THE ROLE OF AN INSTRUCTOR
- TO TEACH GOOD BASIC TECHNIQUE: Basic technique is the foundation of the martial art and emphasis must be placed on correctness of movement, breathing and technique. Instructors must describe clearly what each technique is trying to achieve and when teaching must break down each individual movement into a preparation position, an execution and a recovery position.
No student can ever master or perfect basics. Just improve. There is always something to work on whether it’s stances, breathing, co-ordination, quickness of stepping or speed. Students should repeat basics and strive every time to get faster and more powerful than the previous execution. Never let a student progress unless they are competent in their basics. The better the basics the better the student.
BREATHING x RELAXATION x TECHNIQUE x SPEED = POWER
- TO TEACH THE PHILOSOPHY OF DO Do is the essence of the martial art and must be taught alongside the physical training. The tenets of Taekwondo must be explained and stressed to the student so that they understand what they are learning.
Taekwondo should only be used outside the dojang in self defence. The martial arts can become a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. If instructors only teach students how to kick and punch and not how to control their body and mind through the principles of Taekwondo it may have detrimental affects.
This is the hardest but most important task of a martial art instructor. The role of an instructor is to not only produce physical excellence but a caring, selfless, mentally-strong individual that can deal with any situation thrown at them in life. Who said instructing was easy!
- DOJANG ETIQUETTE White belts instinctively copy high grades so it is essential that you ensure black belts are courteous. Teach your white belts basic etiquette, give them hand out sheets on; when to bow, why they bow, how to behave in the Dojang etc. If they are brought up in a respectful environment they are more likely to become more respectful themselves. Respect has to be earned it can not be demanded therefore you yourself must have excellent dojang etiquette.
- GET THE POTENTIAL OUT OF YOUR STUDENTS Every student is completely different and motivational techniques that work for some will not work for others. If a student really wants to practice the martial arts they will not need any incentive to train hard just technical training and a push at the right times. It is an instructors job to pick students up who are mentally down for whatever reason but also to keep students grounded if their ego’s are inflating. Methods of getting the potential out of your students if down to experience and communication skills.
It must be stressed to the student that self motivation is what is needed. Personal striving for perfection of technique is what is needed and to always acknowledge your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Really the instructor should not have to push the student for effort only cast their eye over their technical abilities. However sometimes this is not always the case!
Instructors need to balance between knowing when to give praise to a student and knowing when they need encouragement. An innocent throw away comment by the instructor may have a detrimental effect on someone lacking confident.
Try and think about how much influence you actually have and do not abuse it.
- ASSESSING YOUR CLASS STRUCTURE Teaching juniors is very different to teaching adults and unless you have a separate adult and junior class it may be hard to get your point across. Where possible separate beginners from higher grades and teach differently to both. Black belts should, where possible, work together and push each other physically and mentally anyway.
JUNIORS tend to respond to more physical exercises that are not to long in length as their concentration is limited. (If you spot a youngster who can absorb the exercise and has potential to progress a little bit faster then simply separate them occasionally and teach them the techniques so they can progress to their next belt.) Never hold any individual back if they have the correct attitude and are showing willing to learn they may get despondent. Juniors also tend to progress well with a little bit of humour and loads of encouragement. Try and concentrate on their strengths and simply point out their weaknesses and what they need to work on.
ADULTS are obviously there because they want to be there 100% so this in itself makes life easier. All adults regardless of gender should be treated equally. Allowances should also be made for age and the instruction must use discretion when teaching certain techniques. Obviously an older person cannot be expected to physically do what a 20 year-old can do so don’t even try and make them. Every exercise you teach can be adapted for special circumstances may they arise. Also injuries are more than likely to occur so again certain exercises may have to be avoided for a period of time. Adults are normally keen to progress and take in as much knowledge as possible. Try not to confuse them by feeding them too much information in one go. Students must learn not too be greedy for information and too concentrate on perfecting what they already know.
- TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE Training regularly yourself is vital if you wish to instruct. As you will probably already know it does not take long for your technical ability and speed to deteriorate quickly if not practicing regularly. This in turn knocks your confidence at the front of the class as you know mentally you are not as good as you used to be. Therefore you demonstrate less to your students and eventually stop training altogether which basically means you no longer train in Taekwondo.
To get on the dojang floor no matter what your grade and age is martial art spirit and your students will respect you for that and are more likely to continue training themselves if they decide to open a club. The continuation of training is important because:
- It shows you lead by example.
- It keeps you fit, supply and most importantly progresses your own training.
- Keeps your involvement with your association so you as a club do not become isolated.
- Keeps you, therefore your students, updated with new methods and progression in the martial art.
If you do not train or compete in competitions then your students will not and laziness will creep in. It is important in a martial artists life that they have a target to aim for whether it be a competition, a grade or simply to improve a certain technique.
- PAPERWORK & ADMINISTRATION Paperwork is now a way of life. It is the instructor’s job to ensure that all the necessities are undertaken. Including:
- Registering all the students.
- Ensuring all students, including you, are insured and a member of the association.
- To keep students updated with forthcoming events via letter or email.
- To keep recorded logs of money taken for equipment, grades, lessons and seminars.
- To forward students for Kup Grades &Dan Grades.
- To possibly produce handouts that may help the students understand easier.
- To collate contact details if ever needed.
This is a very big job and does not even include the hardest part of physically teaching the students. Many people find these tasks daunting but by delegating these tasks to higher grades often not only helps you but also them in their attitude towards just selfishly turning up and training. Many students don’t realise the tasks undertaken by the instructor so it is important that higher grades know. Plus it is good training if they one day decided to open a club.
Training Fees Also do not undersell the martial art. As an instructor you have worked hard to get to that position and yourself put a lot of time, effort and expense to get to where you are. A lot of people complain about the price of training but think nothing on spending money on expensive clothing or equivalent interests. If you undersell the martial arts it will never have a worth. Saying that I’ve seen a lot of instructors work the other way and charge extortionate fees when they are not qualified. Try and find a happy balance depending on your experience and education in the martial art.
- TO TEACH SPORT FIGHTING I would say that only 5% of students enjoy entering competitive full contact fighting competitions. That doesn’t mean that the other 95% of students cannot benefit from the actual training. Sport training is a lot more physical and should be just as technical as traditional Taekwondo. Even if you have no interest in sport fighting it may in fact help increase your speed, awareness, fitness, reaction time and stepping skills.
If you do compete in competitions it is fundamental that you remember that it is still a martial art and your etiquette standard should not drop. I’ve seen many clubs only teach fitness work how to kick pads but nothing of the traditional martial art such as simple etiquette and why you bow. How you approach your fight shows a lot about you as a martial artist. You need to retain your basic principles of inner spirit to win your contests yet also humility and respect for your opponent. If you show genuine respect you will receive respect.
If your students do want to enter sport competitions then specialist training must be given. The best person to instruct in such an area is someone who has lots of experience at various levels. Do not let your students enter into a situation where they may get hurt. It is your job to ensure they learn gradually and are not thrown in at the deep end where they may be put off for life.
- EDUCATION is the key to having longevity in the martial art. Students should be aware that there is always something more they can learn and to take every opportunity for knowledge.
Instructors must also give their students as many opportunities as possible to study the martial art either through their own teachings, handouts and promoting competitions and seminars. Korean terminology is also recommended in the dojang, as when studying a martial art the philosophy of the nation of origin gives a greater insight into it.
- STRUCTURE A LESSON Structuring a lesson can be very difficult as you have no idea who is going to be stood in front of you. A short, vigourous warm-up and stretching exercises should start the lesson. I can only suggest that you go to the lesson with an exercise in mind that you want to correct and then see how the students cope and go from there. A good instructor will automatically pick up on the areas that need to be addressed and work on them.
- Tips and advice when teaching