The moment a martial artist becomes an instructor, he realizes how difficult and challenging it is to teach.
The reality of teaching reveals itself in a completely different dimension.
It’s like for Neo to discover the Matrix, but without the burden of being considered the Chosen One who will save humanity from slavery.
At least, I really hope you don’t take teaching this way!
How to prepare a lesson
The skills of a good teacher go far beyond knowing how to perform a technique and knowing how to explain it.
Among the many skills required, knowing how to prepare a lesson is a fundamental one.
Especially at the beginning of one’s career as a teacher, and it can happen that the lessons are a set of techniques that come after a warm-up, and before a cool-down phase at the end and that these “bookend” activities are always the same, regardless of the content of the lesson
I want to reassure you: it is absolutely normal, but I also want to tell you that you can do better than that.
Just as our brain works as part of a network, strengthening and solidifying links between different elements, a good lesson is capable of doing the same if it follows the same logic.
In a very pragmatic way, this means that the warm-up is a physical and mental preparation for the subsequent techniques and that the techniques are a preparation for the skill you want the class to achieve and furthermore, that the skill you want the class to achieve in the end is the purpose of the lesson itself.
A practical example of a lesson
I can give you a practical example.
In the warm-up I insert balance and pirouette exercises on one leg.
The technique is a backward spinning kick.
The action I want to reproduce is to use the kick in backward rotation on an advancing opponent.
The purpose of the lesson is to teach students the right timing and distance to land a kick in rotation backwards in the context of an opponent who is pressing forward.
There are many ways to make a series of connections like in the lesson I described.
What I find simpler is to start with the competence I want the class to develop.
Use “the sixth sense” !
Just like in preparing a story with a strong twist.
In the film “The sixth sense” every clue leads to the final revelation and this revelation makes the viewer’s mind go backwards in reconstructing the true meaning of the whole story.
Do the same thing.
What do I want your students to find out?
What will be the revelation they will have?
Once the goal has been identified then break down the skills that are needed in relation to the technique and the situation.
Once this is done you can prepare the “clues” and gradually disseminate them throughout the lesson.
The experience and the ability to feel the pulse of the class allows over time the possibility to create extremely effective lessons.
Teaching exactly as in “The Matrix” is not possible, but in my experience this way is the closest available.
You will immediately notice results and it will make it easy for you to keep the focus of the lesson without forgetting anything. After all, the system of mental connections that you are offering to the students also works for you who will have to remember the lesson.
Finally: If you have never seen “The Sixth Sense” and “The Matrix” know that I am very concerned about your cultural background.
My advice is to fix it before anyone finds out.