Essay on the subject of mental attitude and technical knowledge as a karate instructor , by Carl Gigg, Yondan.

As an instructor, you need to have a positive attitude. You have to have a passion for the art and a willingness and determination to understand and pass on the knowledge. You have to be strong of mind, to put yourself through continued learning and training to become a good instructor.

A positive mind set will keep a group of students more motivated than a raft of negativity. Although errors need to be addressed, the affirmation of a technique performed well will more than balance the few comments of a more negative nature. Even if there is little to be celebrated, it is good to find something, to keep a student’s mood lifted.

Use your positivity to find an area of a student’s technique to praise to keep their energy level up. Sometimes it is not the student you want to improve that you will give the good feedback to, but someone performing well. This can also raise the mood and the level of effort around the dojo floor. This positive attitude is also for your own motivation. You have to believe in yourself, your ability and what you are trying to achieve. You also have to believe in your students. To want to push them, to be the best they can be and for you to be the best for them.

Along with a positive attitude, the instructor must be determined and resilient. You need the determination, to keep pushing, yours and your student’s abilities and understanding. Resilience will help you with the knock backs. The days where it seems none of them are listening, or interested in what you are trying to teach. Another part of your mental attitude is to be understanding. You have to understand that students learn at different rates. Understanding that sometimes students have external influences affecting them. Maybe a student has a personal issue, but by being there despite it, is showing strength of character and determination themselves. Accepting this is a good step forward.

Aside from the mental attitude, technical knowledge is paramount. To teach something correctly, you must first understand it. Not just the technique or the form, but the feel of it. You have to live it and experience it. Know how it feels from the beginning, how to build it. Push yourself to execute any technique effectively. If a technique is long, strong and low, then it must be understood as such and demonstrated as such. The technique is the technique. It should be learnt and taught accurately. Not altered to suit you. Save that for making your karate fit yourself.

When teaching, it is important to keep the technique pure, as it is intended and has been passed down from Sensei to Sensei. A good instructor will demonstrate with skill and enthusiasm. More students will learn by visibly seeing the technique than it being verbally explained to them.

The understanding of technique cannot just be learnt from a single lesson or course. It needs to be practiced, researched. Often to unlock a techniques true potential takes research into other arts or styles. Styles that may be linked historically can open doors to application. But to do this successfully you must understand your own style.

So, although you maybe the person in the position to stand at the front and teach, you need to push your own development. To constantly expand your understanding and ability to perform the art effectively. As you expand your knowledge of techniques, you must also keep faithful to the basics.

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