Instructor Or Life Coach? – Teach Principles!

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Jun 7th, 2017

Yes, it's been quite a while since you've read a new MALC newsletter! I'm responsible for that lapse and I apologize. The last 90 days have been a challenge to my time management skills. I've finally completed the following projects:

MHt. Certification - Master Hypnotist
Advanced Reiki Training (Level A)
The Competent Communicator designation and required High Impact Leadership project for Toastmasters International
Dual Life Coaching Certifications
Spiritual/Wellness coach through the Association for Research and Enlightenment (Edgar Cayce Center)
Business/Personal Development coach through the International Hypnosis Federation

All of this was done while maintaining my 40 hour per week "real job" as a Health, Safety, & Fleet manager, sustaining my other daily practices, and training in Kenpo a minimum of 2 to 3 hours per week.

I make no excuses! I am back on track with writing and this article actually comes out of my most recent Life Coach training. One of my hypnotherapy mentors, Peter Woodbury, MSW a trainer for A.R.E. Life Coaching, asked me, So, why life coaching, Dennis? My immediate answer, with little conscious thought, was "Hell, Peter, I've taught Kenpo for over 30 years, I've been life coaching most of my career!" We shared a laugh. Peter has also been involved in the Martial Arts for a long time. My answer forced me, once again, to reflect on the ever-changing Martial Arts scene and my experiences with it.

Martial Arts instructors need to have solid technical ability and good teaching skills. But, during my years as an instructor, I've also been asked to help students as they were: getting married, getting divorced, going to graduate school, having babies, dealing with cancer, and coming back from war. Somehow, learning the required studio curriculum didn't prepare me for THAT PART of my role as instructor! As advanced teachers and professors of the Marital Arts many of us have dealt with similar challenges from our students.

In the past, and perhaps in your studio now, a Martial Arts teacher was a trusted mentor, someone a student could confide in. My question? Are we preparing our students, the next generation of instructors, for the, not so technical, questions their students might be asking them? How do we help these new instructors build the necessary skills to be able to help when their students need it most?

The answer: Teach from larger principles instead of from the specifics of techniques

.For example: A student comes to you with a financial issue. Sword of Destruction or Attacking Mace won’t save him from this attack, but Margin for Error will!

Margin for Error – The execution of a defensive and/or offensive move which, when delivered, gives you greater latitude to work with in the in the event of error or miscalculation

.Using this principle as a starting point you can coach the student to develop a better budget, create an emergency fund, and, who knows, by applying this principle, he may be able to pay his studio dues next month.

An instructor may be called on to work with a couple having issues in their marriage. By suggesting the couple apply the Three Points of View, they may begin to develop a more unbiased perspective on their issues (see definitions). The Third Point of View - a position of objectivity is a necessity for any instructor, or spouse, to remain emotionally “neutral” during a heated conflict. These two examples come directly from my personal experiences as a young instructor while teaching in New Orleans.

Finally, as Martial Arts instructors we must understand the importance of the environment we create in our studios. It’s a principle of psychology that social interactions can influence cognitive, as well as, personal development (Vygotsky). By emphasizing principles, the universal truths contained in or Art, we focus first on our student’s personal development. Then, we can move on to the specifics of Basics, Forms, and Freestyle.

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.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

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