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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Changing Modes

I started helping my teacher out in class pretty early in my training - we were a small group, after all, and after I reached a certain point (I want to say green belt?), he trusted me with basics for new students.

Over time, he entrusted me (and Mr. Chick) with more and more.

After we were promoted to 1st degree black, we opened up our own program at a nearby recreation center, under the tutelage of our teacher. But we still spent about 75% of our martial arts time training with him in one way or another.

When we moved to Kansas City, we almost immediately started a Meetup.

Seriously, it wasn't even a full month! I moved on June 4, we started the Meetup on June 16, 2018.

We started the Meetup to serve two purposes - to reserve training time for Mr. Chick and I, and to attract others for us to teach and work with, to hopefully form the nucleus of a new school.

After the Meetup was going for about a year or so, we partnered with friends we'd met through our Texas connections who have a school here, and we started another class once a week in a different part of town.

Since then, except for a few rare (and welcome) circumstances, we typically are either the ones leading the group, or we're helping others teach, but either way, we we're usually teaching others.

We spend most of our training time in teacher mode since we moved in 2018.

Not that you don't learn things when you're in teacher mode. You REALLY learn a lot when you're teaching other people. Some might say that's the only way to truly understand what you're doing, when you teach it to other people.

Teacher mode means you're responsible for everyone else's training when you teach. While I enjoy teaching (I considered it as a full-time profession at one point), it is always a little stressful for me, because I really want our students to not only learn well and correctly, but to enjoy themselves doing it.

Teacher mode done right is about 85% providing good content that is communicated well, and about 15% being an entertainer.

Think about the great teachers you have. They made what we do fun, even if it was a whole lot of repetition.

If I had a nickel for every time someone said this to me, I'd have ALL THE NICKELS. Click on the image to see the source.

You can be the greatest martial artist alive, but if you are boring, you won't keep students.

If they're not having fun, they won't stick.

This means my training time - except solo, of course - is more like going to a job, versus personal development in a hobby.

My teacher visited recently, and when he's here, I get to just be a student, mostly.

It's a huge relief to be able to just revert back to student mode once in a while!

Student mode is where you can just concentrate on your own progress, and in the moment, at least, it's not 100% your responsibility to make sure everyone in the room is getting it.

My job is for ME to "get it".

Of course, I'm doing it with an eye to teaching our students, but still, in the moment, I'm back on the mat in, say, 2012, just trying to figure out what I'm being shown for myself.

I don't have to worry about being entertaining or making sure everybody's having fun or making sure everyone understands what's being taught. That's my teacher's worry!

I get to just relax and learn.

It's awesome.

How much time do you spend in student vs. teacher mode? Do you prefer one or the other (after all, not everyone wants to teach). Let us know what you think!

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