Teaching Kung Fu is art work, it truly a display of a painter painting a beautiful portrait. It is a complex art form and to truly be good at it the small detail things must be learned and displayed. Therefore it makes the learning process truly difficult but effective when learned and displayed properly.
This could be the reason why there is more karate schools then Kung Fu schools because Karate is simple and easy to learn. And some of the so-called Kung Fu schools around have had to sacrifice one or the other. Meaning focus more on the big move and less on the small detail thing and keep students longer or focus on detail and have a hand full of students.
You see most Americans want things fast and right away so you lose them when it becomes hard and difficult. In that is a shame because that is when the real learning begins. So over the years we have had to adapt and change the required curriculum taught in order to keep students for long periods of time. And this approach which has allowed martial arts as a hole to thrive, it has effected the quality of black belts, because the requirements are not as high. To get even more detailed, if the students are not being rewarded then they will move on to another school so there goes loyalty. You see 9 out of every one hundred students are truly dedicated to true value of Kung Fu and will stay around regardless of what. And every good school needs a few strong human beings, to be an example to the masses.
The teacher’s mission is on going it is so hard today because, in the old days you give your heart and soul to the student and leave a legacy to your senior disciple. But not today students just jump from school to school when personal growth gets tough and that party is disrespecting the instructor. So l learned to become tough skin and not to personalize their departure, but it still hurts if you’re truly a dedicated instructor.
The long term teaching plan has to always be the goal along with the personal expression of the student’s true self. The teacher must use their expression of the traditional techniques taught in order to bring life to the curriculum. Because Kung Fu is moving and adapting like nature, it is alive and well. And among 100 students in a class each must be taught personally. The traditional protocol allows the instructor to control the class structure and have everyone moving as one the big level but growing as an individual internally. The rules of protocol are things like bowing before entering and leaving the school, meditating before class, shows respectful attitude and body language at all times. Do not interrupt instructors doing class, hold questions until first experiencing the drill and most importantly no chit chatting during class.
This is from the old school of thought, forget that first name bases stuff, it should be shifu, sir or mam use for everyone even the 2-½ year old kids. Also when the students are taught to show respect, the instructor must give respect in return. By starting class on time not teaching past the time and not asking them to do things they would not do themselves.
Each class must be taught with a teaching plan that must be formatted before each class. I mean everything must be written down in detail. It is your map for progress; it allows your instructor not to loose point of what is important for the student. The “class agenda” as we call them should be made up based on the student’s struggle in and outside of class the days or weeks before. You see class is not just about the physical skills needed but life skills and philosophy as well. It covers individual basics such as strikes, footwork, stances, kicks and sweeps and then blocks on trapping skill at least three days a week. Then there is the forms, two person fighting set, weapons, sparring grappling and self-defense for the next three days.
Also warm ups, cardio, strength, and flexibility is a part of every class, the tempo of each class varies from high intensity to medium intensity all the way down to slow. Each of these levels of class serve a purpose for example the high intensity is to exhaust them to a point where they can’t think about the next move but just flow in the medium pace. One it allows them to work hard and think in the present, while the slow pace allows the student to correct there skill and work on the small details.
Detail notes on each student should be kept along with good job cards that should be mailed daily along with student’s attendance. Compliments on students progress on in activities in and outside the school, showing them how they compliment one another is important to student’s longevity.
These things make Kung Fu a way of life and it can not be taught any other way. Constant calls and regular private lessons along with group ones are key to help the student feel confident about the learning process of this complex art. The key to helping the students learning process remain enjoyable is keeping them in the now, helping them to not let their minds wonder to what could be or what is going to happen, only on what is going on that moment. They have to think about nothing, so therefore the mind must be empty and allow that present moment to fill it up.
The true secrets of teaching Kung Fu is having all the things needed for class but do not lose the freedom of creative expression. This is what makes class fun- your ability to be open to new ideas as a teacher in order to experience what the student are presenting you with. It is like a dance and you follow their steps and lead them to the goal in a harmonious manner.
Through this method of teaching we promote the growth process of true human potential and through their every effort and action inner strength is gained. And as a teachers we must recognize that the student’s emotion that are expressed through the technique, is about reading their body language, facial expression and eyes. You see Kung fu can not be learned or taught in a lazy manner or with a closed mind because then everything become rigid and stiff. Kung Fu is free flow and must flow and be use to bring forth the students great spirit from within. A spirit that greater than ambition, confidence, determination, vision, etc. Everything is transcended by it, it is the chi of life a true expression of ones inner self into the outward.
As a teacher we must remember that we are only guided to inner truth and we are never the giver. So as a catalyst we must continue to strive for the true expression of this complex art. And what is art; an expression of life that transcends both time and space.
KEY POINTS OF TEACHING THE COMPLEX ART OF KUNG FU
LEAD BY EXAMPLE, SHOW AND ASK NOT TELL- you should always make sure you are carrying yourself in a positive manner and go above and beyond the call of duty. Then others around you will do the same.CONDUCT YOURSELF IN A RESPECTFULL POSITIVE MANNER IN AND OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY – you can not lead two lives, who you are is who you are in front of the student body as well as behind closed doors. Don’t be a fake leader.BE HUMAN NOT SUPER HUMAN BY ADMITTING YOUR SHORT COMINGS AND MISTAKES – no one is perfect and if you present yourself as not being perfect but always striving for perfection you will be looked up to and respected for your honesty.DEVELOP GREAT PEOPLE AND THEN YOU WILL HAVE GREAT CHAMPIONS- sometimes it is about letting go and allowing others to become great in order for you to move to a higher plateau.BE PREPARED ON TIME AS WELL AS THE FIRST TO ARRIVE AND THE LAST TO LEAVE – always putting your best foot forward, the hard worker will be rewarded with out even having to ask for it.GIVE CREDIT TO A HIGER BEING THEN YOURSELF AND TEACHER – only spirituality will take you above and beyond all situationsSTAY IN SHAPE AND MAINTAIN A HIGH STANDARD IN YOUR SKILL – practice what you preachPAY DO RESPECT TO YOUR INSTRUCTOR – highlight and promote others for a job well done because then they will be even more willing to go above and beyond the call of dutyBE INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY SERVICE AND CHARITY – in order to receive you must give, give, give it away first!DISCUSS THE PAINFULL PROCESS OF LEARNING WITH POSITIVE FEEDBACK – praise, correct, praise – never allow anyone feel that their best was not good enoughKEEP CLASS CONTINUALLY FLOWING WITH POSITIVE ENERGY – give more than 100% of what you have – this allows others to then give 100% in return not 80%TRY TO KEEP DISCUSSIONS ALONG THE LINE OF THE STUDENTS LEVEL OF COMPREHENSION – do not talk over them but to them.MAKE SURE YOU DEMONSTRATE ALL TECHNIQUES WITH PERFECTION – keep your skill level sharp because after all your student will only retain 80% of what you give themGIVE STUDENTS HIGH FIVES, THUMBS UP, HEAD NODS AND SMILES – everyone wants to be praised, adults, teens and children alikeREFER TO EACH STUDENT WITH SIR AND MAM – to get respect you must first give respect
WILLIE “THE BAM” JOHNSON
Kung fu, Martial arts, Martial arts industry
Black Belt Magazine
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