"You're expecting too much from them, Colin."

I was chatting with a good friend who is an extremely experienced and highly regarded martial arts teacher - one who has many more years over me. I have shared a few things with him in the past and he has seen me often in seminar type settings. He has not however sat in on my week-to-week traditional taekwondo classes; though he is acquainted with my student body across the years through social gatherings.

Tonight, amongst other things, he said to me that I may be expecting too much from my martial arts students, that I hold them up to too high a standard, and therefore they are not completing their program with me ... that they do not get to see the benefit of the entire course because they are not accomplishing enough before they get to where I want them to go.

I was happy to tell him that while my group is small, most of my students stay with me on average 1.5 to 2 years. And he is familiar with the fact that those whom he has come across have been very enthusiastic and passionate about the group.

In regards to my supposed unrealistic expectations -- all I can say is that while I myself have pushed ahead with my own research and development, training, documentation, and presentation, I coach each student only at their own pace and only within the rank framework that we have. This means that while they are not ranking upwards quickly, they do gain growth of skill, confidence, and knowledge -- these are very important to me.

I post this info not asking to be defended - I take it as remark made between very good friends but based on incomplete information. However, I'd like to ask you for your opinion. Have you been asked to do something you've not been ready for? Have you been pushed to do better? Are you clear as to what has been asked of you in your own class? And instructors -- do you put your own expectations of yourself on your students??? Lastly, who would you go to to give you advice like this?

My Traditional Taekwondo
Expectations in Studio 5

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop


supergroup7 said…
It is my joy to be able to share my thoughts with you on this topic:

Have I been asked to do something that I've not been ready for? ALL of my life. I wasn't ready for Kindergarten, but I had to enter that new world, and learn to cope with being separated from my family, and thrust into an environment filled with insanity, and confusion. I could not speak English, but I was expected to survive the day to day class rules, and regulations regardless. I wasn't ready to be a Mom, but when that baby was placed in my arms, I had to face the fears, insecurities, and hopes within me, and rise to the challenge. I wasn't ready for the demands of training in Martial Arts but I held my hope of being successful in front of me as a beacon.

Have I been pushed to do better? By every good Sensei that I have been lucky enough to train under. They sought for my fullest expression rather than settling for "just good enough".

Am I clear as to what has been asked of me in my own class? OH yes. There are no doubts, I am to give my best, and no less. Technical perfection..well.. that takes time, but doing my best can be done in every instance.

As for answering as an "instructor"
I can say that I only asked of my students what I felt was their best working within their strengths, and limitations. I expected them to work towards their goal of becoming better at their efforts. I felt that they needed to take ownership of their progress so that they can feel that they accomplished something.

Who would I go to to give me advice like this? I'm sorry Colin, but I fail to understand this question. As a mother, I do not make my parenting choices based on the expectations, and assumptions of other mothers. I look at who I am, who my children are, what my goals are, and I work with what I've got. I would do the same as a Sensei. Some people will feel that I'm too strict, other will feel that I am too lenient. What matters is how I feel when I walk away from that moment, and if the results are as I would like them to be.
Bob Patterson said…
Collin -

Keep doing what you do! I passed between two good sabums and one overseeing master who took a similar approach.

They pushed me far beyond what I thought I was capable of. They also worked within my framework of physical limitations--most notably my age!

Also, 15 years ago I made it to 5th gup in a taekwondo school that was very watered down. If I would have stuck with this school I could have gotten a black belt but so what? I often remarked to my most recent instructors that most 5th gups from our school (now closed) could take many of the first dans from my old school.

Standards are good and you only set your students up for failure if you lower yours!

Those who read my blog know I can be critical of taekwondo. However, this is not meant as disrespect. At the end of the day I've gotten SO much out of my 1st dan journey that I think I'll be realizing many lessons for years to come, regardless of what art I find myself in!
Colin Wee said…
Cheers and thanks for both of your responses.

As I said before I did not become defensive nor self-conscious when presented with constructive criticism given in good faith.

It was not surprising to me anyway. This instructor friend of mine has seen only a part of our martial arts 'adventure' -- that is during the seminars that I give from time to time. It is at those seminars where I present lessons very much beyond what is needed by day-to-day classes.

I have also shared at some length my thoughts on development of karate, taekwondo, the resulting bunkai or interpretations, and their impact on a beginner's syllabus.

This could all be too high-falutin', and I see where he is coming from.

But yes, I would like my students to work towards a certain goal, and yes I would not be happy if they just came to class to expect an aerobics lesson. But they are all growing in measured baby steps - and I so far am happy with their individual progress.


Mathieu said…
hi there, joining belatedly

Have you been asked to do something you've not been ready for?

Sure. Do some kihon and kata then boom, reach for gold in kumite. wtf?? I absolutely hated that experience. I rose up, but not because I was ready to do so.

Have you been pushed to do better?
Sure! each time I go to a seminar. Otherwise, it's up to me.

Are you clear as to what has been asked of you in your own class?

Nope. Not at all.

I feel sometimes like teachers don't expect enough.
Colin Wee said…
I have had a conversation several times before with long time students of the martial arts. Sometimes the journey is not so simple as to be handed to you on a plate. I reflect on my own path and had to push really hard to continue to progress within the martial arts. Last thing I would like to be right now is the older version of myself who prided himself on speed and flashy kicks. As for your training experiences, I hear you brother ... I had very much the same experience when I was competing at a national level in archery. It was not the best experience being pushed into something you have not adequately trained for and yet carry expectations to deliver fame and glory. I guess nothing in life is really perfect, so when I myself approach something like this I'd have to evaluate what I'm getting out of the entire experience. So long as it doesn't make you lose ground or put you in a bad place, well, you could stick with it or shop for some other alternate. I did that ...


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