What do I look for in a student?
As an instructor from the moment I first meet a student and start teaching them, I start evaluating them, sizing them up so to speak. I of course watch their physical skills, but I also watch for their attitude, their willingness to learn, their willingness to obey. Over time you get to know the student, you see the student have triumphs, you see the student have failures, you see them have great days and bad days, you see the student doing boring mundane tasks, and you get to see them try and learn new exciting skills. How they handle all of these things helps me to determine how far I can take the student in their learning the martial arts, and what type of material I’ll show them.
I’ve decided to write a short series on what I look for in a student. Not every student will at the beginning posses all or any of these attributes, but over time many students will begin to display some combinations of these attributes.
Are they teachable, are they willing to learn?
One of the first things I look for in a student is, are they teachable and are they eager to learn? I look for the students who gain an understanding of one subject want to learn more. Say for instance Kata; after learning a particular kata and gaining mastery of that kata for their next belt level, some students are eager to learn another kata. I am generally glad to teach them another kata if they continue to practice and uphold the katas they learned before which they will be tested on for their next rank. Doing a higher ranked kata is meaningless if the student can’t remember the katas they will be tested on at their next test.
|Brooke performing Anyo Dalawa|
Occasionally I have students who I show special forms (kata or anyos) that are above their ranks or outside of their art for their growth. I have one student currently who after learning her katas for her next rank, I taught her the first two forms or anyos from the other martial art I teach. It helped her gain different insight into applications of the movements in the forms found within the TKD forms and the Modern Arnis katas. Brooke has now not only learned these two extra anyos but also her kata for her rank after next rank (as a side note this was written before Brooke was unanimously promoted two belts levels on her test by the examination board due to her knowing all of her material for that level she was promoted to and her work ethic).
|Bryce demonstrating Kwang Gye|
I have another student who has very good kicking abilities, and there is a TKD kata that has some difficult balance moves along with advanced kicking maneuvers beyond his current belt level. In our system this kata will be used for 1st and/or 2nd degree black belt (it is an alternate kata for 1st black and required for 2nd black) so I selected Bryce, due to his kicking skill, to learn this kata early so that he can challenge himself to master the advanced balance and kicking maneuvers.
|Matthew and Jackie performing a double stick drill|
Getting ready for an upcoming demo (it has since passed) one of our students selected showing a double stick drill from Modern Arnis even though he is a young Blue belt in our TKD program. He chose to do something that interested him and yet was very different and outside of his comfort zone (his normal art) and wanted to demo that in front of others. Of course I complied and assigned Matthew to one of Modern Arnis brown belts to work with and he has exceeded all of our expectations with not only his willingness to learn several new drills for the demo but his willingness to practice outside of class so he looks good doing the drills for the demo. (Again on a side note not only has Matthew learned the double stick drills for the demo, but he went onto learn two empty hand Anyos and four solo baston Anyos from our Modern Arnis program on top of that.)
Sometimes I’ll show the classes a new drill or a crossover type of a drill from my Modern Arnis program to the TKD program to give the students a different drill. I do this to not only educate the student but also to look out for those that are teachable because they will be the ones who are really trying. They will be the ones who are trying to do the drill and not play around, they will be the ones who after being corrected will start correcting themselves to adapt to the new challenges presented by learning a new skill. While in the confines of that particular class (or classes) they might not get to really work on the drill long enough to gain mastery of it, I am still watching to see who is teachable and who is just playing around. On a daily basis I am constantly watching to see who will be ready to take the next step down the long road to martial arts mastery.