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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

The Joy of Newbies

There often comes a point in your martial arts training where it's expected that you assist in teaching new students to your program as a part of your rank requirements.

Sometimes this is a formal requirement for rank - a student must complete so-many hours of instructing students before they are eligible to test for the next rank. And sometimes, like in my teacher's school, it's less formal but it still happens.

Me teaching basics to a White Belt

To outsiders, that might seem like it's a little unfair. What if someone isn't interested in being an instructor? How is it fair to new students that they don't get to work directly with the actual instructor of the school in every class? How is it fair to advanced students that they don't get to work on advanced material in classes that they're paying for, after all?

There is a method to this madness.

The fastest way to truly understand what you're doing in the martial arts is to teach it to other people and the heart of a martial arts style lies in its basics. Thus, teaching basics to newbies gives a student a depth of understanding you just can't get any other way.

In my teacher's school, we have a "zero level" for new students where they learn a few core basics and we ease them into banging sticks, as it can be quite intimidating for new students to have stick zinging at their heads full-speed.

I can tell you for a fact that a lot of the epiphanies I've had and truths I've learned about my style have come directly from trying to teach newbies something in those zero levels.

That's what makes teaching newbies a joy - the possibility that I'll discover something else I didn't know about what I do as I try to explain to someone else.

When I'm teaching basics... I am working on advanced material.

That's why I am first to volunteer to teach the newbies and I think it's so fun and useful and rewarding. It's not a burden, it's an opportunity to get better at what I do.

And that's always fun.

Do you enjoy teaching basics? What have you learned you didn't learn any other way? Let us know in the comments!

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