Teaching styles and methods


Master of Arts
Dec 13, 2011
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Hi folks,

I'm thinking about different teaching methodologies. I moved from the UK to Germany last year, and the teaching style here is different to the UK. I've moved from a club where the focus was more on explanation along with the demonstrations, whereas here in Munich it's demonstration with no explanation, and then trial and error with corrections.

Both approaches have their pros and cons - what kind of balance of demo versus talk do you guys prefer? What's the benefit?

I'm certainly feeling the fitness benefits of less talk time.

I have always tried to bring presentation and teaching skills from my work (trainer) into my martial arts teaching style. Over time my information delivery has gone from explanation and analysis heavy, to minimalist directions with the emphasis on the trainee learning by doing. The German approach is working out well for me.

Maybe it's to do with getting impatient in my old age, but I'm really finding that people talk too much when presenting. I struggle to sit through a Youtube tutorial for anything without skipping to the technical demonstration. The rest is usually just waffle, and I find myself wanting to pull out my own eyeballs while screaming 'Get to the point!!'. Is that just me?

Does anyone else bring teaching techniques and methodologies from outside the martial arts into their instruction?
If so, what, and how do you find that it works? Does it transfer well to martial arts?
Have you found anything that has worked especially well?
How do you adjust your teaching style for different audiences e.g. adults, kids, teens, male, female, 40+?

Look forward to your views, thanks



Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Apr 12, 2005
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The Desert
I prefer to give direction with demonstration, though I tend to over do it if I don't check myself. One always has to be careful to not let the class go into "cool down" mode because you're talking them to death. Regardless, I do prefer to offer the "why" we do things the way we do which of course can only be offered verbally. I also prefer to engage the class instead of just talking at them. It helps me gauge their mind set. Many times when we explain things, the person(s) we're talking to are on a completely different level of understanding. If you engage them and solicit feedback as your teaching, you can pick that up and adjust quickly. As a PM, one of the most important aspects of my job is to make sure people I'm addressing stay on point with me and if necessary, "Chunk up or down" to make sure to find the point of separation when seeking understanding. In martial arts, I find people tend to agree simply because I'm the master and they don't want to appear argumentative. I will not move on without acceptance because leading doesn't matter if no one is following.

My own instructor was completely the opposite. He feels that each students needs to find their own way...think through things. While I like his concept and it proved effective for the most part, it also has its own drawbacks. I sometimes missed things that were more subtle or drew the wrong conclusions. Nothing is worse than learning something the wrong way and then have to unlearn it. Often, students would leave because they couldn't be bothered making the effort. Probably better for everyone. That's what separates us from say Wednesday night Volleyball-do.