Tips for New Instructors
By Grandmaster Quynh Ngo When you teach students at any level any new techniques or katas etc... you must teach with your back turned to them. What this means is you have to do the techniques or the moves of the kata with them from the beginning until they get the general idea or direction down. Then you turn and face them after a while and correct one or max two things. You then continue to do the moves with them slowly so they can see generally what the finished product should look like. Describing and talking about PERFECT techniques is a waste of time if they don't know what it is supposed to look like, and their bodies need a couple hundred reps before they can even comprehend, and start to correct or understand. Exclusively facing the students while teaching is really for when you need to polish them for upcoming test. When you teach a kata, for the first 10 times, you do it slowly with the students and you must move in front of them as they change direction (you move around). Only after they know when and what stances and moves are coming up for the entire kata is when you start to face them while you count. Don't start to correct the fine details the first two classes. Focus on the main fundamental details (stances, load, kicks, angles). In short, when teaching the first week of new material, you work out with them 80% of the time and 15%-20% less each week thereafter. Senseis need to continue their physical training with their students to set an example as well as provide a model for the students. You also suffer because eventually your students’ techniques will surpass you if you don't train. Students must train movements so that they can eventually move on instinct instead of thinking. They must see you move and follow you to remember. Many of you take a short cut by verbally explaining and describing and then count — this is lazy teaching. You will find yourself stopping many times and keep demonstrating and describing the techniques many times. Simply turn your back and do the techniques with them so they can follow you for a while. World class athletes in every sport are coached this way so why reinvent the wheel? No coaches stop and talk about a free throw every time you miss. They just tell you to shoot another 20 times. I observe that many of you talk too much while you are teaching, and generally, more experienced talk less. The reality is once that black belt is draped around your waist, your ego can take over and you feel like you are no longer a student. There is a saying: “Teaching is learning.” You will relearn your movement when you begin to teach. Coaching and motivating goes hand in hand and takes work. Passing on information and counting is easy to do and the result is minimal. Continue to set a model of training dedication while you teach.