New students are the life blood to a martial arts school. It is their excitement and enthusiasm that often bring a breath of fresh air in a martial arts program and at times they are so eager to learn, you would think that they wanted to have their black belt yesterday. Despite their lack in coordination, training and experience, students and teachers alike can learn from the white belt student's example in eagerness.
After years and years of training and teaching, people sometimes fall into the death trap of the teaching side of the martial arts: routine. Partly, it's human nature. After an extended period of time, teachers (and even students) know the ins and outs of their martial arts program and can default into an autopilot mode. Teaching in autopilot can work for a little while, but it leaves the back door of a martial arts school wide open. Once the student becomes bored with the routine, they will move on to something else.
Whether you are looking to keep from falling into the dreaded "routine" or you are looking for a way to get out of it, these three tips can help break up the monotony:
1. Love what you teach!
After many years of training and teaching, it should be clear that you really do love your chosen martial art. Think back to when you were just starting your own training. For most, the memory of breaking that first board or winning that first tournament is completely unforgettable. Whenever you begin to feel like you are slipping back into the monotony of routine, think back to those times and create similar experiences for your students!
2. Be professional
After years of being around the same students, there is a temptation of becoming lax in your dealings with them. Always remember that your students (from children to adults) come to your martial arts school to see you as their teacher & role model. If you were to carry yourself with an attitude that is anything less than that of a teacher, role model, & business owner, students may begin to feel that you no longer take them and your art seriously.
3. Mix it up
I will never forget the time when I was 8 years old, studying karate under Mr. Coram. At the beginning of class one day, he announced that we would be practicing thunder kicks that day. Naturally, everyone was curious and excited. This was something that we had never heard of and everyone was very eager to find out what he would be showing us. It was then that he produced several sheets of "thunder paper" (which were really sheets of unused x-ray film) and told us that if we were able to kick them just right, it would sound like thunder. In reality, it was a fun and creative way for us to practice the same kicks that we had been practicing all along with a fun twist. By the end of class, Mr. Coram's "thunder kicks" idea was such a success, that everyone in my class (myself included) was talking about it in school for the next few days.
Breaking up the monotony of routine by mixing things up requires you to be mentally engaged in planning your classes in advance. It requires a creative mindset and seizing opportunities as they arise.