Teaching and learning taekwondo

Yesterday’s training session was totally magic – lots of anaerobic, followed by breathing and stretches and it all seemed to fit together naturally – it was the kind of session where you think – I’m going to pass out in the first ten minutes but by the end you feel a different person. Having now been back at midweek as well as weekend training for three weeks, it feels like its time to go up a gear again, time to try and battle stamina and endurance. Hoping to do a fight at end of Jan / beginning of February. Have not managed many runs, only doing one a week at moment, but still doing things like 10 flights of stairs. If I can stay in the same physical shape as am now will also pick up more training in the week too.

I arrived early and our instructor asked me to briefly work with two junior students on practising turning kicks. Working with them doing poomsae seems less daunting, I feel more confident at least showing some of the moves from the earlier ones; but kicking? Ok I was a primary teacher (although years out of qualified status now), but I have enough trouble with turning kicks myself, how can I possibly help anyone else? Also, I don’t want to suggest something that could physically injure someone – that’s scary !

No option, he handed me a kickpad and we had to get on with it, they were great – we did some short series of practising with both legs, similar to some of the drills we do in our class, at one point I noticed their hands were slipping by their sides (something I do frequently – a bad habit I’m currently trying to refocus) so asked them to try and keep their fists up – seeing as it was first session with them, I didn’t feel aware enough to have noticed how much it affected their balance – but if I did it again, I would probably try and pay attention to this.

If I ever get to a point where I would like to do more formal martial arts instruction…if I kept training regularly as now I would be thinking 10 years away at least, regardless of any belts that I may do – just for the overall experience. Most of our senior members have been training a long time. I guess from today’s session, it doesn’t mean that I can’t try and help someone else in the meantime, who knows – maybe there are very little things I can try and do to help others improve – that should be how all learning is (definitely understood more about that one from connectivism over last few months).

I read Shang Lee’s post on being a learning to be a better student through teaching, superb advice:

“When a teacher is correcting someone, don’t assume that you know the correction already and that the teaching doesn’t apply to you. There are so many things to learn, especially from the basic moves. You will be really ignorant if you think you are superior to another student.

When a teacher is showing a move, observe observe observe. Look everywhere. Look at a specific action. Look at the whole action sequence. Look at the eyes. Look at the neck. Look at the legs. Look at the posture. Look at the quality. Don’t just stand there and admire. Look intently.

If you do get corrected in a group class, do not resist the correction. Ignore the eyes of the other students and listen closely to what the teacher is saying. Correct as much as you can. Make a mental note of the others that you can’t correct there, and use that as your reference every time you practise. You don’t need to stand corrected there and then. There is a time and place for everything. The classroom may not be the place.

As you leave the class, do remember to prepare for the next class as well. Practise practise practise”

When you do see the instructor or a senior member of the class demonstrating a move, it is easy to just admire – the speed, balance, control of movements etc However it is so true, if I just look and think how good it is, I forget to actually look at how they did those movements and relate it back to how I do them. I was very fortunate last week to have one member of the class who took some time to explain exactly what bits of kicks I was doing right and wrong and how to try and correct any bad habits that I have been slipping into.

By bad habit – it is not an awful one, no-one can be perfect, its just natural after training for over a year that somehow you can’t physiologically and psychologically process perfect movement so you do fall into ways of moving which are not the best – especially in terms of balance, strength, position. Its so helpful to have someone else observe and offer suggestions for improving – these are things you can take away and practise in your own time.

On a related note, I am still making – albeit less and smaller – mess with taekgeuk yuk jang, I would have been very invisibly beaten up by any invisible opponents by now – I have been practising, but more required. Today’s session was very valuable again in understanding how much breathing affects each movement – so over next few days will focus on breathing in a poomsae rather than trying to endlessly think forward about which way to turn and which fist to use after which kick. Natural flow and less force !

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