On Your Own - Part 8

By Mark Brosten
Published on Jul 31st, 2012

Courage is essential for any student to grow personally or in their chosen Art. A strong mental defense and a commitment to self-improvement are also essential for progress. Having the courage to try, and learning how to deal with a mistake, is more valuable than simply knowing how to avoid error. Giving yourself permission to act in a challenging situation takes a great deal of courage. Without courage to take action, your methods, strategies, tactics, and Martial Arts skills are useless. You must be willing to take action, without action, nothing may be resolved. Another necessity for personal development is a qualified teacher.

As a teacher passes on his knowledge of the art there are a few things one must consider about teaching. A good teacher of any art will help their students grow through various training methods and practices, creating an environment that challenges the student’s skill level and creates a positive experience. A positive experience can have a large impact on whether the student continues their training. For example, falling off a horse and not having skills in falling diving or rolling may end the riding lessons quickly. Good experiences tempered by reality based training installs competence. The student may not have trained for the exact situation they may face, but through their training they develop the ability to make good choices while working through any novel and difficult situation.

Teaching a student to make decisions (choices) about their art should begin very soon in the relationship. In the art of self-defense students come to training for many different reasons. Some of the more traditional reasons are: to get into shape, defend one’s self, better personal discipline etc. These goals are soon met and the student may move on, thinking they have gotten all there is to get from the art. A similar situation might be a student who takes a pottery class, makes an ashtray, and thinks they can now make a porcelain tea pot. Training structures based on rote memorization and performance of Martial Arts sequences (Forms, Freestyle, etc.) can instill a student mindset of “O.K., I’ve got that, what do I need to do for the next belt rank?” These designs can foster the illusion of competence. True competence is about building self-reliance. Involving the student in making decisions (choices) helps the student to set training goals of their own. Instead of studio performance based on memorization, the rank test becomes a celebration of knowledge that the student actively helped to tailor, implement and achieve. With this structure, information no longer needs to come from “on high” but can be shared in both directions. This is a valuable format for the teacher, as well as, the student. For example, an emergency room doctor that specializes in car crashes probably knows quite a bit about the effect of collisional energy on the human body, even though they may only wear a yellow belt. Involving the student in training decisions builds self-reliance and can keep them inspired, inquisitive, and motivated for a lifetime.

There are many things that exemplify a good teacher and training environment, these are but a few. If you can listen and change often, your abilities as a martial artist and teacher will undoubtedly grow.

Of course, creating a training environment that fosters “free thinkers” will keep you challenged as a teacher. Your knowledge, research abilities, personal training and development must also continue to grow. This approach to training and teaching forces the instructor to keep progressing, not resting on past achievements. Developing a training environment where students ask “Why” and can think for themselves is sometimes a real pain in the ***.With a format like this, both the teacher and the student will need courage!

Filed under Instructors and Teaching

Author Bio :: Mark Brosten

Mark Brosten began his Martial Arts teaching career as an associate instructor in Missoula, Montana. After Serving with the Military Police in Kuwait and Iraq during the first Gulf War, he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to continue his training. Mark was promoted to 1st Degree Black Belt by a Board of Examiners for the International Kenpo Karate Association. While in New Orleans, Mr. Brosten continued teaching, working with a diverse group of students from artists and architects to law enforcement and military personnel. Mark also developed a summer program for children, ages 4 to 5, for the Isadore Newman School in New Orleans.

An exceptional athlete, Mark is committed to training and competition. He competes in Martial Arts events throughout the United States and has placed within the top three, each time he's competed internationally. Since his return to Montana, Mark regularly teaches seminars at various martial art studios. Mr. Brosten successfully tested for advanced Black Belt rank in October of 2007. In 2008, Mark taught his first international seminar at The World Kenpo Karate Championships in Jersey, Channel Islands U.K. His practical experience and no nonsense approach to Kenpo have served him as a student, competitor, and teacher for nearly 25 years.

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