Instructor Guidelines

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Anyone, at any age, may be called upon to be a teacher and leader. Leadership and instruction are not a function of age or of rank, they are a function of character and of specific knowledge. Although our school may use titles such as teacher or instructor at certain belt ranks, one does not need to be a black belt in order to be a good instructor, and not all black belts are good instructors. From our first class as a white belt, we are given many opportunities to teach and develop leadership skills.

Instructors are developed by being given progressively more and more responsibility. As I progressed through the ranks, I was called upon to lead certain short lessons. As my skills increased, I was provided opportunities to instruct less experienced students in their belt requirements. As my abilities further increased, I was provided with a Little Tiger class, and allowed to develop my own teaching style.
Many instructors, and most students, focus their training and instruction on rank requirements. Although learning martial arts is an important goal of our school, teaching people how to make themselves into better people is the primary goal. Because of this focus, instructors may teach skills to more advanced belts than themselves, and advanced belts need to be cognizant that they may learn from anyone regardless of rank. I learned this lesson very early on from Master Gross, when he solicited my help in improving some of his skills. More recently, in conjunction with my Little Tiger class, I have been helping two young black belts (and a young striped belt) develop their leadership skills and self confidence.

Instructors are positive examples that their students can emulate and follow in order to grow and develop, both in the martial arts and in their whole life skills. Instructors must always be enthusiastic toward their students and the subject matter they are teaching. Instructors should encourage students to put forth their best effort, to challenge themselves to achieve more, and to compliment them on their progress. Through these traits, instructors will help students to achieve their potential and teach them to pass on these traits to others.

Instructors should structure their classes to ensure that the students remain engaged, so they do not become bored, and so that they are given opportunity for repeated practice of all skills and rank requirements, but also so that they are given opportunities to try and to learn new skills. A well structured class should start by showing respect to the country, the school, and the instructors. It should then move to a period of meditation to allow everyone to mentally transition from their outside activity to learning. Next should be warm-ups and stretching. The main part of the class should include repetitive practice of basic skills and time to work on advanced or new skills, including line drills, forms, team activities, and sparring. The final part of the class should mirror the beginning of class by having a period of cool-down, meditation to reflect on what was learned and to transition back to normal life, and a show of respect.