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rafanapa's picture
The difference in regular instructors versus occasional instructors

I have some regular people that I train with, and I also travel around to train with different people where possible. Over the years I've notched up quite a few big names and senior grades where I've trained with them for a few classes, or for an hour at a big weekend event. I've also taught, so I know a little bit about that side of things. I find that there is a wide range in what people teach when you only train with them a few times. 

Sometimes I walk away with a few new weapons in my arsenal and am very excited. Equally I can then train with them again and realise that all those new weapons are what they teach in every session where they are a guest. I remember one semi-regular instructor that I trained with where, after a few years, people would ask what he taught at the class and you could summarise it as somehting like "His usual mawashi drills, plus his push-up circuit, and he told the story about when he was in Denmark"

Sometimes I walk away inspired at some amazing physical feat, or exhausted from having worked incredibly hard. But again, I can go back to the same teacher and find that they are actually only teaching basics and not giving me anything new or anything of use to me personally. I unfortunately look back at a lot of those inspiring sessions now as twenty quid an hour to get to do oi-tsuki,

My question is, how do you approach instructors that you only get to train with occasionally, or who you may only get one chance to train with? What do you want to get from the classes? Do you feel it is a waste training with someone only now-and-then?

Similarly, to anyone who regularly travels to teach one-off classes (*cough* Iain *cough), how do you approach a visit? Do you want to give them a condensed 3-hour summation of everything you know in case you never see them again? Do you want to work on some specific drills that you can hopefully build on in the future? Do you try to tailor a class to complement what they do normally? Do you care about doing something eye-catching enough that they will bring you back?


Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I decided to train with my current teacher by attending his seminars, so it was immeasurably useful in that way.

Alot of the good guys out there have video and written material that serve as development for what might get left out, or forgotten in a seminar.

Really it comes down to this: you actually don't need to know very many different things, martial arts actually has little do with quantity of things.. So, a good teacher is really communicating the essence of suff to you in way that flips a light switch, and allows you to examine it in the long-term by yourself, of course it's tricky i'm susre to add in some variety to keep it interesting, change things to avoid staleness etc. Seriously though, it's not about addition of things at all, so really some of the best teachers teach a very minimal set of stuff, that goes very deep, and is expansive to pretty much everything you do -that is much more useful than large quantities of techniques, kata, what have you.

Quick2Kick's picture

Principles over technique. Great instructors teach at a principle level so that's what I look for. I don't think its a waste to train with someone once, as long as they give you the why and not just the how. 

shoshinkanuk's picture

Some good points- a good thing is to prepare questions that are relevant, and when answered ask for it to be demonstrated in some form of context.

Of course only ask the questions if the group is invited to do so, this does take a bit of guts granted as most people will not ask anything. (of course they may have been given more than enough to go on).

Personally when I train with anyone apart from my Sensei and his group I go and enjoy myself and the training as opposed to try and learn- of course I have much to learn but different instructors and systems go at it very differently for me, and im very focused on what we do. If something sticks then I retain it, if it doesn't then I don't.