Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I have been writing already about the need to discern why are you learning/studying martial arts. But that question does not apply just to the students...If you are teaching martial arts, you have to ask yourself - "Why am I doing this"? What is at all about for you?

See, the thing is, unlike the motives to learn, not every motive to teach is legitimate. And I don't mind people making money from it. No, that is perfectly OK with me, as long as the teacher/instructor is honest about his offer and treats his clientele with due respect. Also, the fact that one may not be charging at all for their instruction does not make them worthy of the teacher title.

My guess is I am not alone in being sick of the types who are looking for some self-aggrandizing experience from teaching, harassing and humiliating their students in the process, all under the excuse of "instilling discipline" or something along those lines. Of course, discipline in itself is not a bad thing, but as long as it is conducive to the better learning and more efficient training process. If, on the other hand, it is a pretense for setting up some sort of unnecessary hierarchy with the sole purpose of blowing the instructor's ego out of proportion and nipping any healthy critical approach and inquisitiveness among the students in the bud... Well, sorry for putting it out bluntly, but then your an asshole and have no business teaching people.

Really? Or is there something more to it...

So what then is the central tenet that "makes it or breaks it" in my opinion? Well, like the title of the post says, it is all about sincerity! And by that I mean the approach to imparting the knowledge on your students.I have been blessed in my martial arts "career" to cross paths and learn from several great teachers, and they all had one thing in common - sincerely doing everything they could to make the student understand and truly learn what they were trying to teach.

Naturally, not all of them have the same teaching methodologies (if they have one in the first place) or philosophy of what they are doing, but they for each and every one of them student comes first! I have seen time and time again Alex Kostic of Homo Ludens Systema inspire awe in people by the way he moves, by the things he says and their eyes going bright for the new insight and another piece of the puzzle finally  falling into place. I have been astonished by Astig Lameco founder, guro Roger Agbulos' ability to captivate the students by the sheer joy of teaching and lighting the fire of desire to train hard and smart, to look for what works and put it all to test. I have been flabbergasted by Mikhail Grudev's managing to overcome the impending linguistic barriers and go out of his way to help the students get the point and have fun while working hard. I have had the privilege of undergoing some intensive training under Jogo do Pau's Luis Preto and admire his keen eye and uncanny capacity to immediately adapt the drill or the exercise to elicit the desired response in the student and make difficult things easier to comprehend.

Quite true
Another high point was seeing master Jon Escudero of LSAI putting his students in the spotlight when demonstrating his system, thus at the same time portraying the effectiveness of the style and his own effectiveness as a teacher. And then there is Steve Maxwell's leading by example and teaching you how to teach yourself; and Daniel Lamac of Koredas eskrima giving it all out without reserve; and Dave Gould of Lameco; Kevin Secours of Combat Systema; Bruno Cancho; Dima Hakimov, and...so on. 

Yes, a good curriculum is helpful, excellent methodology is most welcome. And yet, if you are not teaching for the sake of your students, with no heart in it, but with another agenda that actually has nothing to do with actual teaching...well, do yourself and the world a favor and just leave it.