Good Teachers, Good Students… blah, blah, blah

I was on a thread on Karateforums, and the subject of child prodigies came up. This was along the lines of child Black Belts, and which children were qualified to be Black Belts, and how high do we set the standard.

I am of the “Black Belt is the end of the road” cloth, while some believe that “Black Belt is just the beginning”. There is some validity to the “other” view. Black Belt is the beginning of the road for a new journey. However, the Black Belt is considered an “expert”, and you do not take students who lack the skill, knowledge nor expertise and award them with such an honor. You have to admit, what fuels this practice is income. This is due to the fact that the average Black Belt test fee is $250, and schools are graduating up to 100 new Black Belts a year. I believe that we should set a high bar for the students to shoot for, and then ask them to actually meet that goal. While we like to talk about martial arts training developing confidence and self esteem, what better way to build those things but by developing students who attain that which was thought impossible? The consensus seemed to be that many teachers do not feel that students are capable of meeting those goals, and alas! The truth comes out! Teachers simply do not expect much out of their students, because they just don’t think they can help their students reach that level of skill. They do not expect much because they don’t think their students can do it.

Or is it that the teacher himself isn’t capable of teaching students who are anything less than “child prodigies”?

Sure, any teacher can take a naturally gifted athletic child and make him into a champion, but is that an indication of a skilled teacher? Or luck of the litter? I have always maintained that a true master can turn any student–fat, skinny, cowardly–into the type of martial arts fighter they’d like to be. But the truth is, that some teachers just aren’t capable of teaching and molding every student. There are mediocre teachers, just as there are mediocre students, and poorly skilled teachers often breed poorly skilled students. Sincerity has nothing to do with it; it is a technical skill. If those teachers have never learned how to mold, and have never achieved great skill themselves, it is very unlikely that they will be able to develop this in their students.

The answer to this problem lies within the teachers. They must commit to developing their own personal skill and knowledge first. Teachers are frequently satisfied with simply achieving certification, and never putting their skills to the test. They make excuses not to compete, or spar, and really have no measuring yardstick to assessing their skills beyond who likes them and how many associations they build.

Good teachers often lead to good students. And if you look at the average classmate of most of these so-called “child prodigies”, you will find good skill in most of them, and you need to look not much further behind them to find a great teacher. “Child prodigy” is actually an illusion. When you see one, you are looking at a combination of good student, good teaching, and a whole lot of practice and dedication. To state anything less is unfair to the student’s commitment and hard work, and an insult.


Thank you for reading my blog. Please stop by and visit us again!

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

One thought on “Good Teachers, Good Students… blah, blah, blah”

  1. this question is what is an apropriate age to drive, each person needs to be assest on an individual basis of course. many dojos are teaching to separate curriculums to child n adults to b able go give a black belt to a child. unfortunately thats the end of the road for them b/c they feel that wuz the goal, and mayb for them its is. there is no real end to the martial arts journey, its how far you choose to develope yourself mentally physically n spiritually. iv trained for 23 consecutive yrs, started when i was 5 n trained in a number of different style, atleast 5. iv set a age limit of 16 to be able to earn a black belt in my dojo and even that i feel is to young and achieving a bb in 3 yrs rediculious, as u said a bb is to signify an expert, or atleast a master of the basics. but what are the basics? i believ thats been lost, stay true to our arts dont lower our standards. continue to raise the bar n show people that thay are capapble of achieving the impossible. by giving out bb so freely n quikly wer losing its meaning, every1 can acheiving but not every1 will allow that greatness to shine through. we are only as worthy as we allow ourselvs to be. do you train in the martial arts or are you a martial artist, whats more important money large schools having hundreds of students, or the developement of character and of the art. be the last of a dieing breed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.