Your Coach, Your Sensei

The Role of a Coach or Sensei

There are so many things that go into being a great sensei, a great coach.  You have to understand:

  • What you are teaching
  • How your students learn
  • How to use their learning styles as you teach
  • What need they have at the moment
  • And the role your students need you to fill
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Knowing The Material

It's obvious why your coach would need to understand the material.

If they or I don't know how to do a side kick, it would be impossible for me to teach you how to do one.  The better your coach knows the subject the better they can teach you that subject.

In addition to this, it also lets them understand better what level you should be at.  My expectations as your coach change depending on how long you have been trying, the difficulty of the techniques we are working on, and any past injuries or challenges you need to overcome.

A good Sensei doesn't just know the material for themselves but understands how far along their students should be and helps them make the smallest change with the biggest impact.

Learning And Teaching Styles

Understanding how a student learns and how to teach them is just as important.

Each student is going to learn a littl differently, mostly falling under one of the four categories. Using the side kick example from earlier it looks like this.

  • Some will need to see the kick done.
  • Some will need it described so they can think through the motions.
  • Others will need to moved through the motion so they can feel how the side kick should be done.
  • The last group will just need to do it.

Nobody will fall solely into one category but everyone will have a category that allows them to learn faster.

As a coach it my job to make the small adjustments to how I am teaching so you learn in the way that makes it easiest for you.

 

The Needs Of The Student

"When people ask me about what I learned from martial arts, I don't talk about favorite punches or kicks, or about fight won or lost. I talk about learning self-discipline, about ethics and manners and benevolence and fairness."  Jonathan Maberry

As a coach, students' needs are important to understand for a very simple reason.

If you're hungry, if you don't feel safe, or if you feel like an outsider, than you are not learning as well as you could be.  It is up to me to make sure you checking all the possible boxes.

Safety

Your Sense should be a safety blanket first.  A good coach understands that every student in class is trusting them to keep them safe.  If what they are learning is dangerous, that trust is what allow them to improve.

Without a feeling of safety, no one has a chance of learning because they will be focused on becoming safe.

Not An Outsider

Beyond your safety, you need to feel like you are part of the group.  That the Sensei will stand behind you and lift you up.  If you feel like an outsider you will end up checking out of class, and keep your burning questions to yourself.

I cannot tell you how many light bulbs I have watched go off because of an "off topic" conversation.  Your sense of belonging is affected by the group dynamic, how safe you feel, and how well your Sensei understands the material the are teaching.

Safety

Your Sense should be a safety blanket first.  A good coach understands that every student in class is trusting them to keep them safe.  If what they are learning is dangerous, that trust is what allow them to improve.

If you don't feel like you belong, you will not feel safe to learn.

Strive To Improve

The Final mark of a great coach or Sensei is a need to continue to learn.

You coach should strive to improve themselves and their teaching.  This constant march toward improvement will ensure that they don't ever forget what it was like to be a novice and make it easy to empathize with the people that are teaching.

The role of your coach or Sensei is to be a partner in you fitness and training.

They should celebrate each success with you. They should be reference for you. Your Sensei is not the end, they do not know everything, they should be questioned, and they should not be done learning.