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The Basics of Teaching Methodology in Martial Arts

The Basics of Teaching Methodology in Martial Arts

The phenomenon of expansion of various martial arts and sports across the world is of such intensity which is hard to explain even to psychologists, sociologists, different sports journalists and other professionals. Because of this vast expansion, the process of teaching and educating persons by means of exercise or training includes a number of different experts. Unfortunately, among many high - quality experts, martial arts masters or martial arts trainers, there are those who do not correspond to such a profile, i.e. those who do not know or respect the basic principles of the teaching methodology in martial arts.

The basics of teaching methods

In order to subjugate the process of exercize to our health, it needs to be programmed, in other words, scientifically grounded. If we leave exercize to chance and if it was the opposite (not programmed and not professionally guided), this process could potentially be equally harmful as much as beneficial. Sadly, the fact is that, objectively speaking, every programmed activity does not have to be favourable for our health. This can often be noticed in sports training of different martial arts when the goal is not to improve health, but only to have a more successful sports result.

The first important condition of a proper way of training lies in the precise definition of the goal or the purpose of training in a way that it is attainable for the individual. So, every person needs to be submitted to a clearly set initial testing in order to define his or her physical abilities. Such testing is necessary so a programmed and led training process could follow because this is how we can see in what way does the individual deviate from a general criteria or norm. If we do not have this information, training itself becomes aimless and, to some extent, dangerous.

Once we have established the starting point of the individual and calculated and measured the amount of his or her deviation from favourable criteria or norm (which are inevitable in order to be successful in a certain martial art or sport), we can proceed to programme the training process. First, we need to clearly set its goals and purpose so we can define the amount of work, i.e. the number of trainings per week. Also, we need to determine the number of trainings per day - does the person need one or two training sessions, as well as the duration of each.

We must precisely calculate the intensity of training for each individual. This relates to the exertion which will cause the best transformative processes, i.e. the changes in the body of the individual who is training and advancing to a preset goal. Determining the intensity should be a daily routine for the instructor. Exercize itself does not suffice if we do not know how much and how to approach it. Many people train for months, even years and still do not see changes they have hoped for as well as any major results.This is because they are not aware or informed of the intensity of the training they should be using.

Every instructor - expert should strive to find an optimal load for each individual who comes in to training or wants to exercize. The principle of gradualism will definitely be of help. It commands that every person, according to his or her current abilities, gradually increases the level of training intensity as well as the number of trainings. That way the intensity will always be equally distributed and the instructor will be able to follow the information regarding the effect of the work more easily. He or she will also know how to make corrections to the exercize in accordance with the current form and needs of every individual, all in order to attain the set goal. It is important to stress that the normal biological systems can't stand a continuously large volume of workload. Proper exercize which affects the motor and functional abilities lies on the physiological basics of interplay between the load and the recovery.

The term exercize or training covers the planned and programmed physical activity and the preparation of the individual. It is divided into physical, technical - tactical, theoretical and psychological (moral, volitional control movement,etc.) preparation. Principally, the physical preparation of an individual entails the process of development of his psychomotor and functional abilities. It is further divided into general physical ability which task is to develop a general individual's form and special physical ability which is directed towards the development of skills specific for a certain martial art or sport. No matter the type of physical form, it will be treated according to the development of an individual's psychomotor skills: the development of strength, speed, precision, agility, flexibility and balance.

Speed is the ability to perform one movement in as a short amount of time as possible, i.e. performing a larger frequency of the same or different movements in a certain time span. Speed is a psychomotor skill whose coefficient of innateness resolves around 90%. For that reason, there is a general opinion that we can make little or no difference to the improvement of this skill. We can affect the development of speed in a younger person, i.e. in a child up to 10 years of age. Later on, we can improve it only if we continuously work on the perfection of the technique and bring it close to automated perfection. This surely helps to build up strength. Among all different types of strength, martial arts and sports benefit most out of repetitive and explosive types of strength.

Precision is an ability that is very important in martial arts and asks that we analize information, localize the target, its distance, movement and time to reach it all in a matter of a hundredth of a second.

The development of balance depends on the function of the vestibular system so it is very difficult to influence its improvement. In practice, this ability manifests itself in the ability to lose balance or the skill to bring it back as soon as possible.

The improvement of agility can be divided into several existing types, for example, hand coordination, leg coordination, coordination of the torso, rhythmic coordination, the speed in which complex motor tasks are completed, the speed of learning new movements, reorganization of stereotypes and mobility. Many martial arts as well as sports set high expectations for this skill so, in the course of the training, working on the development of general and special coordination is addressed.

We think of the development of flexibility as an ability to perform a movement with a large amplitude. The bigger the flexibility, the larger the amplitude of a certain movement. This skill is one of the essentials for martial arts training. Developing flexibility isn't a big problem to take on, especially if it is addressed from a young age.

For a high level of martial arts mastery as well as individual's sports achievements we primarily need to follow up on his or her physical predisposition and character traits. Many young people train in sports centers and, after some time when they see that they cannot master an advanced technique in a short period of time, decide to give up training. It is necessary that a person trains for about three years so he or she can acquire the first level of mastery or start to achieve a certain sports result. Every person, especially if he or she is young, martial arts or sports instructors need to stress that his or her patience is paramount if they wish to achieve a certain goal.

Technical - tactical preparation includes, as its name suggests, training of technical as well as tactical activities of a certain skill or sport. It also addresses other various modes of exercize that influence its development. This mode of preparation is one of the most important ones, in both training of a certain martial arts technique as well as in accomplishing a good sports result. Alongside with technical - tactical preparation, psychological preparation is also pivotal.

Training psychological endurance relates to the indirect and long - term general and specific way of training and exercizing. It affects motivation, character build - up and adaptation to stressful situations, all thanks to planned activities. Theoretical preparation is also a part of the wholesome sportsperson's training although it does not take up such an important place as other modes of preparation. Theoretical preparation is more important for instructors so they can plan the training programme of each and every trainee or sportsperson more easily.

Each training or exercize, no matter its tasks or uniqueness, has a couple of parts that follow each other in order to meet the principles of gradualism of physical, intellectual and emotional workload as well as the principles of change of their volume and intensity. Those are the introductory, preparational, main and final parts.

The introductory part of the training starts after forming a line up, greeting and informing about the basic tasks that need to be accomplished by the end of the training. It lasts for 5 - 10 minutes, the trainees start to walk lightly after which various modes of running, jumping and games follow. It ends with sprinting in short sections. The preparational part needs to set up the trainee's metabolism for the workload and activities which will follow in the main part of the training. This part of the training can last for a different amount of time, depending on the intensity of the main part of the training, its longevity and its basic characteristic. For example, in a training that lasts for 90 minutes, it usually lasts 20 – 30 minutes, whereas in a training that lasts for two hours, it can take up to 30 minutes.

The main part of the training serves to accomplish the main tasks of the training. It is usually divided in two parts so that two different goals can be acquired. Another reason is to change the training's dynamics and make it less monotone. The main part lasts according to the complete duration of the training, i.e. if a training lasts for 90 minutes, it can last up to 50 – 60 minutes. However, if the full training lasts for 120 minutes, it can take up to 70 – 80 minutes. It is especially necessary to divide it into two different parts if the training lasts for about two hours.

The final part of the training lasts for around 10 minutes and its focal task is to calm the body down (bring back the functions of certain physiological systems into normal), relax, analyze the training session and discuss it.

The problem of training organization is connected to the tasks that should be attained in its duration as well as the diversity of the categories of trainees (age, sex, knowledge, i.e. belt). In practice, there are four different options on how to organize a training: frontally, in a group, individually or in a combined mode.

The frontal mode puts all the trainees in the same position, they do the same exercize and the same tasks. It is usually used in training with the same age, sex or knowledge level group. A lot of instructors use it because it is the only mode they know of and know how to apply, no matter the fact that sometimes they have a mixture of children, adults, women, advanced trainees, i.e. masters and beginners in the same group. Of course, the frontal mode cannot bring very good results with such a versatile group. It can make sense only if the trainer leads a homogeneous group of trainees or sportspersons.

The group mode gives the trainer a chance to divide individuals into two or more groups in order to accommodate to different categories of trainees. The scarcity of the number of exercize machines or the lack of trainers - assistents (the trainer of a certain group), attaining two or more goals (for example, one group is practicing katas, the second is working on its technique, the third is doing sparring training) are also some of the plausible reasons. The group mode is especially advisable in situations where the trainer needs to work with several different categories of trainees or when he is simultaneously acquiring a number of different basic tasks. However, it also has its negative side (apart from, generally, being worse than the individual mode) - one group's exercizes and movements can distract the other group which leads to a drop of concentration.

The individual mode is the most efficient mode of training. Here each individual spends his or her time working on his own training programme, independently from other trainees. The trainer has more control, adapts the programme and motivates. Because of the growing need for individual programmes (for more trainees at once), this type of mode is the most difficult to organize. It is especially applicable in training of top sportsmen or advanced trainees. In practice, the individual mode is usually combined with group or frontal modes in which the instructor devotes 5 - 10 minutes to the individual, depending on the number of trainees per session.

Lastly, the combined method incorporates a combination of group, frontal and individual modes and, because of this, it is very beneficial and favourable in practice.

The role and personality of the instructor

In the long - term process of sports specialization or direction towards a master vocation, different factors will affect the trainee. Among them, the most important and most basic one is his instructor or coach. The effect of the trainer on a trainee can be so big that, in certain moments, he or she becomes his replica. This is why the instructor's personality cannot be taken for granted, especially if he or she is educating trainees on how to use certain "deadly” martial arts skills or techniques.

The basic principle of a successful instructor is that he knows a certain martial arts skill or sport in its entirety. Also, it is advisable that the trainer is always present during the training, that he or she is physically prepared, that he or she has a certain level of education and that he or she is constantly improving his skills and knowledge. For example, a good instructor should posses knowledge in didactics, training methodology, anatomy, physiology, psychology, sports medicine, biomechanics, kinesiology, statistics, pharmacy etc. Every good instructor, primarily, needs to set a good example for desirable behaviour as well as a valid lifestyle to a person he or she is educating.

In order to turn a master into a good instructor, he or she needs to have certain qualities, for example, a high level of intelligence, a high capability to persuade and motivate, he needs to show leadership, advocate the well - being of his or her students, trainees or sportspersons, realistically assess his value and the value of his students, aim towards perfection and prove that he or she is an expert in the field to other instructors. Having these bases, a good instructor will be able to build up the success of his pupils or to achieve a sports result, as well as the general result of his or her club, his or her school, i.e. martial arts centre.

A good instructor can be recognized with the help of the fact that he or she prepares for a training session, meaning that a detailed plan and programme is being prepared in advance. Such an instructor will probably take certain notes which he or she will use in order to remind him/herself on specific techniques that were planned to be shown in training.

A good instructor will keep track of the specific amount of time needed for each phase of the training session. Also, he or she will not avert from the preplanned training schedule and will, thus, attain a certain goal. In other words, he or she will not leave the session to chance, he or she will already have a training plan prepared and it will successfully lead him or her towards the goal of the training.

It is necessary that an instructor follows and checks the trainee's pulse, i.e. his or her cardiac frequency and, by using these means, keeps track of the optimal training intensity. So, for example, if there is a trainee who is 20 years old, his borderline cardiac frequency should be calculated by subtracting his age from the maximum cardiac frequency of 220 heartbeats per minute (220 – 20 = 200). If we subtract 25 from this result, we reach an optimal training intensity for this person which is 175 beats per minute. The heart rate monitor is advisable, but not necessary. The pulse (heartbeats) can easily be measured by putting pressure with a finger (palpation) to the neck artery or on the trainee's wrist. It is usually measure in a half - minute interval and the number is multiplied by two in order to calculate the number of heartbeats per minute.

A good instructor can be recognized due to the fact that he will never boast with his achievements, but also won't belittle other instructors, other martial arts or sports. Such an instructor will impose him/herself with his or her knowledge, his or her skill and if he or she thinks that things cannot be achieved without a fight or discussion, he or she will give up and find a better post.

A good instructor will never prohibit his students (trainees or sportspersons) to leave him for another instructor, if they so wish, no matter how much time, effort, money or knowledge he or she has invested in their development and education. He or she will always respect their desire to leave or their decision to seek for further advancements someplace else.

A good instructor will not be interested in the color of your skin (race), sex, age, your religion, financial status, but your will and motivation to learn and master certain martial arts or sports.

You can recognize him or her by the fact that he or she is very kind when talking and interacting with other people. Don't be fooled and think that this shows weakness, on the contrary. A good instructor knows how to control his or her emotions and temper and will not let his ego, vanity or uncontrollable aggressiveness overcome him.

No matter the working conditions or a currently weaker financial situation in martial art or sport he or she teaches, a good instructor will always be successful. No matter which martial art are we talking about, if you have such a person behind you, chances are you will also follow his or her steps.

A good sensei (sifu, guru) or instructor will raise his students and trainees to become good people and champions in his or her centers. Bad or fake senseis, i.e. instructors won't - they are simply not able to do so.

A good instructor will always say that he or she still has a lot to learn, to perfect and to do. Bad or fake instructors will say that they know everything there is. Unfortunately, students of such a person will, eventually, become bad themselves.

Because of that, choosing a good instructor, i.e. choosing a good dojo or martial arts center is paramount in raising future generations of trainees and sportspersons. As much as it is hard for a beginner or a young person, i.e. child to find a good instructor for a certain martial art or sport, it is difficult to find a good student or trainee who has big potential.

When such a situation happens, their progress has almost no limits. Then and there is where top masters and sportspersons develop.

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