Gichin Funakoshi (Founder of Shotokan Karate) said “Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.”
Effectively what he’s saying is that unless one keeps training, then one loses ones skills. You may have become a Black Belt 2, 5, 10, 15 or whatever years ago. But unless you’ve kept up regular practice and training, ideally under a more senior instructor, then sadly your skills atrophy and decline very rapidly.
As a teacher, you have the responsibility to not only keep your skills and knowledge upto date, but to actually improve upon them. If you aren’t then consider what kind of example, as a teacher, you are setting your students.
I’m not going to name them but there are lots of videos on the Internet to serve as evidence, if you can really be bothered to look. There are many examples of Martial Arts practitioners who were excellent when they trained, but they became teachers and then heads of their own associations and some even became ‘Masters’ (I use that term in a very loose manner) and then became pretty abysmal, due to lack of training
Sure as we get older into our 40s and 50s most of us can’t train in exactly the same way as we used to do when we were in our 20s. The big secret….You don’t have to. You have to train the best that you can right NOW and learn to adapt what you do and how you do it. But you still have to train.
One of my teachers Steve Rowe from Shikon had replacement knees fitted several years ago and there were some very big issues post surgery, which meant he couldn’t walk properly. Three years on and he is finally starting to walk without the aid of a stick. However during that time he has continued to train (and teach) some of the time he’s been seated whilst training and even engaged in pushing hands and other fighting drills this way. Earlier this week when I saw him, he had made a major leap of progress in that he was able to stand on one leg and balance whilst practising a form. It might not sound a lot, but after his surgery that was a fairly big deal and came after six months of hard work to achieve it. The message was clear. Small incremental, intelligent improvement to skills was the way forward.
I’ve been training for a ‘few years’ now, I’ve trained under many of the older generation of top international and national Karate teachers. I could sit back on my laurels and take it easy. I don’t. Why? Well simply there’s still too much too learn and improve upon. To sign off on a ‘fun note’ here’s a short video of me practising some Judo (and getting thrown around) with Chris Doherty 6th Dan from the British Judo Association, (who is the Regional Technical Officer for our area.) and learning how to do it, properly.
If you’re a coach, remember that old adage and make sure in your case it isn’t true. “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, coach.”