DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO
 
Don't follow to closely
I have seen it many times.
 
I bet you have too.
 
A class full of students, all working hard, all trying their best. Most of them just want to get better at what ever it is that they are learning to do at that particular moment in time. Some, however, whether they know it or not, may actually have a somewhat loftier goal. Hidden away deep in the back of their mind is one over riding thought, they want to be, "just like sensei".
 
Now don't misunderstand me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of us emulating those we admire, or for that matter wanting to be more like them.
 
The trick is not to try and be, "just like them".
 
After all, it is our individuality that makes each of us who we are.
 
What I mean to say, is that as instructors it is our job is to turn out students with good basic skills in all aspects of our chosen style of karate, or any other martial art for that matter.
 
But not clones.
 
Having our students copying our good habits is one thing, but having them also copy our bad habits as well is something that we definitely need to avoid at all costs.
 
So where do we draw the line.
 
When and where do we say to the student, " do as I say, not as I do".
 
It should begin when we first recognize that a desire to be "just like us" exists in some students. After all the real goal of any good instructor should be to develop the uniqueness that lies within each individual and to bring out the best in them, but as themselves. Not to try and make them into what ever we as instructor have ourselves become.
 
This is why it is very important that we make every effort to control those nasty little habits that we all have, and that we really need all of our students to avoid, or at least postpone, until they are much further along in rank.
 
For example.
 
Many experienced instructors, in order to help themselves relax between techniques, will often make a habit of opening and closing their hands between movements, even when going from one closed handed series of techniques to another.
 
While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this, provided the instructor is of a significantly high enough rank, and they understand when and why they are doing this tyoe of action, it may not be appropriate for them to do all of the time. Especially when teaching a class. Otherwise they may suddenly look around one day and find that kyu belts of all ranks are starting to do the same thing, and for no other reason than the fact that they have seen their sensei doing it on a regular basis.
 
Doing something as instructor because you meant to do it is one thing. Allowing the students to copy your "every movement" just because they admire you is quite another matter altogether.
 
One way to avoid this is to learn early on to recognize the natural flow that exists within each student. What works well for them, and what does not. You must then nurture what works for each student through good training, while at the same time also modifying what does not work for each student, but also through good training. Beginners and middle level kyu belts, and for that matter students up to the rank of Ni Dan should always be encouraged to adhere strictly to proper technique, without any short cuts, and without putting in any additional movements, especially in kata.
 
Once you have had your input into how the student should be doing things, you should then leave the student to practice on their own, to make mistakes, to notice them, and to correct them on their own. Naturally you must continue to monitor their progress and to make comments, and adjustments when needed, but constantly hovering over a student and commenting on every move they make, or saying to a student "do it like I do" is the wrong approach, and teaches them nothing.
 
If they are going to truly learn and progress in their karate they must often do so on their own, and learn to separate what should be, from what should never be. At the rank of San Dan, however, freedom of action between movements should not only be tolerated it, should actually be encouraged, as this will open up a whole new aspect to their training and personal growth within the art of karate.
 
So by all means pass on all your knowledge, and all your skills, keep nothing back, keep nothing hidden, but be sure and pass these things on only at the appropriate time, but only in a manner that allows the students to better themselves, not just so they can become a copy of you, or anyone else for that matter.
 
Clearly in karate-do and in life all knowledge is meant to be shared, what, when, and how is the question.
 
Remember:
The object of any karate lesson must always be,
to develop the character of the individual,
not to try and re-create the teacher.
 
Part the clouds - see the way.
 
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay