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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

It's A Thing, but not THE Thing

So we're working some drills in class.

One pair of students off to the side are doing the drill, but not the way we showed them how to do it.

The thing is, the thing they're doing isn't wrong, in itself, it's just not the specific thing we want them to work on, in this specific drill, on this specific day.

It's A Thing, but not THE Thing.

I say that a lot in class. Heck, I've heard that a lot from my own instructors.

It means: "Yes, you can certainly do that, but I want you to do it this way right now, because of reasons".

It seems similar to the phrase I first heard from Datu Dieter Knüttel at one of his seminars I attended back in the day.

He said, "Not wrong, just different."

Datu Dieter means that he's showing you the way he prefers something to be done in a situation, but he acknowledges there are different ways to tackle the same problem.

"A Thing not THE Thing" means something slightly different than what Datu was saying. Not only are we acknowledging that there's more than one way to solve the problem, we also would solve it the other way, but NOT RIGHT NOW.

I'm sure all of you reading this have been in this situation, as a student and if you're teaching, as an instructor, too.

Most of our students are relatively new to training in Arnis (and they're developing super-fast, which is a HUGE thrill for us), so we're still working on a lot of basics in the drills we teach.

But to my great pride, all of our students are creative, and very engaged, and thinking hard about what they're doing in class. They often stumble on a different but equally valid technique, aka "A Thing", that works, so they don't realize it's not what we've asked them to do until we point it out to them.

I love it when they discover that stuff, I really do.

I certainly do not want to discourage their creativity and ownership of problem solving. We're training folks to think for themselves, and to make what we teach theirs. So, I'll say, "Nice idea, that's certainly valid, but I want you to do it this way right now."

Later on, we'll return to the problem and solve it in different ways, including the one they've discovered... but not today.

Today, we do it the way we are showing you how to do it.

A Thing, not THE Thing.

How do you deal with students getting... creative... with what you're teaching in the moment? Let us know in the comments!

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