Six Steps To Hands-on Student Training

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Feb 14th, 2015

 You understand the importance of martial arts training, but have you ever struggled to keep the attention of every student in your class? I’ve outlined some ideas to assist you in preparing for your next training session. Here are some basic strategies that can make training more effective for you and your students.

Step 1: Create a lesson plan
When planning your training, considered who you will be training, what you want them to learn, and how you can measure success. Do you write down the lessons you want to cover or do you just “wing it”? A written lesson plan can go a long way to help you make sure you cover everything you’d like your class to experience. Will you be training children or adults?  Don’t be excessively technical, with either group, unless it’s absolutely required for the lesson. It’s always best to present information in a language that the students can easily understand.
Step 2: Evaluate the skill level of the class
Spend some class time both during and after the warm up analyzing the level of skill of each of the members of the class. The warm up can give you insights into levels of flexibility, range of motion, upper and lower body strength, etc. Training basic movements, especially those related to your lesson plan, can generate understanding of an individual student’s application of contouring, dead motion deception, body alignment, and other Principles of Motion.
Step 3: Presentation
Make sure you present effectively to all the different learning styles in the class. There are three primary learning styles that describe how your students, and all people, take in information, especially new information. Some learn best by seeing (visual learners). Others learn more effectively by hearing a description of the lesson (auditory learners). Still others learn best by doing (kinesthetic or tactile learners). Understanding a student’s primary and secondary learning modalities and preparing a presentation that includes visual demonstrations, explanations, but only as detailed as necessary (refer to step 1), and lots of physical, hands-on activities are essential in getting your points across to all learning styles.
Step 4: Application
Make sure that everyone in the class is actively training or "walking the walk." Having students and their instructors adhere to a simple training requirement such as wearing a groin cup or the proper uniform goes a long way in making everyone feel a part of a cohesive team. Students will model your behavior. You need to set the example. If you simply lecture and demonstrate, students will perceive that teachers don’t “work out”. Get out on the training floor. Let the students work the exercise on you. This (2nd person point of view) will allow you to evaluate the student’s progress more effectively.
Step 5: Assessment
The assessment is based on the goals for training that you establish in your lesson plan. Create a way to measure student success, whether that is through more effective striking power (again the 2nd person point of view is invaluable here), measuring student speed or flexibility, how well they’ve memorized a new exercise, or some other method. You need to have some method of determining the effectiveness of your lesson. Without this you will not know if your lesson plan or your approach to training is effective, or how well your students understood the lessons.
Step 6: Comments
Students, especially adult students, can be an abundant source of feedback on what works and what doesn't. Don’t hesitate to ask them. In my early years as a teacher, I was blessed to have many knowledgeable adult students, some of whom were professional educators. Their feedback and “Corrective Adjustments” helped me become a much better instructor. Children can be an even better gauge of your effectiveness. If they are bored or inattentive, you can be sure your lesson missed its mark. You can keep your student’s training fresh and effective, by gathering input, objectively measuring their progress, and leading by example. Remember, the quality of your student’s movement and understanding is a direct reflection on your ability as a teacher.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

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