Grooming

No, no..I’m not talking about hygiene.  I’m talking about how I get the distinct feeling I’m getting groomed to be an instructor when I get my black belt.  Not only does Grandmaster introduce me as “our next WTF Poomsae World Champion” at times (which, while a HUGE compliment, seems quite premature), but he is encouraging me to help teach the lower belts (particularly yellow) their poomsae.  I’ve done it once so far and it is definately an interesting experience.  There is a huge difference of feeling between learning and teaching.  I’ve also lead the sit-ups and push-ups that usually end a class.  That I feel more comfortable with, but it’s still a feeling that will take some getting used to.

It’s funny, but I often refer to Grandmaster as Dumbledore because he seems to know everything that is going on in the dojang and he directs things to happen in very subtle ways.  I get the feeling that he knows that in my mind I tell myself that I don’t know enough, or I’m not good enough, and by putting me in a teaching position (no matter how minor) is a way for me to learn to silence that negative self-talk.

While I like the idea of being in a position of authority (of knowledge, not power to lord over people), I don’t know if I will ever be truly comfortable with the idea of leading a class.  I’m sure though that it is much like everything else in TKD and life, it gets easier with practice and repetition.

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5 Comments

  1. I am only a yellow belt, but the few times I’ve helped with the kids’ class, I’ve felt inferior too. My first experience w/helping was with a little boy who has SEVERE ADHD. (My 10 yo son has it but this boy’s was much, much more distracting to him and to the rest of the class.) I asked one of our senseis if I could go out and kind of shadow him and kind of use the “buddy system” with him. It did help him. But on the flip side, one time, Sensei told me that the less you touch them (righting their incorrect moves), the better off they are. He said they almost always catch on by watching and the touch just distracts them. The other day, teaching staff was a bit shorthanded and one of the teachers paid me the highest compliment – after the class he told me he almost came out and got me to help him with the class. I wish I had thought enough of myself to offer to help in the first place. Whatever the case, I am going to conciously start asking if they’d like my help instead of waiting for them to ask me. Good post!

  2. Funny, but that last line of yours was part of something Grandmaster was talking about last night. He said always help others first, because eventually they will ask you what they can help with.

    He had me helping again last night. It’s weird, because I don’t have assistant leadership yet (I’m on the verge) and that is typically required to be in any sort of….well, leadership position. I think one of my main areas of being uncomfortable is that I’m concerned that I might start looking like teacher’s pet, and I don’t want others who have been there longer to have any bad feelings.

  3. Nice blog.

    Becoming comfortable teaching takes time. I think I was a Nidan before I felt at ease teaching. I believe instructors can tell which students will be good teachers. Good luck!

  4. I started teaching when I was a lower rank than a third of my students. Even now, I have three 2nd degree black belts in my teen class and five first degrees–a couple of whom got their black belt the same day I did. What you have to remember is that rank doesn’t equal teaching ability just as expertise in subject matter doesn’t equal teaching ability. Teachers are people who can help others understand.

    If your instructor asks you to help teach, it’s because they know you have the ability to do so. Trust me when I say we STRONGLY DISCOURAGE students who either don’t know their material well enough or can’t communicate well with others from any sort of activity that remotely resembles teaching, partly for fear of liability in cases of extreme stupidity (like the time I stopped a new black belt from teaching an 11-year-old brown belt how to do choke holds) but also because there’s a lot of trust put in your martial arts instructors. I can’t speak for anyone else, but that trust is important to me and I make damn sure my students are always safe. I wouldn’t put them under the instruction of anyone I thought didn’t deseve that kind of trust.

    Let your confidence in front of the class come from the knowledge that you can help and your instructor’s awareness that you can be trusted to do so. That’s what gets me through when I feel like a fraud, when I can’t remember all my material, when I think I suck because I don’t train hard enough, when I know I couldn’t get through half the pushups I’ve inflicted. I’m still a good teacher, regardless of anything else, and my students still trust me to keep them safe.

  5. […] and more situations where I am helping teach or train newer students.  I always suspected he was grooming me to be an instructor, but now I know for sure.  I have been officially invited to join their […]


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