The 2 Golden Rules For Karate Instructors

If there is one thing I just can’t stand, then it has to be bad teachers.

It doesn’t have to be a Karate teacher. It can be a yoga instructor, a high school teacher, or even a driving school instructor! Teaching is still teaching. And a bad teacher is still a bad teacher.

And I don’t like them.

At all.

Let me tell you a story:

One day, a few “moons” ago, when I was living and training in Okinawa, I saw a Karate teacher instructing some of his foreign students. This teacher was (is) a somewhat famous Goju-ryu teacher in Okinawa, and the students were probably members of his organization in a branch dojo in some country far away.

Now, during the entire session, I can’t recall hearing even one positive word from this teacher at all! For two hours straight he kept repeating phrases like: “Your kicks are too slow” or “Your punches are too weak” or “Your stances are ugly” and so on. Again and again.

The students (who probably had travelled a long way to be instructed by this man) were very kind and loyal though. They listened carefully to the feedback (insults), bowed over and over, and tried harder and harder.

In vain.

The teacher just sat there in front with his glasses and tried to look cool, throwing out his “wisdom” now and then. I don’t even think he showed or explained a single technique for two hours! When the training was over, the humble students bowed deeply several times again, and even tried to say “thank you very much” in Japanese a couple of times. The teacher just nodded a little.

I felt sick.

I hope they don’t think this is what a good instructor is supposed to be like! But most likely they think so. I mean, the sensei is quite famous, has a nice grade and all… Can’t go wrong with all those titles! He has to be one of the best instructors around, right?

Not so true.

Now, I’m not saying he was (is) a bad person but he sure as hell wasn’t a good teacher. As you see, there are bad Karate teachers even in Okinawa. Just like there probably are some bad Yoga instructors in India, Kung Fu teachers in China and Kickboxing instructors in America. It doesn’t matter what, where or who.

All that matters is how.

“How do you become a good instructor?”

How do you become somebody that not only teaches and inspires, but also makes people happy and makes the transmission of knowledge fun?

I believe I have the answer.

And I can tell you right now, it’s not by standing in front of the class with your arms crossed, screaming how bad everyone are. Though there evidently are people who do exactly that…

Let me present my two golden rules for Karate instructors.

They are very simple.

Actually, they are for any instructor, teacher or tutor. Not just Karate (or Kobudo) teachers. But since this website is supposed to be about Karate… you get the point.

You don’t even have to be a “sensei” to follow my two golden rules. You can (and should!) use them for instance if you are just helping somebody in class, teaching your mom or simply trying to instill some knowledge in a friend. These two golden rules are the result of (too) many years of watching bad instructors.

Japanese or not.

Now, before I reveal them, let me explain why I chose to call them “golden”. The reason is…matryoska-docka

They contain more than what they seem to do. You know those Russian wooden dolls? I think they’re called Matryoshka dolls, or nested dolls, or something. When you open the doll there is an identical, but smaller, doll inside. And then when you open that doll, you find yet another identical, but smaller, doll inside (see pic).

These rules are like those dolls.

Here they are:

The 2 Golden Rules for Karate Instructors

1. Show everything yourself.

When I came up with these rules, I thought “What does a good instructor do?”. And then I thought “What does a bad instructor not do?”. This was the first answer that popped up in my head.

And like you see, it’s really simple.

A good instructor always – always – shows everything himself/herself. Because a good instructor has nothing to hide. They happily show the technique again and again. And then once more. They never stand with their arms crossed. A good teacher loves training, and would never waste an opportunity to train. Therefore, they do everything themselves. When I lived in Okinawa, all of my senseis did the whole warm-up, the whole kihon, and often every single kata together with the students. Sometimes the sensei was close to 80 years old, but that never stopped them!

A great teacher simply loves training too much to stand still.

So, what good will come if you follow this first point?

Let’s see:

  • The instructors technique improves: Since the instructor gets to train every training, instead of just standing still, he/she will gradually improve. This is nothing new. And when you are an instructor, you can’t do the techniques sloppily. You need to show a good example. Therefore you get good, proper, training. Most instructors don’t have time to train daytime by themselves, so this is important.
  • The students see how it actually should be done: Instead of just guessing from the instructors explanations, the students see how somebody with experience does it. This is invaluable.
  • The students feel closer to the teacher: Instead of feeling “below” the teacher, who seems to stand on some invisible pedestal, the students feel more “together” with the teacher, and develop a better bond. The whole atmosphere changes in the dojo.
  • The content of the training remains practical: If the teacher does everything himself, he can’t choose techniques that don’t work or are bad (or simply strange). Because, let’s face it, some instructors like to teach flashy techniques that simply don’t work. They show it in slow speed, maybe once, and then say “Now do it ten times faster with power… and add a backflip”. In reality, it’s impossible. However, if the instructor has to do every technique himself/herself, the techniques will be physically possible, practical, and realistical.

2. Give everyone at least one positive, constructive, comment.

This is the second rule. Perhaps a little bit harder than the first one, but still simple. Give every students at least one positive, constructive, comment. It doesn’t have to be much. One is enough. But it has to be positive and constructive.

Because, believe it or not, most people don’t train Karate to become grandmasters.

They train because they want a break from their work/school, they want to meet other people, sweat a little, learn a little self-defense, be a little smarter, and most of all have a good time. They come to the club because they want to. Nobody forces them. Therefore, they should always feel that they leave with something new. They should leave the dojo feeling a little smarter, stronger and better than when they came. Always.

Students should constantly feel that they are improving.

And they do that when you give them a positive, constructive, comment.

Or else, why should they come to the dojo in the first place?

As a bonus, this will also happen:

  • The students will become better and more: When you get a good constructive comment, you improve and feel good. And when you feel good, you do good. And when you have good students, the word spreads.
  • The instructor becomes better: When the instructor constantly has to search for points to improve in all of the students, he/she will invariably improve his own technique and knowledge. “Hmm… if John turns his back foot 32,5 degrees to the right, he will be able to extend his knee better and therefore generate more power from his great hip movement”. Imagine if the instructor thinks thoughts like this about every student, every training. The teacher is bound to improve.
  • The teacher, and the students, will be happier: When everyone feels that the instructor cares about them, they become happy. That makes the sensei happy. And happiness spreads like a virus. We have all, at least once in our lives, laughed simply because somebody else is laughing, right? We don’t know why, we just do it. It spreads. That’s what happiness does (and for you greedy $$$ senseis out there, the best customers are happy customers).

And… that’s about it.

Those are my two golden rules for Karate instructors. Already forgot them?

1. Show everything yourself.

2. Give everyone at least one positive, constructive, comment.

Follow these, and success will be waiting around the corner. Hopefully. If not, at least a bunch of dedicated, happy, loyal students will be waiting there. Unless you screwed up, in that case a bunch of angry ex-students with sharp sticks might be waiting around the corner.

That’s what I think.

So use my two golden rules to improve yourself, your students, and the world. I have seen far too many teachers who think the world circles around them.

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”

Make a change.

28 Comments

  • I just realized:Combine these two golden rules with these five (https://www.karatebyjesse.com/?p=1328) that I wrote about a time ago, and your Karate club would rule the world!World dominance...Sweet... :)
    • selvakumar
      I like 2 golden rules and the word "A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”regards Yogi Sensei selvakumar.V
  • Fatih Ince
    Hi Jesse,I just want to tell you something; Don't forget GOOD TEACHERS ARE COSTLY, BUT BAD TEACHERS COST MORE...;-)Shihan Ince Toronto, Canadawww.miyagidojo.netp.s. I asked you about M.Higaonna's videos remember? Didn't answer me did you?
  • Hi Shihan Ince,That's true :)I remember answering to somebody about Higaonna, maybe it wasn't you.I didn't film a lot of Mr. Higaonna, so I couldn't make a good "highlight video" of him, sorry. He's so famous anyway so there are plenty of him on Youtube though./Jesse
  • Andreas
    You're a biggy!!! ;O)
  • @AndreasIs that a compliment?Well, probably better than a smally! :)
  • ANDREY TAMPA BAY FL
    2009-8,30 11 30 PM TAMPA TIMES .OSHU !!!WOW IT IS A VERY BIG AND IMPORTANT SUBJECT .YOU SEE KARATE TRAINING LIKE YOU WANT.OR LIKE YOU WERE TEACHED.HAPPY AND FUN ?WHERE THAT COME FROM IN BUDO. I NEVER HEARD ABOUT THAT ! NOT IN KARATE NOT IN IAI DO OR KOBUDO. EVEN ZEN ALWAYS TEACH US FOR LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION HERE AND NOW.. MARTIAL ARTS IS A ROUND TRIP TICKETS TO HELLS. NO LESS. FUN HAVE NO PLACE IN BUDO OR IN THE DOJO. THE PURPOSE IS SPIRITUAL DEVELOPPEMENT NOT FUN. OTHERWISE YOU ARE LIKE KIDS PLAYING WITH WARS TOYS HAVING FUN.!IF YOU WANT TO HAVE FUN GO TO THE PARK NEVER GO TO A DOJO. MARTIAL ARTS IS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE NOT TO HAVE FUN AND GET HAPPY NO ! I WENT TO USA, JAPAN AND OKINAWA MANY TIMES/. NEVER A SENSEI GAVE ME A GOOD COMMENTS AND I DON T WANT IT. BADS COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME ALWAYS...WHEN YOU ARRIVED AT NAHA AIRPORT YOU ARE ALONE NOBODY PICK YOU UP AT THE AIRPORT YOU HAVE TO FIND YOUR WAY IN NAHA TO YOUR DOJO. AND WHEN YOU ARRIVE TO SENSEI GIVE YOU THE COLD SHOULDER JUST TO TEST YOU. OR A SENIOR INSTRUCTOR WILL TELL TO YOU, HE IS SORRY THE SENSEI HAD JUST LEFT NOW AND HE IS IN EUROPA OR USA FOR SEMINARS . THEY WILL TEST YOU GOOD. JUST TO BE SURE THAT YOU DESERVE THEIR TEACHING. THEY WON T GIVE YOU CANDY OR HONEY NEVER.THIS IS THE SPIRIT OF OSHU!(NIN TAI) THE RELATIONSHIP THE BONDS BETWEEN THE SENSEI AND HIS STUDENTS. WITH BADS COMMENTS...THEY WON T TEACH YOU MATTE MA SHITA NO ! FORGET ABOUT THAT ! THE ONLY WAY I WILL IMPROVE IS WHEN HE WILL MAKE REMARKS ABOUT HOW WEAK I AM ! THIS IS FOR SURE I WILL IMPROVE. EVERY BODY PAY MORE OR LESS $ 3 000. TO GO TO JAPAN. AND YOU ARE EXPECTING THAT THEY WILL TELL YOU YOU ARE GOOD. OR HOW GOOD YOU ARE ?? ARE YOU ? NO I GO TO OKINAWA TO KNOW WHERE ARE MY MISTAKES AND BUILD ON IT. AND IMPROVE. THIS KARATE SENSEI IS A GREAT TEACHER FOR GREAT STUDENTS THE TRADITIONAL WAY OF BUDO.HE DON T NEED YOU !!YOU NEED HIM! BUT I AM NOT SURE IF YOU UNDERSTAND HIS WAY ? THE ORIGINAL WAY OF TEACHING WITHOUT COMPROMISES. YOU TAKE IT OR YOU GO. THIS IS BUDO WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. WHEN YOU TRAIN IN JAPAN THE SENSEI WILL TELL YOU AT BESTALL YOUR MISTAKES OR AT WORST WHEN YOUR TECHNICS ARE HALF GOOD HE WILL GIVE YOU THE SILENT TRAITEMENT AND LOOK SOMES PLACES ELSE, AT BEST!! NO MORE. EXPECT NOTHING MUSHIN MU IN ZEN. WE ARE NOT BABY, DO YOU WANT A MEDALS AND A CERTIFICATE FOR STUDENT OF THE MONTH TOO LIKE AT THE KINDYGARDEN AND WE CAN GO TO MC DONALD AFTER THE CLASS FOR A HAPPY MEALS .ARE YOU HAPPY NOW ?? WITH THAT ? COMMON MAN ! MY LATE TEACHER ALWAYS TOLD US AND VERY OFTENI WILL TEACH YOU NOTHING ??IF YOU WANT SOMETHING FROM ME YOU WILL HAVE TO STEAL IT FROM ME ? THAT IS THE JAPANESE WAY. AND SURE AT THAT TIME AND TODAY WE WERE PAYING ATTENTION. IN 40 YEARS TRAINING I NEVER RECEIVED A POSITIVE COMMENTS THIS IS NOT THE BUDO WAY ? WHERE THAT COME FROM? KIDS KARATE. NOT MEN TRAINING THE SAMOURAI WAY THE BUSHIDO. WHEN YOU SEE A JAPANESE SMILING PLEASE RUN. IN JAPAN BEHIND A SMILE IS ALWAYS HIDDEN A SWORD. SO RUN JESSE RUN.ON OUR WAYS TO BUDO. BUDO IS LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION NO COMPROMISE THERE IS NO PLACE FOR FUN NO. NO HAPPYNESS NO . YOUR ONLY TROPHE WILL BE IF YOU SURVIVE ON THE STREET OR AT WAR AND COME BACK HOME ALIVE .AND EVERY SOLDIER DON T WANT TO TALK ABOUT WAR .MANY WW2 VETERANS DON T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. NOT FUN EVEN AFTER IT IS FINISHED. OR ASK A VIETNAN VETERAN TRY NOW TODAY TO MAKE HIM SMILE ABOUT WAR ABOUT BUDO OR BUSHIDO.YOU NEED TO TRUST YOUR TEACHER AND HE NEED TO TRUST YOU. ABOUT THE GOJU SENSEI IF YOU ARE NOT HIS STUDENTS YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO JUDGE OR GIVE ANY COMMENTS ON HIS PERFORMANCES ON ANY OTHER ORGANIZATION KARATE OR OTHER THE ONE WHO TALK DON T KNOWS THE ONE WHO KNOWS DON T TALK. IT IS SIMPLE AS THAT !!THIS IS CALL RESPECT.I AM NOT SURE THAT YOUR PERSONNAL JAPANESE SENSEI IN OKINAWA WILL BE VERY PROUD OF YOU TALKING AGAIN ANY OTHER ORG. MY LATE TEACHER ALWAYS SAY " NO FIHT OUTSIDE THE DOJO OR I WILL KICK YOU OUT, YOU TALKED BAD ABOUT ANY ORGANISATIONS YOU ARE OUT TOO" THAT WAS AND STILL IS OURS 1*RULES. PLEASE REMEMBER IT. AND I DO REMEMBER LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY EVEN 40 YEARS AFTER. THIS WAS HIS 1* TEACHING WHEN YOU JOIN THE DOJO THAN AFTER WE START AND FINISHED EVERY CLASS WITH ZOKIN EVEN IN AMERICA WITH DOJO KUN TOO . WATH A GREAT TEACHER HE WAS. IT IS THE BOND THE TRUST BETWEEN STUDENT AND SENSEI. IN CONCLUSION DARUMA SAY OUTSIDE THE WORDS OUTSIDE THE SCRIPTURE. IN ITALIAN WE SAY "WATH DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU !! DO NOY SAY ANYTHING GOOD OR BAD !!"PLEASE REMEMBER IT JESSE-SAN. YOU D BETTER FOCUS MORE ON TRAINING AND LESS ON TALKING ..ANDREY COLUMBO 8*DAN. TAMPA FL. USA.OSHU !!!
  • O
    Wow... chill out man.What Jesse is trying to say is that with a positive attitude you learn more. And I think most people will agree on that.Picture this: you are in school and have two different teachers teaching the same subject. One being unfriendly and cold - he doesn't give the students one good comment if they say the right answers to his questions. He just stands there and reading from his book.The other teacher is a warm-hearted friendly man. He encourages the students to answer his questions and let them know if they are correct.I can assure you that the second class will have learned a lot more and score double as high on tests. Because they enjoyed it more - they were encouraged to study and learn more. This made it more fun for them and they got so much more out of it. The other group just read to the tests because they had to, they didn't answer any questions because they might say the wrong answer and the teacher may think they are stupid.You can still give feedback in a positive way. There is no difference in the dojo and the classroom - teaching is teaching. And you improve much more if you are encouraged and having fun doing what you do.
    • Emil
      This is the reason I quit Karate! Because I had a Karate Teacher that never gave 1 good comment about my karate. When I did something right, he never said anything. When I did something wrong he yelled at me. Even made fun of me infront of my wife. If I ever go back to martial arts training I'd only look for a positive type of person as my teacher.
  • Marc G.
    This is a very good post, Jesse. I can see some don't agree; but there is 1 thing ANDREY TAMPA BAY FL, I think, did not take into consideration. That is the cultural differences between peoples. If you were to go to a foriegn (no english speaking) country and try to teach ANYTHING, you could not teach in your native language and expect the students to fully (if at all) understand. A teaching methodology is the same principle as a language. It is the basis for their understanding. In Japanese culture there are different standards of public and personal interaction. Teaching while remaining more distant or aloof might well be more effective or more the norm there. However western culture, with its many different nuances, has a different way about it. Therefore a different approach has proven to work better here. This is not to say that westerners are softer or can't learn as well. We can train and fight as hard as anyone. However, the path of ecellence for us might take a slightly different route than their's.
  • ANDREY TAMPA BAY FL
    2009-9, 1 9 AM TAMPA TIMES.OSHU AND THANK YOU.I AGREE WITH THOSE 2 COMMENTS YES !!TEACHING IS TEACHING !!!BUT HERE WE TALK ABOUT BUDO BUSHIDO WAR HARA KIRI . LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION... HERE IN THE STATES WE HAVE THE FEW THE PROUD THE MARINES. TELL ME THEY HAVE FUN AND SMILE WHEN THEY TRAIN ??? OR WHEN THEY ARRIVE IN IRAQ OR IRAN. IT IS LIKE WHEN YOU GO TO UNIVERSITY YOU GO SERIOUS YOU HAVE SERIOUS RESULTS... YOU GO FOR FUN ...WELL...YOU UNDERSTAND ... IN THE MARINE MY STUDENT HAD A WELCOME ARRIVAL SESSION THE VERY 1*DAY, A BROKEN NOSE....THIS IS DEADLY SERIOUS MAN... AFTER HE WENT TO OKINAWA AND PRACTICE KARATE OVERTHERE ..MARRIED AN OKINAWAN LADY. HER NAME WAS SAKUGAWA CAN YOU BELIEVE IT ??? IN THE STATES HERE SOMES DOJO HAVE FUN YES, CERTIFICATE STUDENT OF THE MONTH. BIRTHDAY PARTY, IT IS MORE A KIDNEY GARDEN DOJO.YOU CAN NOT TELL THEM TO DO 10 PUSH UP BECAUSE THEY HAVE TALK.!! THERE'S DOGI IS MULTIPLE COLOR, EVEN PINK AND WHEN THEY WEAR A WHITE ONE THERE ARE SO MANY PATCHES IT LOOK LIKE A CHRISTMAS TREE...IF YOU OPEN THIS FUN*S DOOR PLEASE LOOK WHERE YOU WILL HEADING ON.BUT ON THE OTHER HAND ; KARAMA IS KARMA.IN KARATE AND BUDO EVERY BODY HAVE TO HARMONISE, TIMING HEIHO ECT. SHIN GI TAI .. WE HAVE TO LEAR THE MEANING OF " OSHU " IT WILL HELP US TO UNDERSTAND MORE ON THIS SUBJECT. " OSHU MEAN O NIN " AND IT COME SUPPOSELY FROM THE JAPANESE MARINES AT WW2. BEFORE THAT NO " OSHU " IN USE... THE MAIN IDEA OF A BUDOKA IS TO BECOME A GOOD HUMAIN BEIING. EVERYBODY TAKE A DIFFERENT ROAD TO CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE MONTAIN AND ALL ROAD ARE GOOD . JUST CHOOSE THE RIGHT PATH FOR YOU.NOT NECESSARY ALWAYS THE EASIEST ONE. WHEN YOU TRAIN IN BUDO YOUR ARE VERY STRICT WITH YOURSELF TRAINING PUSHING YOUR LIMITS ,PUSH UP SIT UP AND MORE EASY GOING WITH OTHER... EVERYBODY LOVE WOMAN BUT WE DON T LOVE THE SAME ONE. MARTIALS ARTS IS THE SAME !! WE RECONNIZE A MASTER, NOT BY HIS FIGHTING ABILITY, OR HOW BIG IS HIS DOJO. NO WE RECONNIZE A TRUE MASTER BY HIS KINDNESS. AND THIS CAN TAKE MANY FORM. ON THE OTHER HANDIN REFERENCE OF THIS ARTICLE THE MAIN GOJU TEACHER IN QUESTION SURELY TEACH THE EXACTL SAME WAY HE WAS TOUGHT. SO WE CAN NOT PUT THE BLAME ON HIM TO MUCH. TRADITION IS TRADITION.THANK S FOR YOUR COMMENTS AND FOR READING !ANDREY COLUMBO FLORIDA USA.NAMASTE !!ANDREY COLUMBO 8*DAN. TAMPA FL.USA.
  • Interesting discussion, interesting posts.For my two cents, the so-called "traditional" approach may generate [mental discipline], but for sure you as a fighter - a person who can apply martial arts to a dynamic conflict scenario - will develop much better in an environment of positive reinforcement, physical participation from the instructor and continuous feedback.My current MA skills are very very crappy BJJ and long forgotten MMA kick-boxing standup, but 2 years of MMA taught the unimpressive physical specimen that is me much more about actual combat applications than the previous years of more traditional karate. And then my karate instructor was a fairly friendly guy.Now I realise that I'm rambling, but wanted to add 2 cents.
  • Gary S.
    Yet another good post Jesse. I believe teachers should be as open minded as the students are when it comes to improving. I completely agree that the teacher should ALWAYS workout with the students. For one, it doesn't give the message to the student that teacher's don't need the practice and two, like you said, it's more of a bond within the school showing that EVERYONE works together. My Sensei always interacted with the class and I do the same when I teach. I'll never make the students do something that I won't do with them. Keep up the good posts!
  • I have been in Martial Arts almost 50 years and 1976 I get to oppurtunity to be a student of hanshi Inoue in Japan. With my first visit at his dojo in Japan he met up me at the Narita Airport to be shure that I will found the right and safety way to the honbu dojo in Shimizu, 250 km South of Tokyo.He was allways kindly and very gently both in dojo and outside of the dojo and he was a great pedagog and a teacher. He never hide anything of information behind of the karate or kobudo kata and was happy to teach us all of the "secret" details and principes in his bujutsu.I have seen many masters and "masters" in many seminars I have been invited to teach world wide. There are both bad teachers and good teachers everywhere, in all organisations and styles, in Japan and in other countries. To be a great master of martial arts it is not the same to be a great teacher. This is two different things.Not all masters of karate are also masters of teaching and maybe never can be that.
  • ANDREY TAMPA BAY FL
    THE MOST FAMOUS MARTIAL ARTIST IN THE WORLD ONE DAY AND I AM PROUD OF HIM !THIS TELLS ALL.WATH HUMILITY !!!!JIGA SETI KIRU. !!! YOU DON T HAVE TO TELL MOREWE UNDERSTAND.HAVE A NICE DAY ...ANDREY.
  • karatekenjutsuka
    Hi Jesse, Thank you for an excellent post!!!
  • Hey Andrey, Not sure if you'll ever read this but.. Were you being sarcastic in your posts or serious? Hey, I attended a seminar last Sunday. I'm covered in bruises from it. It was hard but, you know what? I had fun, I smiled, other people around me smiled. The guy teaching it demonstrated everything multiple times, he explained in detail how and why we were doing something. He complimented us when we did things right. And then he hit us, hard. And we hit each other, hard. And we hit him, hard. Serious training doesn't need to be done wearing a frown.
  • Or perhaps that should be Serious training needn't be done seriously (all the time).
  • Yu Fye
    I have to say, I enjoy reading your blog. Maybe you could let me know how I can subscribing with it ? I feel I should let you know I found this site through google.
  • Drew Baye
    Great article! I do not teach martial arts (I'm a perpetual student) but I do one-on-one personal training, and whenever I work with a new client I tell them some people learn better by hearing, some by seeing, some by doing, and just to be sure we're going to do all three. I break down the exercise into steps and explain everything while demonstrating, then talk them through through it.Also, with regards to phrasing, every possible criticism can (and should!) be phrased in the form of an instruction. Never tell a person what they're doing wrong, tell them how to do it right. The information is the same, but the difference in how it makes them feel about what their learning and their receptiveness is huge.For example "you're slumping and your shoulders are too far forward" versus "raise your chest and pull your shoulders back", or "you're letting your back round too much" versus "focus on keeping your back straight". Same general message, but a world of difference in how people respond.I got this from my dad. He coached high school football and I noticed when I played for him he never told anybody what they were doing wrong. He always told them "try doing this" or "try doing it this way". Everything was phrased positively.It's also useful when commenting on your wife's cooking :)
  • Anja Godsman
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  • Szilard
    Great article. I have to argue with your second point. Feedback and realistic grading is important in learning. From a decent feedback you learn what are your strengths and weaknesses. Also "your kick sucks" is not an instructive statement, even if it is true. "Your kick sucks because your balance is not good enough" is much better. After all a sensei is a sensei because he can see these kind of things. Sometimes small improvements in the basics can fix a whole set of errors. My shotokan sensei Rick Davey was very good at figuring out what caused a student's trouble, and he knew the exercises to fix the error too. But then again he wasn't an 8th dan sensei, he was only 2nd dan, but with over 20 years of experience of teaching karate, he was also a teacher in a high school, and he was (is) very good at his profession. I don't even understand why a high dan level would mean even basic skills in teaching. Dan levels are not granted for teaching skills, they are given for nice kata, bunkai and kumite; on higher levels for organization skills or at least money pumped into karate events. I have never seen teaching skills entering the picture at all.
  • Naresh Sharma
    Dear Sir, its really true. Regards Naresh Sharma (India) Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Academy of India
  • maja
    love this one, if it's one thing I like it's good teachers. I also generally make a point out of telling good teachers that they are in fact very good teachers. I see it all too rarely and so I really want them to know that I appreciate their efforts. I think it's time to remind my senseis that I appreciate them again. I've seen far too often how bad teachers (usually in school) somehow manage to make their students lose their love for learning (everyone loves learning. at least to begin with, they just don't always know it) and that honestly just breaks my heart. at the same time it makes me truly appreciate good teachers for the way they just make you want to learn and become the best version of yourself. first it's often just to make them proud, just to show that they inspire you. good teachers are the ones that openly believe in you and eventually you start believing in yourself as well because they show you that you can. sorry, I'm really passionate about teaching. I do think of myself as a teacher (even though I'm not really yet. plan to be one in several areas though), because I've seen (from my dad) that being a teacher really is something you are all the time. a good teacher never stops being a teacher when they go home, they are always eager to share any and all experience they have in any part of life and they're just as eager to learn from you (because great teachers never stop learning, like in your first point!). let me tell you, my dad is a teacher full time (it can be annoying when watching historical movies, but mostly awesome). whether he just wants to share a good way of lighting the fire or how to know if my choice of boyfriend is good (choose someone you can proudly bring home for dinner) he constantly follows these principles and I see this in other teacher too.btw, one mark of a good teacher that I think is incredibly important: time. as often as possible they choose to give you their time (I'm talking outside the classroom or dojo, the valuable time they could and probably wish to spend on themselves) just to make you better. not enough students appreciate this. it's really like that quote you mentioned at the end "A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others." thank you, that's gotta be one of the best quotes I've read (and you do have a lot of good ones)sorry for the long comment again. I don't really comment on things unless I think it's worth saying.
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  • Emil
    I QUIT Karate because this teacher was insulting me in front of my wife and never gave me not even 2 good comments about my Kata in 8 classes of training with him. He yelled at me every class. I need to look for a better teacher cause I'm starting to lose respect for Karate, because of how this so called black belt Karate teacher acts.
  • NOBODY_SPECIAL
    Well, I have red this article since 2009... But only now I return to leave a commend... Just imagine save the address all this years and few times I returned to read it ...Well I am of age 42 now and training since 4years old... Since the years I have been taught and teaching to many classes and attend many seminars... Truth is that a good teacher KNOWS its class attendants every time... People character varies... There are people way to serious with their training and vice versa...My very first teacher was too rough and wild... We had to follow (even young boys) a strict discipline more or less like Marines... And we trained in an ultimate level like we were about to go for war... The truth is that many stopped the training and quit KARATE... But others like me continue ... I did also attend classes of other systems for years as had to study (in a different country ) and had to go to other KARATE SYSTEMS... I can tell now that in every DOJO I went all Teachers and students liked my technique... And I know this came from the discipline and the high level hard train of the past years... Only then was realized that the 'BAD YELLING TEACHER' did a perfect job on me... Only then realized that there were moments wanted to quit because of the awful attitude and psychological attack we had... Ohhh!!! did I mentioned that we had a lot of kicks and ounches in different body parts without notice if the stance was not good or the reflex not fast enough...BUT THIS IS ME!!! AND MAYBE SOME MORE READING THIS...Other people just DO NOT LIKE and DO NOT TOLLERATE... But this fair as well..A GOOD TEACHER then knows exactly the type of athlete has at his DOJO and should know how to practice and teach the athkete reaching the best possible edge for this specific athlete... The rest should go beyond this point and actually overcome their selves... Lastly there are teachers that do not deserve to be teachers... BUT NOT THE WAY THEY PERFORM THEIR TEACHING.... BUT NOT DESERVE BECAUSE OF THEIR POOR KNOWLEDGE AND TECHNIQUE... EVEN IF THEY ARE IN THE HIGHER DAN LEVEL... AND YES!!! In my road I met many 6th , 7th and up Dan with really poor knowledge and technique...
  • Bob Mangan
    Great article Jesse. "Keep The Martial Arts Flame Burning"

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