Students Taught Differently

"The best coaching I've ever done is the coaching I didn't do."

This is something one of our students has mentioned in conversations with me numerous times. He has been a high school ski team coach for many years. When you first read or hear it, it can be confusing; however, once you understand it, you can see the wisdom behind it. Back in July 2016, I made a post stating that martial arts is what happens between the pictures. This topic is nothing more than a continuation of the same thought.

How many times have you been in your martial arts class and noticed the instructor teaching something that they had taught you? If you aren't the junior-most student, I wager to say there have been many times. The instructor may walk a student through the steps of the technique with some explanation a few times and then have them practice it many times before commenting or answering questions. I know I tend to do this myself. This gives the student an opportunity to work out what they are doing, how they should do it, and why they are doing it in a way that they understand. Of course, correction, refinement, and answers to questions will follow.

Black belt students, how many times have you witnessed your instructor teaching lower rank requirements to others? How many times did they use the exact movements, the exact words? More importantly, how many times did you hear something and wonder, "Why wasn't I ever told that?" My answer to you is a question itself, "Would you have needed that explanation to understand the technique?" Your answer to that question would likely be, "No." This is because your instructor gave you the information that they thought you needed in order to move toward success.

Additional information for analysis of techniques or patterns is commonly sought after by adults. Sometimes the information is supplied; sometimes it is not. Sometimes the student understands additional information presented and it helps them; other times it may confuse them. As instructors work with each student, they learn what the student will need at their current stage of training to continue down the road of improvement. Just because you weren't given a detail doesn't mean it isn't there. Conversely, just because you were given a detail doesn't mean that it really is there either. I've known instructors that make statements they think will get the student to move a particular way - knowing the student won't move the way they were just told.

I think that the best instruction you can receive is that which leads you to success with as little explicit detail as possible so that you are able to comprehend, learn, and see the details for yourself.