Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Being a high ranked student

Since I've started Karate I've been asked to aide others to learn their rank requirements.

It's been the normal thing to enter the dojo, and instead of training for myself, I would be asked to go to the side during class to help others. I realize that this is almost a common part of Martial Arts training.

Yet, I am starting to wonder about the reason why this is happening, and the pro/cons of having higher belts "teaching" lower belts.

More than once I've seen bad habits, wrong attitudes, errors, lack of proper knowledge, and mis-information taught to the lower belt. I believe that this isn't done on purpose, it's just the fact that someone who is still learning a skill would have a more difficult time transferring knowledge than one who had attained some mastery over the skill. I think that I can safely say that, even with people who have mastered a skill, not all of them are good teachers. Just because you can get a goal in hockey doesn't mean that you can help someone else learn how to do so.

Karate classes are rather short in time. You get only 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours to work with and some of that is spent in warm up.

I understand that there is a sense of responsibility that a high belt needs to exhibit and that helping lower belts learn could fulfill this, but I've seen that taken to the extreme where the position of high rank created a negative effect in the higher belt's behavior and they treated lower belts as inferior beings. The lower belt ends up getting confused, insulted, and discouraged. The higher belt doesn't gain anything positive from the experience because of the manner in which they taught.

Yes.. I've heard the concept that you learn more about your information when you are asked to teach it, but in my opinion, you have to have a solid foundation to be able to learn more. I believe that if the teacher does not have a good grasp of what they are doing in the first place, there is no way that they can "learn" more, and improve, by teaching.

I think that there are others ways of showing a growth in responsibility in the dojo for higher belts, and I'm wondering if teaching/correcting others should remain in the domain of the Instructor... and or a few selected students who have shown through their training, and example that they are capable of guiding others properly, and without teaching confusion.