Seems like now a days everyone and their brother is teaching martial arts or has taken some kind of martial art and lets face it…everyone has an opinion on what should be taught to who and how! Its not that easy, however. We train in Karate or other martial arts for years and years and try to get good but mostly we work on our martial skills…some with greater success than others. Then we are asked to teach one day and while we think “damn that looks easy…just count a lot”…its not!
First time I taught I was so scared that Sensei had to tell me that I was okay and even if I completely screwed up…it was fine. We start off one on one and then get a group of beginners and if we last we finally get to teach in front of the big class. But one thing is for sure, we are all different and no two approaches are the same or come from the same place, and…they shouldn’t.
But what makes a good instructor….well first learn to listen. SHUT UP! We tend to have internal speak when others are teaching and we think we know it all. I have seen brown belts rapidly stop progressing because they think they know it all. They stop listening and start talking….even if its not on the outside. Listen to everything your seniors and instructor says! They have been doing this crazy art for a long time and they have trained with some great instructors who have passed on information to them that has brought them to the level they are at now. Learn to really listen and let your personal opinions form later. Each class set aside your own thinking and go for a more “I’m a student” approach over a “been their done that” approach. Hell you might even learn something.
Your first classes you teach, aside from Newbies on the side should always be children…and I am not just saying that because it was my first steps into self torture and teaching! Teaching kids gives a unique opportunity to learn how people learn. Kids learn one of three ways in my experience…and I am being general. Visual learners have to see you do it, Audio learners have to hear you say it and “Just do it” learners…well they need to just friggin do it! Kids are very rooted in one of these learning styles, you don’t get many kids that can listen and see it and never do it but get basic principles in the first try.
Now, no matter what your instructor says, or any instructor says you have to find your own groove and style when you teach. Some people will be very dynamic and outgoing or very detailed and introspective in your approach. It does not much matter, you need to be you when you are teaching. Faking it will look FAKE. So, give it up…just be yourself and lean to teach like YOU.
Don’t ever give up learning. The level you stop at will be the goal for your students and you need to NEVER stop raising that for them or for you. Seek outside information and knowledge be it on the net, in books, at camps or from friends that also train and self exploration. I have seen so many instructors who have been spinning their wheels teaching the same things for 20 years….how boring. Not only that but often the information they are teaching has changed or been found to be wrong..but they keep teaching it.
Its like the instructors that still say that Karate was created by peasants to defend themselves against Samurai…BULL PUCKY! It was created by Okinawan nobility! About as far away from the Rice plantation worker as you can get…That and they tend to forget that Okinawa did not have Samurai on it till the Satsuma clan invaded, and Karate was created long before that! Learn the truth, learn new ways of doing things and basically don’t forget to keep learning.
The next MOST important thing is to enjoy teaching and care about the students. Don’t look at them as money, because to be frank…we aint getting rich here…in fact my instructor PAYS for the right to teach some months. The rent has to get paid and he sometimes falls short with his student fees, so he pays out of his own pocket. Why, well because he cares enough to do this. He does not want his clubs to fail as a lot of his students are low income at one of his clubs and they pay very little, but benefit a lot. He cares enough to work for the students and keep the Dojo alive. You have to care about your students, feel their pain and their torture as they are trying to progress thru the ranks. Push yourself the way they are trying to push themselves and make sure that you are doing your best for them…and not seeing them as a pay check and way to make a living.
You need to put the time in and expect nothing back, or very little. The reason for this is simple…we are not getting rich here guys, and we also want our efforts to pay off without us expecting a return other than a smile or the knowledge that a student has hit a personal mile stone.
In short, to be a good teacher you need to find your own style of teaching, care about your students and do it for the love of teaching, not for money….other than that, its kind of fun to watch people grow in the arts, so if you feel you can take it…go for it.