Thursday, May 8, 2008

Picky, Picky: My Approach to Teaching Novice Students

When I get new students, I pay very close attention to their form and technique for the first few months. I constantly make corrections to the point where it can be frustrating for them. There are a few ways in which I try to minimize this frustration, however.

Strategic Corrections. I don't correct every single mistake they make or offer as many suggestions for improvement as I can think of. This would be overwhelming, making the learning process appear insurmountable to the novice. Instead, I focus on the most important form points first. When teaching boxing punches, for example, I focus on punching with a straight wrist in order to prevent wrist injury, keeping hands up in guard, etc. Then, once they've mastered the initial points, I focus on new form points like proper footwork, use of hip to increase power, breathing, etc. Then after students have been training with me awhile and have mastered all the basic form points, I'll focus on higher level form points like how twist into punches to further increase power, etc. By taking things one step at a time, students learn more effectively and therefore get less frustrated.

Credit Where Credit is Due. Just because I'm picky about form, does not mean that I don't offer praise when it is deserved. Proper encouragement and reinforcement is a vital part of teaching. It helps students stay motivated with a positive outlook towards their learning.

Being picky with my novices' form always pays off in the long run. When they have a strong foundation of basics, everything else they learn later on is easier and takes less time for them to learn.

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