ;)

Perhaps I’m just one of life’s ruminators, but I understand things better when thinking about them in my daily life as I’m often considering techniques as I’m going about my daily activities…’would a greater turning angle facilitate the following movement?’ <tries it> ‘oh yes! I’m bloody good’…😀

I found that teaching MA ‘took away a little piece of me’ each time I engaged in it. When you tell a student for the umpteenth time that their back foot should be parallel to the direction of travel and they and they can’t comply beyond the repetition they’ve just completed…:rolleyes: Then they come back the following week, clearly having not practised you have to wonder if it’s worth the effort. I was paying my weekly subs to teach other people who would turn up for 3 weeks and then leave! MA are just not for some people. I’m rubbish at figure skating! Teaching MA is no longer for me, although I once really enjoyed it…but I recognised it was an ego-thing and it made me feel ‘special’. The novelty eventually wore off.

When I train in the future, in my personal dojo, I can attend to the minutiae of my movements, I have a video camera recording my clumsy movements for later review, a mirror to monitor myself and uninterrupted training for as long as I wish! Without having to teach, after decades, I’m improving again!:oops:
 

Diagen

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It should be assumed that everyone's goal is to defeat everyone, become the strongest, protect what they wish to, and not die. Also, every moment carries the weight of obstacles and enemies to defeat. Maybe it would be more productive to start fighting each other now. 👿
 
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