A Question one of my friends and collegues sent my way-

“Honorable question for colleagues, martial arts teachers, and students, all martial arts derivatives.
The world I grew up in, the generation that practiced in my time, is gone. no longer exist.
The way of training, from time to time, no longer occupies today.
When the teacher used to say something, no one asked: “why”?
When the teacher gave you a penalty of 1000 push-ups because you were late for the lesson in 5 minutes, it was not excessive or extreme sounding and no one argued.
People were practicing outside the classroom, over time, because they found it enjoyable and researching and empowering.
Today even though I ask and beg for them to practice outside of class, it doesn’t happen.
I have to treat the student as a person who practices at max two hours a week (if he comes to all classes and it never happens).
Sometimes I work on potted plants, what content can be given two hours a week? pattern? Combat practice? Base? Mental fitness and strengthening?
I would love to hear from teachers in the field, how they deal with the same issue and students in the field (no matter what craft) what they expect, get from the class, or what kind of practice they think is important.
I will thank you for your answers.


It is amazing how much things have changed in the world of martial arts even in the short decades since I have begun training. Hard workouts, regular sparring, conditioning, all these things were part of my training experience under my teachers as well, but as the question says, times have changed.


When it comes to teaching in a school with a student population I have come to some conclusions. First, most of the people in a martial arts school are not there to learn martial arts. They are getting some exercise, meeting new people, and having a social outing. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever and as such it means they will practice little to not at all and attend class instead but will enjoy themselves. These people are not every going to be great masters, likely not even ranked as “black belts” in their training lives. These people seem to make up about 80 percent of a club. Good clean fun.


Few people ever walk into a martial arts school with any idea of what is really going on in there. We are told various tropes and legends from movies and other entertainment and as such people have an idea of what they are going to a class to experience. The closer your class is to their expectations the more likely they are to enjoy it. Unfortunately, actual martial arts training is very rarely like anything you see in a movie training montage. These few people are willing to be open minded enough to have their ides of martial arts changed to become closer to what the truth really is. This means they will not have a problem with tough classes, difficult opponents to work with, or new material they need to drill. These are the few and far between students that will one day likely become instructors on a long enough timeline. They are there to learn what martial arts is, and then learn it properly.


So what can you teach in these situations? The 80 percent are going to learn only what they find interesting and then not practice it. I find the key is to rouse their interest in other parts of the art, some people like applications, others, forms. But most everyone likes real information and no secrets. In order for these people to gain real skills we have to engage their minds in a way that they want to do the practice. I find application and attention to detail tends to do this. This way they start to look deeper into the movements themselves as the teacher reveals things, they did not see in the art. This introspection is what leads students towards understanding and skill.


Slowly even the 80 percent will advance, they are just on the slightly longer 50 years to black belt plan.


The 20 percent keep you sane and happy. Give you a space to explore the art with people willing to train and experiment. Who knows maybe even among them there will be a Master in training?


However, the real likelihood of having to teach classes, for a long while, with only these 80 percent of students, is very high. So, as teachers, we still have to teach, not just entertain, our students. I tend to make my classes thematic so that everyone in the training room is working on the same principle for the evening. For example, if I am working on them like opening and closing gates of the body on an opponent I will teach all the beginners, intermediates, and advanced students different applications or exercises to work on. Then after some practice and correction, we apply the movement and work again towards correction and increasing speed and power and resistance. Ideally, everyone in the room will be getting the lesson about opening and closing gates even if everyone in the class seems to be doing different things. As I wrap things up, I get the students to explain what they were doing and how it works, and then major principles illustrated. Soon the room realizes the overall theme and investigate their lessons to see how it is being used in each movement. This tends to bring students towards introspection over time I find, and they start really observing what overall principles are being used each class. This is the method I use for most teaching situations and shows how a principle can be applied at different levels of thinking and skill. From there I just rotate topics. Sparring, Applications, Conditioning, Forms, Weapons, etc. but every class has a thematic element that will eventually tie all the classes together if a student is willing to take the time to see it.


Online Renegade Taijiquan Lessons patreon.com/rjma





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