Knowing how to get there

Today in most well run dojos every class, regardless of the age, or the rank, of the students involved, will always have as it's fundamental goal the continued advancement of all of the students in that class.


To help achieve this goal it is not uncommon for dojos to create more advanced training programs, ones that are limited to only a select number of senior black belts at any one time. These types of programs are usually geared towards enhancing the teaching skills of the students involved and are sometimes referred to as an "Instructor's Program".


In most cases those black belts accepted into such a program will already have clearly proven their dedication to the art of karate, and to their dojo. In addition, they will personally have achieved a high standard of excellence in the basic skills and fundamentals inherent to their particular style of karate.


Now regardless of who enters such a program, it is a fundamental fact that they too will still be on a learning curve of their own. As such it is expected that their participation in this type of a program will be over and above their own normal training. Once the senior students have been selected they themselves will usually undergo additional training through special classes where the primary lessons will focus on the art of "learning how to teach".


Teaching anything well is not a simple matter, it takes a special kind of person with a high level of dedication.


As such students should never be accepted just becasue they have paid a price, or achieved a certain rank.


As is customary, who, what, and when, these Sempai's are allowed to teach, will remain most often under the control of the dojo's Sensei or Chief Instructor.


Once a curriculum has been established, and the classes handed out the Sempai conducting any class should be allowed the freedom to teach the students in his or her group basically uninterrupted. This is necessary in order for those on the instructor's program to have some freedom to develop their own method and style of teaching, and to be allowed the opportunity learn from their own mistakes. Doing so will also instil in the students under their care, the clear understanding that the Sempai's lessons are to be accepted, remembered, and practiced, as any other lesson, and as one of the many criteria required for the students continued advancement.


Of course the Sensei or Chief Instructor should always step in and offer advice during any class when ever it is evident that the person doing the teaching is outside the scope of the dojo's currently accepted practices, outside of their own personal ability, or when it becomes obvious that they are unaware of a students genuine need for correction and or assistance.


Given time and with proper coaching, however, the Sempai's in the program will in all likelihood soon learn how to recognize each student's individual leaning curve, and they will become familiar with the rate of progress at which they are most comfortable in order to maximize their own personal skills.


This level of ability to learn will of course vary from person to person, and will of course be based on many factors. Therefore, it is important for the Sempai's to keep the lesson being taught to any group as a whole, within the frame work of those techniques, and fundamentals, that all of the students with a group can keep up with.


This is very important, since it is often this lack of ability to progress at the same rate as others in their peer group, that can often lead a student dropping out of karate altogether. So every effort should be made to make sure that when the level of instruction in any class reaches a point where the knowledge being dispensed can no longer be understood at the same rate by all the students, then this is the time when the Sempai should break the class into smaller groups which should be based on each students ability to learn, and clearly understand everything that is being taught.


Since it is crucial to a students development, all of the basic fundamentals of karate, down to the smallest and most seemingly insignificant detail, in what ever aspect of karate the class is focusing on, should be taught first. Afterwards the instructor can move on and teach advanced theory or technique if time permits. Since the layering of any knowledge must always be based on an upward, rather than a lateral, or downward learning curve, it is very important to each students progress that every effort be made to see that no steps in this learning process are left out.


It should also be noted by all the Sempai's that what works in one class, and with that group of students, will not necessarily work the same way with the next group.


Each class is different.


Each student is unique.


Thus, innovation and variety, are two tools that these new instructor's must quickly learn to master.


The following are some guidelines that this type of program may include, and or require:


1. The number of participant's may be limited at any one time.


2. A greater leadership role in the dojo.


3. Separate specialized classes.


4. A complete knowledge of all kata and associated bunkai up to current rank.


5. Written monthly progress reports.


6. An expanded knowledge of karate history.


7. Not all students might complete the course.


8. The program will have a time limit.


9. Completing the course will mean a higher expectaion in all aspects of the students karate.


Within a dojo as elsewhere, teaching is not just a matter of knowing a lot of facts and details.


Like karate, teaching is also an art.


It entails having the ability to convey facts and details correctly, and in a manner which allows others to learn and progress at a satisfactory rate, not only to the Sensei, but also satisfactory to the student themselves.


If you feel an Instructor's Program would work at your dojo, and benefit your students consider creating one, but be sure and give it the time it deserves.


Do so, and chances are in the long run both you and your students will be that much better off, and a lot further down the karate road.



Teaching others is a task best left

to those most qualified to do so.


Part the clouds - see the way.


"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution

of the human spirit through physical and mental training."

Sensei Peter Lindsay, Go Dan, (FSKA)