Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Some thoughts on being an instructor

I was just a little old karate instructor, who ran an itty-bitty program for a long time. Perhaps because I focused on only having a very small long term program and then developed skilled individuals and was able to work with them for a long time, perhaps I saw things in a different light.


I was trained by many highly skilled instructors in many different arts, each way above my capability. I then had occasion for a time to compete against some of the best in the nation, and that competition taught me a great deal. Some of the instruction was given by those who knew how to develop higher levels of focus in your forms, once you had properly been prepared for it.


It gave me insight how to develop the individual towards their own potential.

The reality is even when people receive the same training at the same time, intense training, they are still going to remain different. Some will move to a different skill level in one aspect of their training, others with identical training will move to different levels in other aspects of their training.


All I ever wanted to do is share what I know with my student’s, and work to develop their potential to as far as they chose to take it, and hope they would exceed my own potentials. The students over time are the ones that choose where you can direct them. You can’t make them learn anything. It always is their choice.


If you succeed they can draw their best when they need it, and have acquired knowledge how best to use it.


Long,  long ago I learned a lesson from Cindy Robinson when my wife and I were giving her a lift home from a tournament in Central Pennslyvania. She had to stay for the finals that night to compete for the form grand championship. This was before she was recognized as a National Champion, back when she was a Region 10 champion. She explained that some of the judges were engaging in what was a regular psych war experience she recognized. They were telling her that she was not doing her best that evening.


Now the psych war exists because often those judges own students are competing against her, and there is often what is sniping talk to try and get into someone mind.


What Cindy said next, I have found to be extremely ture.


What the judges miss is every time every competitor competes, every one of them is doing their flat out absolute best. But reality is that every day our best ability changes, It never is exactly the same as before. Some time we move faster, sometimes we move slower, etc. That is reality. But it always is our best.


You see individuals more closely when the group is small. You can observe what can be done better, Of course you can always miss what is happening too, for your own best as an instructor varies too.


You realize that continuing correct practice move one to develop a higher level of performance that can be drawn on. And the better in practice, the more potential on tap when needed, as on a tournament floor or when someone is trying to cave your head in.


A different mission is to raise the individuals awareness how they can use those movement to interrupt an attack, and how to work around less than absolute best performance. But one wishes that is not the case.


I have used video to preserve the shapes of some of our performances at various times in the student’s training. Not to try and capture their absolute best performances. After all their work is to exceed where they have been, and those bests are just temporary points of time.


 Two students with identical training. One was slightly better with bo. One was slightly better with empty hand. But for most outside observers they were identical.


Then their training varied.


The one working bo, worked in different ways to develop his ability. 


The one who worked empty hand followed slightly different training for his ability. For one thing I had him watch as many Gene Kelly dancing movies as possible, paying specific attention to how his movement flowed from the way he used his hips in his dance. Especially when he was paired with skilled dancers.


Time and again each individuals wants, needs and individual effort over the decades, determines how they want their own karate to be.

I will close with a bit of Gene Kelly.



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