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To Be A Good Teacher

Some people are skilled at Karate but cannot teach it. Some people are good at Karate but are poor teachers. In order to be a good Karate teacher, a person must be skilled at Karate and a good teacher.

I have heard that it is possible to learn Karate, even from a poor teacher. But I do not think that this is true. I think that you can only learn poor Karate from a poor teacher.

A Karate teacher must be able to make corrections on a razor's edge, particularly with respect to body dynamics. Karate is not simply brute punching, blocking and kicking. To quote the commercial, Karate is not so easy that a caveman could do it -- unless the caveman was enlightened and had a great teacher.

If you are going to teach, one of the most important traits you must cultivate is patience. You might have to teach a student something once, twice, a dozen times, a hundred times, even more. You cannot get mad or frustrated. You have to be calm and encouraging. If the student starts to get it on the 99th attempt, you have to be able to say "that's it!" without missing a beat.

The student learns from your patience and enthusiasm -- he learns to be a good teacher like you.

If you compliment the student 99 times and criticize him once, he will remember the criticism and forget all the compliments. Years from now, he will still think about the criticism.

I always say that my students' errors are my errors and my students accomplishments are their accomplishments. I mean this.

My wife often says that I am passionate about teaching. I never really thought about it, but afte she said it I realized that it was true. What I mean is this -- whatever kata or technique I am teaching, I have the feeling that it is the most important thing in the world, at least at that moment. To me, Naihanchi Shodan is great -- an honor to learn and teach. The same goes for Fukyugata Ichi, Passai, or Kusanku. Any kata is great. Every kata is great. None are better or worse -- unless you make them that way.

I like to say that you can learn all of Karate from a single technique. By this I mean that learning one technique properly will have an effect on all the techniques you know. It is like DNA. If you can look at Karate at the DNA level, then there is infinite potential in each and every technique. The building blocks of Karate are actually quite simple. The only problem is in the assembly.

I have been influenced the most by my two Shorin-Ryu Sensei, Sensei Rodney Shimabukuro (whom I started learning from in 1976 or so), and Sensei Katsuhiko Shinzato (whom I started learning from in 2002). They have several things in common, but the most notable is great enthusiasm for the art. When you learn from them, you really want to learn. Their enthusiasm is contagious. It is as if the fire inside of them makes you catch on fire too.

They do not make you do anything. Being the way they are makes you want to train hard and improve yourself.

If you have a good teacher, you are very fortunate. You should make the best use of that opportunity and become a good teacher yourself.


Charles C. Goodin