Posted by Damon O'Hanlon
Over last weekend, it was my pleasure to have the indomitable Nick Wilson stop by for a visit. He's an amazing 4th degree black belt, and one of the most phenomenal teachers I've ever met. Because an ounce of his opinion is worth a pound of gold, I took the opportunity to consult with him about my karate program, and something he said really got me thinking. What he said was this:
"Your program is more structured than some decade-old schools I've seen with hundreds of students." - Nick Wilson
I really took that as compliment, especially coming from him. Then I asked myself: Why? Why do I think of that as such a compliment? Why should a karate program be meticulously structured? Why not teach front kicks Monday, maybe punches Tuesday, and oh, say, backflips Wednesday? And why not promote a student to a new belt “just whenever they look ready” ?
After I thought about it, here's what I realized, and maybe it will be of some help to you. Ask yourself, does your program fire on all of these cylinders?
Emphasize your natural strengths
Most martial arts schools have belt ranks and classes divided by skill level. This lends itself to a very structured environment. I’m not saying swimming or piano lessons couldn’t be similarly structured, but in karate the structure is obvious, to the point of being physically worn around your waist! So emphasize it. Make sure each belt rank is meaningful. Failure should be an option. Make sure different classes have different curriculums, and different responsibilities, with different expectations.
It will all contribute to your students having a stronger sense of mastery, and also...