Superwife - Camo belt - D

My wife of 8 years and mother of our three kids. She started TKD after the birth of Odie, our third child.

Princess - Camo Belt - D

Our seven-year-old daughter. She was originally supposed to be a spectator to Cowboy, but jumped in and has proven to have an incredible talent for the martial arts.

Cowboy - Camo Belt - D

Our six-year-old son. He is small for his age, so starting him in TKD is what got us into this mess. He is very close to our Chief Instructor, and his spirit is twice as big as he is.


Our youngest son, born in April of 2006. By the time he is old enough to start, we should all be Black Belts.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Best Instructor Ever

Before I even begin, I realize that every student in the world is going to have a different definition of the best instructor ever. Here's mine.

Push me. Push me hard, but not to exhaust me--push me to excel. Make me do things that I didn't realize that I could do. This is the singlemost motivating thing for me in a physical environment, whether it be flying, running, or the martial arts.

I had a student one time when I was in college as an instructor at ROTC Field Training. This girl was skinny, relatively weak, and spending the hottest part of the summer doing PT on the beaches of Florida. Needless to say, she was not happy. Each evening we would have the cadets for around 30 minutes of intense physical training--the hardest part of the day. Whereas most of the other instrcutors would grab a magaphone and just yell for 30 minutes, I found it much more productive to pick one cadet and spend the whole 30 minutes with him/her. In this case, I had the cadet doing flutterkicks. After about 5 minutes, she dropped her feet and told me she couldn't do any more. I sat on the ground next to her and taught her how to "zone." In about 5 minutes, in her head, I had her on a beach in Hawaii--describing the sand, the trees, even the noises the seagulls were making. Every time she would start to come back to the present her feet would start to fall. When I got her to go back to Hawaii, she would continue doing flutterkicks. No--it was not fun for her. But after we were done, this girl that gave up after 5 minutes had been doing flutterkicks constantly for almost a half an hour. She thanked me for it weeks later.

I was in class a few weeks ago with the school owner, pissed off at the direction the school was going. We were doing kicks on the heavy bag, and the rest of the class was exhausted. We had already done about a hundred kicks by this point. As I hit the bag, as hard as I could, he shouted out "You can't break ME!"

It was the most motivated I've been since Nationals, and changed my attitude about training from that point on.

When I was training at Master Candidate Plamer's ATA in Florida last summer, we were doing round kicks across the room. We spent almost the whole class doing round kicks. I was an orange belt at the time. A 1D parked herslef next to me as we were doing the kicks and offered tips every time we went across the room. In between sets we would do side leg lifts and stretches, huge stretches that I hadn't done before or since. By the time we left my legs were like rubber. Before that class the highest I had kicked was about chest height. As we were leaving the 1D pulled me aside.

"Just so you know, that last round of kicks was about 6 inches above your head."

It seems so small now, but at the time I just floated home. It was the most motivating moment of my Songahm journey so far.

So that's what I'm looking for: an instructor to push me, motivate me, past the arbitrary point that I have in my head as a limit. Take me beyond that limit. Show me what I am capable of.

That's the best instructor ever.

Comments on "The Best Instructor Ever"


Blogger Windsornot said ... (6:33 PM) : 

I know what you are saying. Different people DO have different motivation, and thus need different motivators to help them. I know for my son, he needs someone who keeps things moving and encourages him to try to be "Mr. Kung Fu Master" (Drew confuses Kung Fu with TKD, but we won't get into that here.) For me, someone who helps motivate me is someone who can push and is willing to help challenge me BUT is understanding of my limitations too, like problems with my knees and asthma. Even one of the much better instructors (MZ in my blog) knows that if I can't do 15 pushups, I will do four times as many crunches to make up for it. (I'm really top heavy and have hypotonia in my arms, so I've never had any real arm strength.) I will work hard, but work with me, not against me, and I will deliver and then some.


Blogger Silverstar said ... (5:35 AM) : 

I agree that great instructors know how to push and motivate their students-not too hard but not too little. Its amazing what a person can do if they have someone who pushes and encourages them.


Blogger Kadiddly said ... (12:49 PM) : 

Hi, I stumbled onto your blog from Brittney's. It's really interesting to see another ATA student's take on things. I just picked up my camo belt this past weekend and am still a little nervous about having to spar.

I really like the instruction team at my studio. I work with three on a regular basis (one head instructor and two assistants), and they are really great about pushing me to be better, but also remembering that I haven't been doing this for years and years like they have and don't know everything yet. I haven't done any tournaments yet, but I would love to get a chance to sometime.

I hope you like your new studio!


Anonymous Ikigai said ... (5:55 PM) : 

Very nice explanation about what you see as a good teacher. This frank analysis will ultimately help you when you teach.

Best of luck during your break!


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