In this blog I want to talk about teaching.
The martial arts is a minefield of politics and ego.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that, no matter how delicately you say things, someone will take offence or worse take it as a personal attack on their reputations or style.
We all look at things differently and that comes down to our own personal experiences and mental filters. I have stolen a lot over the years from some cracking instructors and thank them for all their help.
But the people I thank the most are the ones I see doing it wrong. They are the ones that make me try harder and look at what I do.
So before we go any further, these are my opinions and reflect my own personal view of my business. They are not mean to offend or call into question whatever business practices you have in place. They have come together over nearly 30 years in the arts but rest assured I will change if I find something better.
The big question for this blog is in the title, which one are you?
As most words are subjective to some degree we need some definitions, for which we’ll use http://www.collinsdictionary.com
If you doubt how much your personal experiences will affect the meaning of a word, consider this..
If I ask a room full of people to describe a balloon we could get an infinite number of answers. From big and red with a string on it, to long and blue tied into the shape of a dog.
Let look at definitions:
Black Belt – (noun)(martial arts)
1) a black belt worn by an instructor or expert competitor in the dan grades, usually from first to fifth dan
2) a person entitled to wear this
Coach – (noun)
4) a trainer or instructor ⇒ a drama coach
5) a tutor who prepares students for examinations
Instructor – (noun)
1) someone who instructs; teacher
2) (US & Canadian) a university teacher ranking below assistant professor
Teacher – (noun)
1) a person whose occupation is teaching others, esp children
2) a personified concept that teaches ⇒ nature is a good teacher
Now these are all good definitions, even though I left out the first 3 definitions for a coach. But I feel there is a bit missing, there is no mention of competence, qualifications or ability.
I think it can be taken as a given that a black belt needs to be earned and a suitable test of ability will have taken place. But this will be an in-house assessment which is often not accepted by other organisations.
The general public consider most black belts to be masters and therefore expert teachers, unfortunately most associations do not even test the candidates ability to teach. This leaves the door open for people to teach who aren’t fit for purpose.
Most sports and activities have governing bodies, they set the level of competency and knowledge that a teacher needs. They have all set out minimum standards and practices. Most have even gone the route of accredited qualifications from external awarding bodies.
The martial arts though, has no one/specific governing body to steer us in the right direction. It is fragmented and divided with major differences in techniques and belts in individual arts, let alone across styles and associations.
So where does that leave the level of teaching in martial arts, well in my opinion it is sadly lacking and far behind the needs of the students.
Please don’t take from that statement that I am criticising all martial arts instructors. That is far from the case, there are some incredible instructors out there. But i think that is more by luck rather than by design.
Teaching in the martial arts is often an association offered in-house course, normally a certificate of attendance with no real examination. This type of certification is not usually accepted by other organisations, meaning attendance of another in-house course to allow instructors to teach at seminars.
As the world we live in gets more litigious, the need to prove “due diligence” will become greater. I believe that if we are to progress and evolve, then we’ll need to match other professions and have formally recognised qualifications.
With that in mind, we have a minimum standard to become a registered instructor with the SBA. This includes a level 3 teaching/coaching qualification from a UK recognised awarding body. This is costly for instructors and although we run suitable courses, it is not a money making scheme as we do not require the course to be completed under us.
We have turned down some great instructors over the years, who wanted to join the SBA, as they didn’t believe in the need for qualifications.
Quoting tradition as a reason to avoid change is all well and good but I wouldn’t accept it from any of my daughter’s teachers. Students deserve the best instructor they can get, they are our customers after all.
To me, it’s all about raising the standards of the association through the instructors we have and therefore producing better students. I’ll let others worry about having large numbers of instructors and name dropping.
Some people use the saying “Quality over quantity”, I disagree I think your quality brings quantity.
Back to the question, which are you?
Leave your answer or comments in the box below.
For free advice on Teaching, Qualifications or training email Scottishbudo@aol.com
Speak to you soon..
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