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

_Simon_

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That certainly applied to me. I joined the Martial Arts out of a fascination from watching various Martial Arts films, but I didn't have any specific goals in mind. While training I swapped between various goals. First I did it just for fitness, then my focus switched to weapons, then I wanted to compete in kickboxing. This all happened in the space of a year and I know I probably infuriated my instructor with all the times I changed my mind about things I wanted out of the training. After trying to focus on so many different things I still couldn't find a good goal for myself and lost interest completely. Maybe if I had been at a different school I might have found a goal worth pursuing more, but I don't know for sure and I don't want to blame my instructor for my own self-delusions and eventual loss of interest.

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...
 
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PhotonGuy

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Interesting question. The instructor finding out the students motivation to why they want to study is a good idea. However; I don't think the instructor should be expected to tailor the training for the rest of the class for that one individual.
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.

There's also a reasonable approach people need to take when searching for an instructor. For example; I'm not going to a mcdojo to train for a professional fight.
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.

There's is a certain level of communication that should be expected between student and instructor. Meaning if I want to improve a certain aspect of my training(self-defense, kicks, blocks, punches, etc), and the instructor teaches a style that teaches those aspects, he/she should be able to help with that. Teaching you drills, giving you pointers on your technique, etc.
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.

People have different motivation for studying martial arts, thus there's an instructor for each type of group. Knowing what group you belong to and knowing the characteristics to look for in an instructor for that group is the challenging part.
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.

Speaking from experience, I've had instructors that I eventually realized weren't for me. Realizing that and moving on is the best thing you can do. Now I have an instructor that I know is perfect for me. If I stayed with my previous instructor I would have missed out on the great training I've received from my current instructor.
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.
 
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PhotonGuy

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It really depends on the art/school. If Im not mistaken, the goal of koryu arts seem to be to preserve the art as its been taught to you, and pass it along as unchanged as humanly possible. Koryu people here surely have more insight.

Everyones got their own goals. The best thing someone could do in this regard is make those goals known to the CI at the beginning, and see if their own goals will be effectively met by the prospective school and teacher.

Several people in the other thread commented along the lines of I dont care about the teachers goals, my goals are the ones that matter. True. However, if your personal goals are counter to the schools goals, or at the least detract from the overall flow of the school, then thats no good. Lets say I join a dojo that does kata, but I have zero desire to learn kata. If I go through the motions and do them with the bare minimum effort to not distract the group, no big deal. If Im standing there and not participating during kata, basically picking and choosing what Im going to do, thats going to cause issues. Forget about promoting and ranks, as its truly irrelevant here.
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.

Should a teacher help each student meet his/her own personal goals? Absolutely. So long as theyre not outrageous goals and so long as they dont change what everyone else is doing. Everyone shouldnt have to do an hourlong cardio kickboxing class because one guys goal is to lose 20 lbs of body fat this month. The whole group shouldnt have to slow down because one guy doesnt think the pace of the class is conducive to his learning a specific thing. Someone shouldnt consistently sit out of drills he doesnt think are of any real value.
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.

Also keep in mind that peoples goals change. At 41, my current goals arent what they were when I was 21. And they wont be the same when Im 61. Hell, my goals this month arent exactly what they were last month. My teacher is supposed to keep up with my changing goals? And the ever-changing goals of everyone else? All at the same time?
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.

The teacher should absolutely try to help the student reach their goals. But not at the expense of everything else. Somehow, the people who try to please everyone by giving them all everything they want dont get very far.
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.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Yeah some great points have been made. That's the thing, of course the student is training for their own reasons/intentions/ motives and goals. And it's silly to train for another's. But at the same time, it can be a bit arrogant to say what a dojo should 'give me', and to expect something that's outside of the dojo's standards and principles of what it's about. An instructor can only go so far, and will help as much as possible (usually).
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.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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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.
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.
 
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Anarax

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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.
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.

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.
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.

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.
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.
 

_Simon_

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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.

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 :)
 

Buka

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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.
 

Mark Lynn

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What is your opinion on insisting all students compete? I know a spring board diving coach that expects all their students to compete at least to a regional (state) level in order to be in their class. I personally feel they are setting an unreasonable expectation and shooting themselves in the foot from a business stand point.

The sad reality is that a training school or club of any kind needs to make money, and to make money you need students. If you set your standards so high that you don't get enough students, you aren't going to survive.

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.
 

JR 137

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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.
The swimming guy most likely isnt shooting himself in the foot. If hes got enough demand, hell be fine. Hes probably marketing/promoting himself as THE coach for serious swimmers. Perhaps in his area everyone whos 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, Id 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. Im sure the WKF, WTF, ITF, etc. internationally elite competitors dont take class alongside the 1-2 times a week MAists who are mainly looking for a hobby.

As long as theres 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, theres a person running a business out of her house about 20 minutes away from me. She takes care of head lice. Pretty slim demographic. Shes 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 shes clearing six figures a year.
 

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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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PhotonGuy

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

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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.
 

JR 137

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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.
We have kata class at our dojo too. But thats definitely not the only time kata is done. Would students who didnt attend the kata class still learn kata? If not, would they promote without knowing the kata?
 
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PhotonGuy

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We have kata class at our dojo too. But thats definitely not the only time kata is done. Would students who didnt attend the kata class still learn kata? If not, would they promote without knowing the kata?
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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
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.
 
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PhotonGuy

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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.
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?
 

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