Why learn to teach for higher rank - spin off of Pay to teach thread


Green Belt
Mar 16, 2002
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Dayton Ohio
The pay to teach thread interested me in regards to some of the responses stating that part of the requirment for rank is teaching.


I have been throught it before myself in other styles but I have really never understood WHY someone must teach or learn to teach in order to achieve higher rank. Especially with many styles not officially recognizing a person as a certified instructor until they reach 3rd dan black belt or in that range.

I do see the value of teaching because students learn ALOT during that time, BUT why make it a requirement? Coming from my viewpoint, I WANT my students to get the BEST instruction and quite frankly, I am obligated in providing them the BEST instruction I can provide. By allowing a lower rank kyu/gup teach class so they can earn their higher rank is actually providing the rest of the students with inferior instruction if you ask me. I wouldn't even consider having another student teach except maybe the first 15 minutes for warm ups etc...until they were around 2nd or 3rd dan black. Then I KNOW that they can adequately teach the lessons to be taught and even then, I would still be right there observing as needed. I just would NOT make this a requirement that is all.

What are other people's thoughts? Is this some type of tradition? Or is this practice actually endorsed by organizations and/or associations like the JKA etc.?



The value I see is as follows:

1) The student gains some abilities in dealing with "the public". They have to face some frustrations, they have to think on their feet, and they have to be creative. All help in the MA, most notably in sparring.

2) Having other students ask *them* questions helps to develop a deeper understanding of the techniques and variations earlier on. Yes, some people think this way naturally, but not everyone does.

3) Teaching helps cement the knowledge that a student has, and helps them see some of the variations and possibilities that may exist. Sometimes, insight comes while explaining instead of just doing.

There are many other points that I can see as being valuable. People are funny....if you give them the choice, most people will opt for the easier road. If you require something of them, they may grumble, but they will also gain *something* no matter how small, from the experience.

I griped about the teaching requirement when I was a lower belt as well......however, as I started teaching, I saw a LOT of value in it. Now, I am thankful that someone kicked my butt and *made* me teach.

Just my 2 cents' worth.



Founding Member
Oct 29, 2001
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Kennewick, WA
I think it is simply a philosophical difference. Our school has a requirement for teaching for both brown and black belt ranks. The reason is that we consider anyone that we promote to these ranks to be instructors, junior instructors to be sure, but instructors none the less. If you dont or wont teach you wont reach brown. Period. We will teach you to fight and defend yourself just as we would anyone else, but you wont reach that coveted rank.

Our green belts (rank before brown) have about 4-5 years of experience as students, I dont think it is unreasonable for them to teach someone with 3 months of experience. A student-instructor is supervised by a full instructor to make corrections or offer suggestions on teaching technique. Most of a student-instructors time is spent in one-on-one instruction rather than leading the class. Just like in many school districts, teaching licenses arent offered until someone has flight time.

We arent part of an organization, this is just something that has been a tradition in our lineage.



Master Black Belt
Dec 27, 2001
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Teaching (or trying to teach) shows how well you do or do not know a technique.
I learn from watching my students teach simply because they express themselves differently than I do. I see how much they do and do not grasp of the material they have to date.
I am also selfish in making them teach. If I have a group of seniors present I can have one teach the newer students part of the time, which gives me some play time with the advanced group, then I take the basic group and let the advanced group go work on whatever came out of the session. This is almost essential if you don't have a lot of class times, and you want to manage one on one time with your people.


Well, I agree with what's been said so far, but I'm going to take a philosophical approach:

1. Part of our responsibility as martial artists is to be leaders, not only in our studios, but in the larger society as well. Going wih that, we have a certain responsibility to help create leaders in society as well. One way to help our students become leaders is by having them teach. The more they teach, the more of a leader they are likely to become. teaching may lead to many other forms of leadership.

2. We also have a responsibility to preserve our arts. We will not be here forever, and I'd like to think that at least some of mys students will one day feel a calling to teach at a studio of their own. Just because you can DO a thing does not necessarily mean you are able to TEACH that thing well. I for one would not want a student teaching my art who has never learned how to teach. I have a degree in Education, but I can honestly say that I have learned more about teaching overall from my martial arts instructors than from my college professors.

If we are to preserve the future of our arts, our students must be taught not only how to perform the techniques, but how to teach them as well.


Well said, TangSooGuy!

All too true that we want to be sure that our arts get passed down. I would also throw in that we want to be sure that we can pass down the (good) traditions and history of our arts. Each person teaching will have plenty of stories to add to the history, and can keep each art as a living system, instead of just a "dead" series of movements.

Thanks for making an excellent point!



In my Taijutsu dojo, there is a standing tradition :rolleyes: that if anyone arrives late, a student in the class must expain what they missed. This helps the instructor gague how much has been absorbed. Also I imagine he gets irritated expaining the same damn thing all the time...

In my Kenpo dojo, nobody is ever late, so that isn't done.

Personally if I was late to class, I would not go- I think it's rude. But apparrently, that is just me. :shrug: