This is an article generated by a meeting of the Seattle Teachers, comments by the Southern California Teachers follows.


A Teachers Gripe Session

By Sifu Andrew Dale

Xin Qi Shen Dojo Newsletter Winter 2001


Over the last year some of us teacher types have gotten together and shared some things during gripe sessions (not the monthly teachers sessions). Things we wish for, things we try to improve, misunderstandings, and things we suffer through. I thought I�d spill some beans to help perhaps motivate some students to become mindful or considerate.


As an instructor it would be great to only have to focus on teaching, training and correcting. But . . . . a class or club situation is a very complex mixture of people, moods, and personalities, not to mention physical abilities. Though not all of us are full-time instructors it�s important to know the reason a person does teach is because they love the art and to teach. Contrary to popular belief, it�s not for the wealth, fame and notoriety that you�d expect!


Some of the common statements we get when someone hears we teach full time:

        You�re kidding, right?

        You can make a living doing that?

        Wow, how easy.

        Oh, that�s not a real job.

        Oh, so you play instead of work.

        That�s not really work.

        You�ve got it easy.

        Boy, you don�t have any responsibility.


        When class is over, have it over. Not being followed to the car or door with more questions.

        Before class starts have students practicing, not chatting or waiting for the class to start.

        Not to be besieged with questions while preparing for the next class.

        Have students try to figure things out before asking questions.

        Not have someone want deals, $$, on lessons.

        Have students realize they may not be the only ones in class.

        Students would listen and practice, not share what their other teachers do or did. Or to comment on the instruction during class.

        Never hear, "You changed it," or "That�s not the way so and so did it."

        Students would understand the meaning of a dedicated practice space. The care and nurturing of the energy and atmosphere of the place.


        Mellow out a students who think they�re martial arts heroes.

        Tone down an overzealous student.

        Deal with students who have an odor.

        Deal with a student who interrupts another�s lesson or question without loosing the pace of the class or lesson.

        Keep the class on track when two students are intent upon their own conversations.

        Get a student to work within their abilities.

        Get a student to work up to their potential.

        When asking for questions, not having a student make a speech or rephrase what was said.

Some of the items above may seem simple but, one of the difficulties is handing the situations while a class is in session, keeping the class going without wasting time, sidetracking the practice or loosing track of the lesson.



        Did you know that perhaps the last thing an instructor wants to discuss when off duty is martial arts?

        Did you know that instructors get calls at home regarding class & forms? (Even in class when there is a schedule posted!)

        Did you know some people believe Qi gong classes should be free since they teach healing? Or think you�re slime if you make your living teaching full time!  (Do they go to the free medical clinic?)

Now you don�t want to get paranoid about your manners and attitude in class, just be thoughtful. That�s actually part of the martial arts: AWARENESS.




Several teachers have observed this: Why does it seem like the most eager and enthusiastic student is the first one to drop out of class? 


I received an email that was sent to me by a tai chi student from outside the area and in another school and discussed it with several of our NWTCCA teachers. It seems the writer was complaining that he did not get the true teachings early on in their training and he blamed his teachers. While that may have been true, (See Kurland's article on teachers and teaching styles)  I wondered if he, like most students, was not ready to see what they can see now?"  The information may have been there in front of him already and being taught, but he was blind to it. This is concept called "readiness" to learn.  Often a symptom of that is that a student after relearning a move several times says, "You changed it."  Most likely they never really saw it the first time.  When the student is ready the move reveals itself.


Sometimes I correct a student 20 times on the same technique and they still don't get it. It is as if they are ignoring my corrections?  What can I do?  Do they as the fellow mentioned earlier, five years later, claim they were never taught that correctly?


Most students in the beginning have a lot of problems with gross movements so the specific nit picking stuff has no relevance to real world teaching.


I found something that Andrew Dale wrote that goes into this.

Dale wrote, "Sometimes beginners are taught a certain way while advanced members are taught differently. Sometimes one person is taught one way (to their talents and nature) while another member is taught completely differently."


Andy Dale wrote, "In general, beginners are given basic, easy to grasp ideas. As student advance they receive more depth of instruction, that is, when they are able or ready to deal with it. I.e. if a person is having trouble with right and left foot there isn�t any need to discuss 'energies' or intent."

I agree totally with that.  I see that every day in teaching beginners, most just struggle with which is their left hand.


Another issue is that I find in my teaching is that some students jump around from class to class and never learn much. They are always relearning and never get the basics down. Or they go on vacations and miss a month or even 6 months then expect to keep up with their group. They go from being a beginner in one class to being beginner in another different style class, and wonder why they are not making progress.  Some disappear for years then expect to come back and relearn everything in a few sessions, or "Stop the presses his highness is back."


 Until they stay long enough to let the stuff sink in, and give up their past error ridden moves, (and not try to rationalize that is how we did it in the other class) and take corrections to heart, they do not progress.... I think that explains the frustration of some of the students and teachers.


Do you have any solutions for these problems?