Pick Your Battles

Teacher: “Switch your feet, you are doing the kata wrong, you need your other foot in front here.”

Student continues to use the wrong foot. Teacher gets frustrated, student gets frustrated, student eventually quits from frustration and feeling like a failure. Years later (s)he is attacked and killed. Or maybe their self esteem was so bad they began to experiment with drugs, or married an abusive partner. It wasn’t because they had the wrong foot in front that their life turned to ruin, or they died, it was because someone got frustrated with them for just being a kid.

Are the student’s important techniques correct? I think sometimes we as teachers worry about the wrong things. I care less which foot is in front but more if they have their front knee straight or bent in stance. Which foot they kick with matters less to me than the quality of the pivot, chamber, extension, body alignment and recoil. I watched a Grandmaster fail a student who didn’t know all the commands in Korean. The kid was devastated and it had nothing to do with learning to defend their life. I understand it’s about teaching them discipline, but our job is three fold and in this order:

  1. Give the student what they WANT!
  2. If it’s a kid, give the parents what they WANT!
  3. Then, if possible, over time, give them what they NEED.

We know what they need better than they do, they don’t have a clue and the parents may not either. If we get in a hurry and get pushy, they will quit and we’ve wasted our time. Take care of number 1 and 2 and when they get in that last year before Black Belt, then you got them hooked, and can really focus on what they NEED.

Being a Black Belt school means you focus on the big picture. Green belt, Blue belt, that’s for them to care about, I care only about getting them to Black Belt and earning it by getting what we know they really need.

Pick your battles and win the war.

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