“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

Producing Good FMA Instructors, pt VI

Learn the different learner types and teach them accordingly

As martial arts teachers we should learn student types, just as one would study fighter types. Each martial arts student has a preferred method of learning, and many of these students find it difficult to learn in any other form of learning than the one that suits them best. The teacher must observe how a new student reacts to various teaching styles (assuming that you utilize several forms of teaching in your classes), and once that student has been categorized, tailor the training to suit his personality.

I cannot go into detail with each type of learner (that is going to be saved for the book, Filipino Fighting Secrets Live:  Teaching Philosophy… Keep checking back with me for updates!), but I would like to introduce them to you to get your juices flowing:

  • The Intellectual–these students must make logic of everything they do. Sometimes, you can just do something because you’ve been told and eventually it begins to make sense. Take for example Chi Sao. Some students will simply do it, and months down the road realize that there is an application for it in real fighting. Yet others must see the logic in how it works, once you learn it, before they can understand how to play Chi Sao. With these students you will have to explain everything in detail and answer questions. It’s not that the student is being a smart aleck; he just doesn’t understand many techniques and skills unless you explain it in simple terms.
  • The Feeler–these students cannot watch a technique and know how to apply it well. For them, they must have hands-on experience with close supervision. Have you had a student who puts his right hand out when you say go left? Or twists the opponent’s wrist the wrong way when you showed him the correct method? He is not uncoordinated, he just is not a good imitator. This type of student must do it himself in order to “get it”. Many of these students will require you to be hands-on as well:  you will have to grab his hand and turn it for him, or get very close to have him mimic your movement while he is doing it.
  • The Imitator–this is the student who learns well by watching. You don’t even have to explain what you’re doing because this student sees what you did and can replicate it immediately. But don’t be content when he is “doing it” right, because there is a difference between performance and understanding, and one can be an Imitator and an Intellect at the same time.
  • The Challenger–this is the kind of student I am. Most techniques I see, I think “won’t work on me”. This is not a wise guy, he is simply a student who sees the counter to every technique he learns. The best way to make the Challenger learn? Put him with The Brawler and let them work it out.  Speaking of The Brawler…
  • The Brawler–this is the student who learns “moves” and not “techniques and strategies”. He is the kind of student who takes exactly what you taught him, and uses it on his classmates exactly as you taught him. While this seems like a good thing, it does have some shortcomings:  he is often very heavy handed and aggressive, and prone to accidents. On the good side, this student makes everything you teach him practical.
  • The Dreamer–this student must do the techniques in his mind before being able to perform it. This is the guy who is waving his hands around while you are teaching, and each time you demo a technique, he hits “replay” in his mind and tries it out while registering it in his memory. I am this type of student in a way, and I can tell you from experience, that even if he does not practice a skill much, he can improve the skill by performing it in his mind. In Kung Fu, I have learned over 50 forms, and I remember them because I’ve “performed” them in my mind. Some students need a hand-on experience, where this type of learner can just watch it, replay, and then “get it”.

Well, Mrs. thekuntawman wants me to cut the grass. Thank you for visiting my blog!

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