There is a teaching principle that many teachers are unaware of, that I would like to share.
Often, many teachers are not actually trained as instructors or teachers. Rather, they are simply taught the art and very little attention is given to actually teaching the future instructor or teacher how to teach. This is one of the aspects of the martial arts that I believe is missing, that can weaken a style’s proponents within one or two generations. It is the reason for the saying–that I will argue against, but actually agree with–that one needs teaching skill rather than fighting skill to become a good teacher.
Let me jump in to make a few points that I will not explain today so that we could stay focused on the main idea of the article:
- Although one does actually need teaching skill to pass on an art–the presence of teaching skill does not negate the imperative need for the instructor to have fighting skill (or have had fighting skill in his past),
- While it is possibly true that a good fighter will yield mediocre or poor students, strictly imitation and adopting the fighter’s training habits will most likely produce a good fighter–although not necessarily that student’s potential,
- The teacher-to-be and instructor-to-be must be a student of the craft, as well as a student of the art of teaching, in order to be effective in their own way, and
- You may notice that I distinguish between “teacher” and “instructor”. That is because there is a difference. And I will not expound on this difference today, however.
Back to the article… Teachers must also have the right philosophy towards the art of teaching if he and his students (or her and her students) are to be successful. And that philosophy was not present in the preparing of Saul Alvarez (aka “Canelo”) for his fight with Floyd Mayweather.
It’s simple, and if you are a reader of this blog or a student of my martial arts philosophy, you have heard me say this: Teachers must not fear allowing their fighters to take a whipping. Teachers must also ensure that their fighters gain their own experiences, even if they are painful lessons. In the case of Alvarez Canelo, he is a well-trained fighter to fight other fighters. However, he was not taught to deal with the type of style that Mayweather uses. No amount of bag work, running, pushups, shadowboxing, sparring, or anything else textbook gymwork would have prepared him for this fight.
You must understand that fighting is not an exact science. When a man shows you how to stop a jab, he is only showing you how to stop one type of jab. There are many variations to everything you can do in a fight, and there are many substyles to every type of fighting. This is why I dislike the “How to Fight Tae Kwon Do/Muay Tai/Boxing/Jujitsu” seminars martial artists love to put on. That’s like buying a book entitled “How to Cook American Food”; American cuisine is made up of many regions, many cultures, and there are many variations to each one of those. In the art of boxing, there is a “textbook” style of boxing–but one style’s “textbook boxing” will vary from another. A good example is to look at what is done in Mexican gyms versus Black gyms from the East Coast. While to the novice, it’s all boxing. Yet the styles will vary greatly from one style of fighting to the other, and you cannot ignore the individual flavors, nuances and habits–strengths and weakness–of them.
Simply put, Canelo fought a different style of boxing than one he was used to, and they throw him in with not just a fighter who uses that style… He fought the best that style of fighting had to offer. It was foolish. Alvarez is a good fighter. But he is like a pro golfer who is thrown onto the basketball court and asked to play one-on-one with Kobe Bryant.
Okay, maybe that was extreme. Hopefully, you get my point.
Mayweather isn’t doesn’t have the fastest hands. He is not the strongest man in the ring. He is not a devastating puncher. He isn’t the smartest. But Mayweather is a master of a style his father and uncle perfected, and is unique in that few understand this style well enough to beat him. Canelo did not lose because he wasn’t good enough. He lost because he fought a strange style and couldn’t figure out how to counter and attack the fighter using that style.
As a teacher, you may not understand every style your fighters will encounter. And this is where teachers must humble themselves and bring someone in who knows. Or go out and learn more about that style so you can bring the results of that research to the students in your gym. Just do NOT theorize what could be done and then throw your guys in the ring and hope it worked. You are the expert, you’re just not the expert of everything. Understand that, and you will have success.
Finally, adopt your fighters’ losses as your own, and do not allow them to feel like they lost. Fighters are simply an extension of your knowledge and experience, and if a fighter trained hard, was in top shape, and did exactly what you told them to do–the team failed. Find out what needs to be done to improve his or her success and then make it happen.
For too many teachers, they refuse to accept that they don’t know everything, and force their students to do only what the teacher knows how to do, and repeat the outcome… Over, and over, and over again. Learn what you can, or bring someone in who can teach them. The Master’s personal art should evolve throughout his youth, throughout his teaching career, throughout his life. It never changes until he passes on.
Even when you believe your fighters are the best in the business. There will always be a higher peak to climb, a better fighter to conquer.
Thank you for visiting my blog.