Welcoming transfer students

skribs

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I recently moved, tried out a new school, and didn't really connect with it. That story is in another thread, but the TL;DR is that there was so much about the school for me to learn that I struggled to feel useful as an instructor. It cemented for me opinions I had of other students who had come to my old school already at a high rank, and their struggles to fit in. As I prepare my plans for my own school, one thing that I've kept in mind lately is not just "How would a student react to X", but also, "How would an instructor react to X" and "How would a transfer student react to X?"

As such, I have tried to keep to a minimum extra things that might make it difficult for an instructor to keep track of the entire curriculum, or things in which a transfer student might feel self-conscious about. Some ideas I have regarding this:

  1. Minimize the rituals. The school I went to recently had essentially scripted the first 10 minutes of every class, the closing ceremony (in Korean), had 3 different student creeds, and a few other scripted items in the middle and end of class. My plan is to have general guidelines on how class should start and end, or how drills and forms should start and end. The one exception is instructors need to learn the specifics of the beginner class. No student creed, nor any rote memorized word lists.
  2. Minimize the rote material. Students only need to memorize their form. Advanced students will have a specific set of items that they create themselves and then memorize for testing (instead of rote memorizing what I teach). Additional rote material will be required for demonstration team or other choreographed events, but not for belt progression. Again, the exception is for instructors to memorize the beginner curriculum.
  3. Tangent to #2, regarding the creative material advanced students need to create, a transfer student can use material from their old school. This isn't by design, but is a happy bonus for them.
  4. Minimize the requirements on instructors, especially in the advanced and black belt class, in order to allow them to teach what they know, instead of what I dictate. Transfer instructors can ease into the class by helping out at this level, until they can learn my beginner curriculum.
  5. Approach differences in technique as such (except in the white belt class or in forms). If someone comes in as a red belt and does a different style of spinning hook than I teach, I will work with them on the way I teach it and the pros and cons of their way vs. mine. I can use that as a lesson. Instead of (what's been my experience, and luckily I was the "correct" way) just saying one is wrong and mine is right, because mine has details XYZ.
"Would I want to come to my school" is a question I ask myself as I prepare my plans.

What are some ways you make newcomers feel welcome? Do you purposefully arrange your classes or curriculum to help accommodate them?
 
I'm going to say that the idea of a transfer student (unless they're coming from another branch of the same system, with the same curriculum and the same standards) stepping into an instructor role is simply ludicrous. You went from a "KKW" school that didn't use the KKW curriculum. How on earth could you be expected to teach the KKW curriculum in another school?

I will allow (and have) a KKW transferee to work with students on the KKW curriculum. Under supervision. They're not an instructor, they're simply sharing knowledge, which is something I expect ALL students to do with those of lower rank. They cannot be an instructor in our system because they do not know the curriculum. If and when they have learned our system well enough to match their KKW rank, they can be an actual instructor.
 
I'm going to say that the idea of a transfer student (unless they're coming from another branch of the same system, with the same curriculum and the same standards) stepping into an instructor role is simply ludicrous. You went from a "KKW" school that didn't use the KKW curriculum. How on earth could you be expected to teach the KKW curriculum in another school?
The "KKW curriculum" that we didn't do is 8 forms. 8 forms which my old school was phasing in. And they don't take that long to learn. The majority of what I struggled with was in-house stuff and the chaotic way in which he ordered things.

It also doesn't take someone knowing a specific curriculum to be able to teach things. My BJJ school has asked me to teach spin kicks in the Muay Thai class, despite me being very new to Muay Thai.

I didn't get to actually judge tests, but I sat on the judge's panel at this school's testing. It doesn't take me knowing the KKW curriculum to know that the vast majority of his students were incredibly sloppy, and he had virtually 0 quality control (except if they completely forgot the moves).

And, when he called me and one of his students up and asked us to demonstrate a back kick, the other student was "good", but I was "correct", because my back kick was closer to what he was looking for.
 
"Would I want to come to my school" is a question I ask myself as I prepare my plans.
Seems this thread is addressing the point I made on the other thread vis a vis Transfers in and transfers out.
 
  1. Minimize the rote material. Students only need to memorize their form. Advanced students will have a specific set of items that they create themselves and then memorize for testing (instead of rote memorizing what I teach). Additional rote material will be required for demonstration team or other choreographed events, but not for belt progression. Again, the exception is for instructors to memorize the beginner curriculum
I like the sound of that! I once visited a school as a red belt, and a kid asked if I knew the 10 self defence techniques, the 10 one step sparrings, the 8 forms....I had to explain that I only know the forms, as only the forms are standard across schools, and the other materials is the KJN's own material.
 
The "KKW curriculum" that we didn't do is 8 forms. 8 forms which my old school was phasing in. And they don't take that long to learn. The majority of what I struggled with was in-house stuff and the chaotic way in which he ordered things.

It also doesn't take someone knowing a specific curriculum to be able to teach things. My BJJ school has asked me to teach spin kicks in the Muay Thai class, despite me being very new to Muay Thai.

I didn't get to actually judge tests, but I sat on the judge's panel at this school's testing. It doesn't take me knowing the KKW curriculum to know that the vast majority of his students were incredibly sloppy, and he had virtually 0 quality control (except if they completely forgot the moves).

And, when he called me and one of his students up and asked us to demonstrate a back kick, the other student was "good", but I was "correct", because my back kick was closer to what he was looking for.
That is the issue with stuck in systems. Someone can be good . But it doesn't matter because they are different.

I would probably separate the ritual from the application.
 
I like the sound of that! I once visited a school as a red belt, and a kid asked if I knew the 10 self defence techniques, the 10 one step sparrings, the 8 forms....I had to explain that I only know the forms, as only the forms are standard across schools, and the other materials is the KJN's own material.
And a lot of people who only know the one school they've trained at treat the in-house curriculum like gospel.
 
I recently moved, tried out a new school, and didn't really connect with it. That story is in another thread, but the TL;DR is that there was so much about the school for me to learn that I struggled to feel useful as an instructor. It cemented for me opinions I had of other students who had come to my old school already at a high rank, and their struggles to fit in. As I prepare my plans for my own school, one thing that I've kept in mind lately is not just "How would a student react to X", but also, "How would an instructor react to X" and "How would a transfer student react to X?"

As such, I have tried to keep to a minimum extra things that might make it difficult for an instructor to keep track of the entire curriculum, or things in which a transfer student might feel self-conscious about. Some ideas I have regarding this:

  1. Minimize the rituals. The school I went to recently had essentially scripted the first 10 minutes of every class, the closing ceremony (in Korean), had 3 different student creeds, and a few other scripted items in the middle and end of class. My plan is to have general guidelines on how class should start and end, or how drills and forms should start and end. The one exception is instructors need to learn the specifics of the beginner class. No student creed, nor any rote memorized word lists.
  2. Minimize the rote material. Students only need to memorize their form. Advanced students will have a specific set of items that they create themselves and then memorize for testing (instead of rote memorizing what I teach). Additional rote material will be required for demonstration team or other choreographed events, but not for belt progression. Again, the exception is for instructors to memorize the beginner curriculum.
  3. Tangent to #2, regarding the creative material advanced students need to create, a transfer student can use material from their old school. This isn't by design, but is a happy bonus for them.
  4. Minimize the requirements on instructors, especially in the advanced and black belt class, in order to allow them to teach what they know, instead of what I dictate. Transfer instructors can ease into the class by helping out at this level, until they can learn my beginner curriculum.
  5. Approach differences in technique as such (except in the white belt class or in forms). If someone comes in as a red belt and does a different style of spinning hook than I teach, I will work with them on the way I teach it and the pros and cons of their way vs. mine. I can use that as a lesson. Instead of (what's been my experience, and luckily I was the "correct" way) just saying one is wrong and mine is right, because mine has details XYZ.
"Would I want to come to my school" is a question I ask myself as I prepare my plans.

What are some ways you make newcomers feel welcome? Do you purposefully arrange your classes or curriculum to help accommodate them?
I don't see how you will have any vehicle for control, standards, or school identity.
Item 5 is a logical approach that has to be broached that way IMHO.

We never try to make a transfer feel like an outsider. I set down with them and talk through their experience and tell them to expect differences but to not get overly hung up on the how, that will come in time. I also encourage them to talk after class about the differences and the why. This can be a very fun and learning conversation.
One very important thing to remember as an instructor is did their technique work, even if it does not look quite 'right' (per your curriculum)? Anatomy and engrained movements can change appearance quite a lot, but it can still be a functional movement and for some, the best they can do.

Off the top of my head, we have black belts from at least six different styles right now. Some essentially started over, some still have obvious roots form their old training. If I spent all their time trying to change that, it would be a huge waste of time.
 
I posted a thread before about how I did Tang Soo Do from a small school but was unable to transfer my rank into a larger organization despite knowing the same hyung and one-steps as that same organization requires. I literally knew the exact same stuff as I sat in and watched some of their black belt classes. So, I guess it really is up to the individual school owner how they deal with transfers.

I would think working with the individual in a private training context to see where in you're curriculum they would best fit would be ideal.
 
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I ended up transferring due to a move at a KKW red belt level. However, at this point in time I had missed two black belt tests due to COVID response shut-downs. (The second shut down was 9 days before my rescheduled test, I was ready).

It took a little while to feel integrated but I think my school did a great job and I was finally able to take and pass my 1st Dan test just 8 months after moving, 6 months after being able to regularly attend classes (even though I had to learn a bunch of new curriculum).

There were some procedural things that took me awhile to learn, but only because everyone seemed to assume I knew them since I was a red belt. For this, I wish there had been a written guide handed out. It was things like bowing to each rank of black belts by name of rank (my last school rarely had more than one or two BB besides the master at my classes so they may have done this and I just didnt experience it), kiyup before throwing the first technique in a drill and waiting to hear a response kiyup before beginning (makes sense when explained it was to be sure your partner is ready and doesnt get clobbered), colored belts sometimes get paired up and hold targets for each other (my last gym only BB ever held targets for anything), when bowing out, in addition to bowing to each master and then to each rank of BB saying the Korean word for thank you (I dont know how to spell it). These things, especially the kiyup before throwing the first technique in a drill, took me quite a while to figure out. The bowing in & out was trial by fire as I attended the mid-afternoon class at first and was the only red belt and so had to jump in on the commands for bowing people in and out. Other things that were different involved curriculum but the Masters & BB understood I was transferring in and made sure I got a lot of one on one time with other BB and a high ranking Brown felt who knew her stuff. They also gave me a print out of all the steps to every drill, many of which they also had videos of from the COVID era lockdowns they shared with me. So curriculum stuff I was able to catch on to rather quickly and really enjoyed (even if I was overwhelmed at times). The hardest parts of the curriculum were the things that were mostly the same but slightly different. For example, my old gym did a knife foot like a reverse circulating/crescent kick. This gym its a different kick that comes out more straight. Those little things were much harder than the stuff that was completely new.

Anyhow, all that to say that I dont know you need to eliminate your curriculum. Just find ways to help a transfer student catch on more quickly and maybe take time or have a packet to give out that explains procedural and ritual things that may be different between dojangs.
 
Anyhow, all that to say that I dont know you need to eliminate your curriculum. Just find ways to help a transfer student catch on more quickly and maybe take time or have a packet to give out that explains procedural and ritual things that may be different between dojangs.
Eliminating the curriculum has been a part of the plan before I started this particular endeavor (making my school welcome for transfer students).

An example I used in another thread is the way my school did Hapkido, vs. how I would do it. A simple example would be a curriculum with 25 techniques for white belts, which includes:
  1. Defend cross grab with a scissor chop into Figure-4 lock
  2. Defend cross grab with a swim move into Figure-4 lock
  3. Defend two-on-one grab with a swim move into Figure-4 lock
  4. Defend straight grab with a duck-under into Figure-4 lock
  5. Defend double grab with a duck-under into Figure-4 lock
  6. Defend cross grab with a duck-under pass-off into Figure 4 lock
  7. Defend cross grab with a swim move into elbow lock
  8. Defend two-on-one grab with a swim move into elbow lock
  9. Defend straight grab with a pass-off into elbow lock
  10. Defend double grab with a pass-off into elbow lock
  11. Defend cross grab with an inside spin move into giftwrap take-down
  12. Defend straight grab with an inside spin move into giftwrap take-down
  13. Defend straight grab with an outside spin move into giftwrap take-down
  14. Defend two-on-one grab with an inside spin move into giftwrap take-down
  15. Defend double grab with an inside spin move into giftwrap take-down
  16. Defend cross grab with a v-lock
  17. Defend two-on-one grab with a v-lock
  18. Defend straight grab with a pass-off into v-lock
  19. Defend double grab with a pass-off into v-lock
  20. Defend cross grab with a z-lock
  21. Defend two-on-one grab with a z-lock
  22. Defend straight grab with a z-lock
  23. Defend double straight grab with a z-lock
  24. Defend straight grab with a z-lock into a figure-4 lock
  25. Defend straight grab with a z-lock into elbow lock
The way this kind of curriculum works is my Master would say "Do white belt #22", and you have to tell your uke to do a straight grab, and then do the technique. If you said the wrong grab, minus points on the test. If you did a z-lock instead of a v-lock, minus points on the test. And they usually had a specific finisher, if you used the wrong finisher, minus points.

Instead, I'd rather teach where the same ideas are taught like this:
  • The four main grabs are cross, straight, double, and two-on-one
  • White belt techniques are the Figure-4 lock, elbow lock, giftwrap, v-lock, and z-lock
  • Common entries from the grabs into the positions are swim move, duck under, pass-off, and inside spin move. Sometimes we'll use a different entry.
In my Master's curriculum, we would always just do #1-#25. In my style, we could say:
  • Today we're doing all the moves from a cross grab.
  • Today we're doing different grabs and entries for the giftwrap.
  • Today we're focusing on transitions from the z-lock.
It's the same stuff, but with a much more flexible approach.
 
I think 1/2 the issue sometimes is the thought that the instructor is not open to feedback. So then people post here.
I 100% do not believe that either the Master I trained under for many years, nor the GM that I recently trained under for a few months, were open to any feedback from me.

As part of the written portion of the 3rd dan test, I had to write suggestions to improve the school. My Master did not implement a single one. He did not discuss a single one with me. In talking with the other 3rd dan black belts, they all had the same experience.

He also didn't want me teaching anything that he hadn't explicitly told me. I say this because a student had asked me a question and I gave an answer. Then he asked what the student asked, and said that because he hadn't given me the answer, I should've referred the student to him instead of answering on my own.

I'm honestly at a point where I wonder if I want to call my school "Taekwondo". It will have forms similar to the TKD forms I've learned, and it will have drills and a sparring style largely like what I am used to. But my experience with TKD is that Masters are control freaks, and I don't want to give that vibe.
 
But my experience with TKD is that Masters are control freaks, and I don't want to give that vibe.
I firmly believe that being part of a big organization with standard curriculum is the best way to go. Being a part of a small school like I was, the Master was in complete control. It was his interpretation of the art and not the actual standard art itself. So any questions on his movement being different from the standard were relegated to "shut up", it is my art. Personally, I want to learn a martial art in its standard form, not something that some lone wolf thinks is the best interpretation.

That being said, those that do teach their own system, such as yourself, if they are willing to evolve and listen to students, then it could be a profound success.
 
I firmly believe that being part of a big organization with standard curriculum is the best way to go. Being a part of a small school like I was, the Master was in complete control. It was his interpretation of the art and not the actual standard art itself. So any questions on his movement being different from the standard were relegated to "shut up", it is my art. Personally, I want to learn a martial art in its standard form, not something that some lone wolf thinks is the best interpretation.

That being said, those that do teach their own system, such as yourself, if they are willing to evolve and listen to students, then it could be a profound success.
This was my experience in a big organization.

This has not at all been my experience in BJJ or Muay Thai. In BJJ, when folks ask a question, my professor will say, "I did it this way because of the situation we're drilling", or "I like this, you could try that". In a seminar, I've seen him have a healthy debate with the visitor. A brown belt asked the visiting professor a question and his attitude was "I don't know, you try it and figure it out."

In Muay Thai, I told my coach I'm going to try to empty my cup. He said, "No, bring what you know already to the table."

This is the vibe I want to give. If it's my school, I can set the vibe.
 
I have changed some techniques and methods to either suit the student or suit the room. It is like any plan you taylor it to fit the situation.

So for example there is a run through double leg that our coach teaches. Where I will almost always go for the circle the legs version.

Now the run through is generally better but new people always duck their heads doing it. And if you have a room full of people sparring you can't run through unless you are willing to run over people.

So some people will get one version other people will get another.
 
I have changed some techniques and methods to either suit the student or suit the room. It is like any plan you taylor it to fit the situation.

So for example there is a run through double leg that our coach teaches. Where I will almost always go for the circle the legs version.

Now the run through is generally better but new people always duck their heads doing it. And if you have a room full of people sparring you can't run through unless you are willing to run over people.

So some people will get one version other people will get another.
IMO, there's different levels of "wrong" in a technique.
  1. It's wrong because the kata explicitly says it's done a different way.
  2. It's wrong because that's not the drill.
  3. It's wrong because it's against the rules.
  4. It's wrong because it doesn't work.
 
I posted a thread before about how I did Tang Soo Do from a small school but was unable to transfer my rank into a larger organization despite knowing the same hyung and one-steps as that same organization requires. I literally knew the exact same stuff as I sat in and watched some of their black belt classes. So, I guess it really is up to the individual school owner how they deal with transfers.

I would think working with the individual in a private training context to see where in you're curriculum they would best fit would be ideal.
Went to College as a red belt. School owner there let me train as a red belt although I offered to wear a white belt. . WTF Flag on wall and General Choi's book on the desk - same patterns - took first place in patterns in an in house tournament. He had me teaching at one of his schools - for no pay of course. Went home in May for summer break upon return Instructor had me test for first gup and then first Dan in August before going back to school - that instructor would not let me wear a Black Belt. Kyun Suk Park in Miami - I wonder what ever became of him. Did run across one of his assistants years later who opened a school in the Chicago area.
 
I tell my Senior students when They teach something to a lower rank they should think about how I taught them because the methodology has been tested and evolved over the decades for efficient teaching and learning. Then, if they think they have a better way to run it by me so we can analyze and discuss it.
 

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