Posts Tagged ‘Personal Coach’
‘Yes, but it’s easy for you’ are words I hear frequently when coaching, typically when asking students to challenge themselves with something they cannot yet do. Yes I’m a Kata World champion, European champion, British champion and multiple sports award winner but what you don’t know is what I have had to do to get where I am.
Typically, I don’t reply with anything other than ‘it’s not about me, it’s about you. Keep working on it’. However, next time you think about giving up, or making excuses because you believe that someone else finds it ‘easy’ and you don’t, I want you to think for a moment about this; just because someone makes something look effortless, doesn’t mean it took no effort to attain the skill. ‘It’s easy for you’ is an assumptive, blasé comment which is often said without thinking, to excuse the fact that someone feels embarrassed that they can’t currently do something the way they would like to or because they can’t be bothered to put the required work into developing the skill.
Just think for a second, if you could do something to perfection already why would I be asking you, as a coach, to work on it? Why would I be asking for you to practise and giving you help and advice on how to improve if not because I believe that you can be better, that you want to be better? It is my way of making things ‘easy’ for you. As martial artists we need the things that we practise to come easily to us, if we feel uncoordinated, clumsy and slow in the way we move we will never be able to defend ourselves effectively. It should be our goal to work hard enough to make things appear effortless. As a coach, I do not want to spend my time being impressed by what you can do, I want to be impressed by the effort and attitude you put into what you can’t do.
I’m not perfect, no one is, but don’t ever believe for one moment that just because I can do something and do it well that it’s easy for me. Everything I have achieved I have done because I have worked continuously hard over an extremely long period of time. Every one of us is different; there are things which I have picked up quickly which someone else will struggle with and vice versa. I seek out the best instructors and I take the time to listen to what they have to say, and often what they say is critical. I write copious notes on everything which I often refer to and I put in hours and hours of practise, sometimes repeating individual moves hundreds of times over until I succeed in doing something so that it feels right. I ask questions, I research what I’m doing. It’s important to understand not only how to do something correctly but why it is the correct way. None of this is easy.
Learning is a constantly evolving process. Complacency is dangerous, if you allow yourself to believe that you have mastered something you become complacent and cease to practise with the correct mindset. In this case you are now just going through the motions like a machine; not thinking, not feeling and not intuitively improving. All training should be done with an open mind, ready to change, adapt and improve. As we grow older physical limitations make it necessary for us to adapt. We lose flexibility, speed and strength but at the same time we should be learning how to adapt our movements so we don’t lose the skills we have worked hard to master. People often become frustrated when they find they can no longer train and move the way they did in their youth. It no longer feels ‘right’ which is why we need to be open-minded when we train. What was right when I was 20 is no longer right for me now I’m in my 40’s. I have had to continue to adapt and continue to work hard.
For those who continue to train, to work and to develop their skills, there can always be improvement. These people find that their movements become softer, more fluid, smaller, wiser and simultaneously more effective. At this point many of us look back and wish we had known when we started that things could be gentle on the body and yet effective. This is when, to the novice, things look effortless and ‘easy’ for those who have developed these skills.
Whenever you become frustrated that someone else appears to find something easy when you find it difficult consider that they were once where you are now. Looking at someone else wishing they had those skills, wondering why it seemed so easy for someone else. They are possibly still looking at someone else wishing their skills were at that level rather than the level that they are but, in their case, knowing that this will come with time and work and understanding that this hasn’t come easy – it has come through continuous effort and hard work.
Where I am hasn’t come easy for me, it has come as a result of many years of hard work. I have trained in martial arts for over twenty three years. I train, on average, for twenty hours per week with a mixture of personal training, private lessons, coaching and fitness work. I do more when I can. Just one year after I started training in martial arts I was diagnosed with M.E (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). As a result this has been anything but easy for me but I have never given up. You never know what anyone has struggled with or is currently struggling with and how hard they have worked to attain their goals and reach their current standard but I do know that with my own achievements I have felt an enormous sense of pride, this is not something you feel when something comes easy to you.
With this in mind, next time that you are faced with a challenge and someone else is making it look easy, ask yourself how much you want to achieve, how hard you are willing to work and how important it is to you to get there. Just because it looks easy for someone else doesn’t mean it came easily to them. Consider and appreciate the effort they have put in and then match that effort with your own.
Be the best that you can be.
Beginners- White, Orange and Red belts
By Jess Muller
I feel that beginners should spend the majority of their lesson time working on their fundamentals. This should include: the stances, the blocks, kicks and punches. Also, correct positioning of the body should be taught (weight distribution,) as well as how to correctly execute the moves.
So, in a 90 minutes lesson, 60 minutes should be spent on basic training, with the rest spent on warming up and cooling down. This will ensure that good power, skill and precision is learnt early on without overloading the brain with trying to learn a form as well as basic moves.
Once they have gathered some knowledge on the basics, and can complete each move without assistance, fighting can now be introduced. This is because they have now developed good skill, precision, control and concentration, due to the time spent learning the basics. Now the blocks, kicks and punches can be incorporated into the fighting. This is far more effective (I feel,) because it is easier to develop as they can see the moves being put into practice. Also, there is a smaller chance of injury as they have more knowledge on how to execute the techniques carefully and correctly. Therefore, rather than going into a fight blind with no previous experience, they will be prepared with some moves. By having good fighting skills the individual can gain good power, skill, precision, strength, control and timing, which can be incorporated into the basics and then katas/forms.
Once the basics have been further improved and the individual can now fight with relative skill and competency, it is time to introduce kata and/or forms. Heian Shodan is the first kata that is taught in Shotokan Karate. It encompasses the basic head and stomach height punches, as well as the downward block (Gedan Barai.) This is all the kata includes so it requires the very basic moves to be correct otherwise this won’t allow the kata to look good and be good. By having a good kata the individual can gain good balance, precision, strength, skill, control and concentration. Thus making the basics better as these new found skills can now be used to improve their basics and fighting. If the club starts learning forms first instead of katas, then the first form they will learn will be the Kickboxing Form. This includes the basic punches (jab, cross, hook and upper cuts to the head,) and two of the basic kicks, front kick (mae-geri,) and roundhouse kick (mawashi geri.) From this you can then learn the same skills as katas, just in different ways.
Advanced Practitioner- Purple to Brown and two white stripes.
By the time that practitioners have reached this level, they are considered advanced grades. The time should be split accordingly to their strengths and weaknesses. For example: if there are 30 people in the class, and 18 aren’t very competent at kata, and the remaining 12 need practice on their fighting, then the time should be split in half evenly. This ensures that everyone can improve in their certain weakness, but also improve in another area even more. By improving your weaknesses, you are making yourself a rounded martial artist as you are good at everything and not just one thing.
In a 90 minute class, the time divide will probably not be equal. More time will be spent or fighting drills or combinations rather than the basic techniques. Or you may start off with the basics quickly (as a warm up for 15 minutes,) and go into kata for 45 minutes and then fighting for 30 minutes. This helps to make sure that everyone is improving in every area, and not just in one.
As advanced grades, they should be learning more advanced fundamentals like multiple kicks on one leg and combinations of moves. There shouldn’t be a long time spent on fundamentals (like there is for beginners,) but the focus should be on the fighting and kata.
In fighting, individuals should now be thinking about: the gaps for the techniques, the speed, precision, guard and the techniques. This is because they can fight at these grades, and know what they are doing, but they need to understand their opponent too. Also, it is about pushing the individuals so that they have to think about where they are going instead of aimlessly throwing techniques. By understanding your opponent, you can read them to see any tell-tale signs of movement, or to see what techniques they do the most.
In their kata/forms work, they should know at least 3-5 forms (kickboxing form, close quarter form, power hands, 16 gates and possibly 13 hands.) This is for purple belts – higher grades should know all of the forms. Or the katas: heian shodan, heian nedan, heian sandan, heian yondan and tekki shodan– if they are taught the katas and not forms. This will increase their memory bank of moves as the different katas/forms contain different moves. In addition, they also begin to show different techniques which advanced practitioners need to work on. For example, in tekki shodan, it begins to teach the action of moving the waist and not the hips to generate more power. Likewise the close quarter form teaches this too.
Differences between the grades
A beginner should spend most of their time repeating: basic moves, katas and sets of moves. This will make the muscles remember the move and also make their brains remember how to correctly do a technique, or kata/form or fighting. However, an advanced practitioner would spend their time on increasing the speed of a technique, or the precision of a move or kata/form. They would spend less time repeating the basic moves, just briefly going over them to make sure that everything is correct.
The attitudes should be different as lower grades should be trying to catch up with the higher grades, and trying to improve as quickly as possible. The advanced grades should be looking at improving everything to get to black belt standard as it is in their reach, and still trying to prove how much of a gap there is between them and the lower grades. This shouldn’t be a negative thing; it is a good way of improvement, when you have a target that you are desperate to reach as it is achievable.
Summary of differences
- Lower grades should spend more time on their fundamentals than any other area to get a good basis for katas/forms and fighting. Advanced grades should split the time between the three areas, especially the area that they aren’t so good at.
- More repetition of fundamentals is required for lower grades compared to advanced grades.
- Advanced grades should be improving the speed and precision of the fundamentals whereas the lower grades should be focusing on doing the moves correctly.
- Advanced grades should try to learn harder techniques (multiple kicks, or hard combinations,) compared to lower grades who should get the very basic moves correct first.
- In Katas/Forms, lower grades should know one or two, and make sure that they can remember them and demonstrate them independently. Advanced grades should know multiple katas/forms all at a good standard.
- Advanced grades should think about their body positioning, weight distribution and waist movement to generate power and make every move as strong as possible. Lower grades should think about where the target is for every move and think about what the moves could be used for (Bunkai– analyzing the moves within in a kata/form to see what they could be used for.)
- In Fighting, lower grades should try and use a few basic moves that they know (blocks, punches, front kick and roundhouse kicks,) to the best of their ability. Advanced grades know more techniques, so they should put them into practice to see if they work well for them as an individual.
- Advanced grades should think about the openings of the opponent, and throw suitable techniques for that gap. Lower grades should think about where they are aiming their technique – head, stomach or leg.