What do martial arts teachers need to know, other than their system?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by jwinch2, May 27, 2014.

  1. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    I think that pretty much all of us would agree that simply knowing the art that you practice, and being able to perform the skills associated with it at a high level, is not enough. I would imagine that all of us have encountered people that were incredibly skilled, but could not pass on that skill to others effectively. In the Filipino Martial Arts, this is incredibly common. As pretty much everyone here is aware, it is only in recent times that curriculum have been established for most FMA styles and systems, and even today, it is very common to see people teach in the old way where things get taught with little to no plan being put in place on what information is being presented, how demonstration and instruction should be done, properly applying feedback protocols and schedules, practice schedule design, etc. In addition, basic knowledge of human physiology and biomechanics is often lacking.

    With that in mind, I respectfully suggest that all who are teaching, and who wish to teach, read the following three books. They are very short, and are geared towards practitioners. In particular, I recommend the third one (if you are only going to read one, read that one). The teaching of physical skills is really what it is about at the most basic level.


    http://www.amazon.com/Sport-Mechani...&sr=1-4&keywords=sport+physiology+for+coaches

    http://www.amazon.com/Sport-Physiol...&sr=1-1&keywords=sport+physiology+for+coaches

    http://www.amazon.com/Sport-Skill-I...d_sim_b_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=15W2PJ3EAX44BD1Z31CQ


    In case you are wondering who the heck I am and why I am recommending these things (I am just trying to establish my bona fides, not be cocky here), my graduate degrees are in exercise physiology and biomechanics. I have taught courses at the undergrad as well as graduate level on exercise physiology, biomechanics, motor learning and skill acquisition, etc., and have mentored as well as personally published many research projects in this area. I serve as an expert reviewer for over a dozen peer-reviewed scientific journals in these areas as well as a subject matter expert for professional certifications, grant reviews, professional societies, textbook reviews, etc.

    (sorry if I came across sounding like an arrogant jerk there).


    It is also true that there are tons and tons of bad information out there, as well as commonly perpetuated myths. For example:
    - Muscle memory
    - Stretching before exercise prevents injury, improves performance, decreases soreness, etc.
    - Perfect practice makes perfect performance
    - Lactic acid buildup causes muscle soreness


    In the Filipino Martial Arts, it is not uncommon to hear that the arts are very "scientific" in their strategy, movements, etc. I respectfully submit that our training methods, knowledge, etc. should be just as scientific.


    I hope that this is taken in the spirit that it is intended, which is simply as something which can help us all get better, and not my trying to be a jerk.

    Best regards,

    Jason
     
  2. Jack Latorre

    Jack Latorre Siyam

    Nice post, Jason.

    I've always been fascinated with pedagogy...which is why I became a teacher to begin with (drawing and painting initially, then Pekiti-Tirsia). I had always admired the teaching approach of some of the different teachers I've had in different subject matters over the years.

    It's hard to distill one common thread among all these disparate teaching personalities (as I don't find any one institutionalized method to meet the needs of all learners).

    With that said, most of the fantastic teachers I've had we're able to elicit the best performances from me AND my fellow classmates by keeping the new material-to-be-learned relevant to our pre-existing body of knowledge. It would seem like a "no duh" sort of thing, but it can be easy for any instructor to rely on mere rote instruction simply because it has "worked" for "some" folks in the past. And if the instructor is to establish and maintain this relevance of new material, he/she will be more efficient in doing so by having a good working knowledge of EACH STUDENT as time passes.

    From a martial standpoint, Eric Knaus explained it akin to surfing...that once you mastered the art for yourself, it was easier to lead others through the experience (as an experienced surfer could not only surf well, but could do it well while monitoring how the other surfers around him were doing and helping them adjust themselves according to the conditions they were experiencing right then and there).

    Personally, this means lots of meaningful basics for my students...and having them work those basics in as many different relevant situations so they can have "generalization under varying circumstances" as best as they can make those connections.

    When I go to different places, I do like to scope out different martial arts schools...Filipino or not...because I get to see how different instructors present their material to a body of disparate learners. Just like being a student teacher, it's good to watch teachers TEACH...and decide which methods are the most meaningful and which may need tweaking.

    Best,

    Jack A. Latorre
    Mataas Na Guro
    Pekiti-Tirsia International
    www.ptiacademy.com




    Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk
     
  3. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member


    Agreed that there are individual differences, but the principles will be the same. Regardless of personality, the trend over time should be for a decreasing frequency and predictability of feedback, decreasing reliance on demo, more randomization in practice, etc. This does not happen in days, weeks, or even months, but rather years down the road, after thousands and thousands of hours of training and takes place on a continuum. The actual process may look different from person to person, but the general progression should be the same when teaching any kind of physical skill.

    The highest form of learning is one who can identify their own mistakes and self-correct. If the proper processes are not followed, this will not occur, or it may simply take far longer than it should.

    Cheers Jack.
     
  4. Jack Latorre

    Jack Latorre Siyam

    The end result of what you describe seems to me a bit less about the teaching technique (which still factors in) and more about the kind of student/practitioner at hand...that kind of progression initially happens with seasoned guidance, but develops into self-awareness/reflection once three things happen:

    A) the practitioner is provided the proper body of knowledge to be learned ...which the INSTRUCTOR provides...

    B) that body of knowledge is given functional relevance across several contexts...which the INSTRUCTOR guides the class based on the pre-existing sphere of experience/knowledge that each STUDENT brings...

    C) and the kind of diligence and sensible practice that the STUDENT decides to invest into their own learning. Despite those variations into sensible pedagogy and personality, it's this aspect which I believe ultimately separates those sheep and goats...

    Great teaching seems to happen when students are inspired to do their best kind of learning, regardless of pace or subject.

    So I suppose this boils down to which instructors seem to inspire their students to work hard to injure/maim/slay one another to such a degree that they develop self-actualization and criticism during the process? Jesting...just jesting...sort of.

    Best,

    Jack A. Latorre
    Mataas Na Guro
    Pekiti-Tirsia International
    www.ptiacademy.com


    Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk
     
  5. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    True to a point. Instructor knowledge, and student motivation is incredibly important. What I am talking about however is the nuts and bolts of designing training sessions.

    For example, let's take one thing: practice schedule design. Beginners do well from repetition, which would be referred to as blocked practice. So, if you were planning on teaching 3 skills that day you might approach it in the following fashion: AAA, BBB, CCC. The problem with this is that once someone moves beyond the beginning stage, blocked practice does not work. It creates a false sense of performance as it inflates practice performance, but actual test performance (in this case sparring or an actual fight) suffers. Ever wonder why some intermediate and advanced practitioners cannot pull off the techniques of their system in sparring or even a real fight? The reason for this is simple, in the real world we do not know what order we are going to have to do skills in and we will not get 10 chances to do them right before moving on, and we also have someone trying to prevent us from doing those skills successfully (you have probably seen the same thing in sports where you have practice all stars who cannot perform in the game environment). Over time, these beginners should be moved to a practice schedule that looks more like ABC, CAB BAC, etc., and as they become more advanced, the order should be completely randomized. In short, the learner should be able to perform any of the required skills in any order with only one repetition and with someone trying to stop them. However, if all that is used is blocked practice, which is often the case even with advanced practitioners, this will not happen. The old phrase "train like you fight" holds true.

    Often, it is not the ability of the instructor to teach a skill, or the motivation and dedication of the student, it is that the process employed has failed them both. The same thing I noted above with practice schedules can be looked at with feedback, demonstration and instruction, attentional focus, mental practice, etc.

    There is a distinct science of motor skill learning and unfortunately few coaches, and even fewer martial arts instructors, know it. And let's be clear, I am not trashing instructors here. This situation does not exist because they are stupid or don't care, it is simply because they have not been exposed to it. If they were, I honestly believe that most would want to incorporate these things into their teaching. Most martial arts instructors are not teaching to make money but rather for love of their art and the desire to help people defend themselves and other innocents. As a good friend of mine who is a Japanese stylist put it "I have a real job to make money. I teach martial arts to make Budoka".
     
  6. Jack Latorre

    Jack Latorre Siyam

    In regards to the training structure (either self-guided or through an instructor who has a good grasp on transmitting functionality)...

    My good friend, Wes Tasker, and I have had this discussion on more than a few occasions...and it was pleasant to find that we had similar views regarding the cultivation of functionality...for both ourselves and our respective student bodies.

    My approach lingered with isolating a given technique, making it functional within the confines of the "Petri dish" scenario of drills, divine the instances of where that technique "appears" in the flux of things, and then transpose it in a controlled sparring environment...and then assimilating it into the current standing lexicon of existing functional techniques.

    Mr. Tasker had a more formalized and articulate structure which reflected my own efforts. His structure is as follows, and is described here using stick although the structure works across weapon categories.

    In this example, we shall investigate making the umbrella/payong technique functional, understanding that it is a stand-in for virtually any technique.

    -high predictability/low risk: e.g. Your partner feeds solely angle one and two at a metered pace (high predictability) using only a padded stick (low risk). The practitioner works on recognizing when the proper opportunity is to perform the technique without getting bashed for periodically being off in its performance.

    -low predictability/low risk: e.g. Your partner feeds any number of varying strikes (low predictability) using only a padded stick (low risk). The practitioner now must work harder to recognize the proper environment for the technique to be functional because the stimuli is wider and varied.

    -high predictability/high risk: e.g. Your partner goes back to feeding angles one and two (back to high predictability)...but using rattan (high risk compared to a padded counterpart). This step in the progression uses that risk as a motivator for precision and good structure...

    -low predictability/high risk: e.g. Your partner now feeds pretty much anything (low predictability) with rattan (high risk), and hopefully the previous steps in the training progression have been suitable "training wheels" to help the practitioner not be overwhelmed here...and the high risk is what keeps the motivation to be strong in the given technique's performance.

    Given this particular structure, a student can feel as if they are not merely being receptacles of a myriad of technique, but functional practitioners of the techniques they have worked for.

    That...as well as good motivators of instruction, and a sensible curriculum to work from...are all things a student should search for...or discipline themselves to develop.

    Best,

    Jack A. Latorre
    Mataas Na Guro
    Pekiti-Tirsia International
    www.ptiacademy.com

    p.s. Many thanks to Mataas Na Guro Tasker for sharing his thoughts on a kindred subject...as well as Tuhon McGrath for putting us through training that brought out some of our best fighting qualities with his instruction.


    Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2014
  7. MacJ_007

    MacJ_007 Junior Member

    Jwinch2, I've been reading a lot of your post lately and you really seem to know what is going on with the current training instructions nowadays. The fact that you specialize in your field proves that you really know what you are talking about. I'm just not sure if you have begin to teach this way or have the method to teach this method currently. But the concept that you currently believe is already existent in our art which is Tabimina System. You can read my blog that I wrote in our old website and also the blogs of our students who experience our art. Take note that our students are sometimes Masters of different arts and experienced fighters who in turn are also looking for that missing link in their current system.

    http://blog.tabiminabalintawak.com/the-pitfall-of-anticipation

    Cheers,
    Jojo Ygay
    QC of Tabimina System International
     
  8. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Thanks for the kind words. At this time, no I am not an instructor, and have a long way to go towards achieving that level of knowledge and skill in the system.

    Best regards,
     
  9. MacJ_007

    MacJ_007 Junior Member

Share This Page