Rick's Training Tips

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Tip: What kind of school do you want?

on JUN. / 22 / 2011 | 1 comments

I know what kind of question is that? But all too often our schools take on a life of their own. Has it become a business? Do you go just because you have to? Has it lost it fun aspect to you? If you find yourself in this place your not mentally in the right place to teach from the heart. I have been taught, and I believe many will agree with me, teaching is about giving something of yourself to others. And when it isn’t fun anymore, then it feels more like they are taking than you giving. I think you can see how this is not helpful for you or anyone else in your class room.

What can you do about it? Ask yourself some questions like, what do you like? What don’t you like? What was it like when you enjoyed it? Was there some event that changed it? Sometimes the answer is right there for the taking. But the challenge is how do you change it. I think all too often we forget about the fact that there are people around us, not just paying students. And you need to focus on what is important, people are. And when you help fulfill them, you will fulfill yourself.

I think one thing that has changed has been the sense of community. This isn’t just something that happens with your students, it is everywhere. It used to be everyone one knew all their neighbors for blocks around them, or miles in the country. Today, we are lucky to know a handful. We used to have to depend on one another. And everyone had a sense of responsibility for one another. No you can’t go around and fix that, but you can in your own classroom. Set up a potluck or a picnic. Or some other activity outside the formality of the classroom. Let people get to know one another and rebuild that sense of community. Some of your students have very few friends. Some may have an abundant, but those are the ones that love to have more. Work on changing your mind set a little and remember that there is a person under that uniform. And I know that once you have built a community within your classroom, you will no longer view going to class as a job.

Tip: Depression and Tae Kwon Do

on MAY. / 03 / 2011 | 0 comments

Depression is all too common these days. Most are not diagnosed as clinically depressed, but everyone experiences various stressors that cause them depressed moments. As adults we develop better coping methods than children and teens do.  You never know when a student recently lost a loved one or a teen is dealing with some type of stress at school. Regardless, the same tips will help all of them.

There is never a better time to give encouragement than now. When people feel depressed they tend to think negative thoughts, so when they struggle with something in class it can reinforce those negative thoughts. However, encouraging them to keep trying and helping them succeed at the task at hand will greatly work towards reducing those thoughts. If you feel someone is struggling with a bad day, it may be best to go with a smaller step than a big step to ensure positive thoughts. However, having a student do something new and even difficult and then succeed can be even a more powerful encouragement. You need to make sure you are balancing their skill with the task and have confidence they will succeed.

Depression makes people feel fatigued and it can be a struggle for them to come to class. Regular exercise has been proven to be extremely beneficial in fighting depression. So it is important that they keep moving and are active. And when you see someone down, suggesting they practice their forms at home that week, could go a long way. You will never really know what things help or don’t. Many times, neither will your students. But every little bit helps and can make a huge difference. Encourage them to come to class, especially if you know someone is struggling with some bad stressors and are missing class. Call them if necessary. The activity will do them more good than they realize. Even encourage them to go for a walk and get some sun is also known to help. So if they don’t come to class, encourage them to get out and do something.

The social network people have can play a huge role in how people feel. Not just in those feeling depressed. If the class room is in a negative mood, so will the people attending class, so keeping class up beat is always a good thing. Encourage outside relationships between your students; if that means having a potluck on test day to help them get to know one another, then do it. The more people we have around us that support us and care, the better.  

Tip: Down Syndrome and Tae Kwon Do

on APR. / 27 / 2011 | 0 comments

One in about 700 births today is with a Down Syndrome baby. And the odds are highest for older parents. I have been around many different people with this syndrome, starting with my own childhood. And it has been a very positive experience with all of them. However, some may have some physical disabilities that will require some extra help or prevent them from joining. If you have a student with these disabilities it will be very important that their parents stay for class, preferably they become a student and move through the ranks with their child. That will be an awesome bonding experience for them as well as some great encouragement for the both of them. Some can suffer from seizures, etc. and you really need to have someone there ready and able to address their needs immediately.

 There are many great things about having a Down Syndrome student in Tae Kwon Do. For one, they are usually upbeat about things, they can be more compassionate towards others, and find a great deal of enjoyment in minor improvements. Although like any child, they can get frustrated and angry. Sometimes just giving them some space is all they need. The pressure they feel is much different than what an adult or another student of the same age would feel. In reality, they are simply developmentally slower than others. And in Tae Kwon Do, you will not find them much different than others at the same mental age. Sometimes it is easier just to think of them as a younger person is an older body.

The two great advantages that Tae Kwon Do can do for a Down Syndrome student is help them develop fine motor skills and the confidence it can build. You will find they have a desire to do well and it can be a good thing as it can spread to other students who see their attitude. And you will not see a bigger smile than when they do something well, break a board, etc. There is a huge encouragement factor that Tae Kwon Do can add to these students. Your words and tone will communicate tenfold with them. Go slow, be proud of the little things, and you will have an awesome student.

However, some students will not be emotionally or physically ready. Emotionally, they could find the class too much of a challenge and it will come out negatively. So you do need to be prepared to say it is not the right time for them to start. It can be very hard to do, but if they are emotionally stressed over the class too much, it will cause more problems than it will benefits.  Usually it is easy to recognize when the time is right, just look at their expressions of their face, if is positive most of the time, you are in good shape and so are they.  Generally, they do not hide how they feel, so all you have to do is be observant.

Tip: Tae Kwon Do and ADHD

on APR. / 19 / 2011 | 0 comments

Well I have chosen this topic first mainly because it is so common today. It affects many adults as well as children. As a general rule people suffering from ADHD have issues with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Or in more simple terms, they have a hard time staying focused and get bored easily; they have a very hard time standing still, and can blurt out statements or act without thinking. I am sure you can see how that will be a struggle for a typical Tae Kwon Do class.

Students, as they mature, learn coping techniques, and this is a very critical part of growing to a point where ADHD is easily managed for them as adults. This is where Tae Kwon Do comes into play because this is a fun activity for them, and usually can get their attention easily compared to other activities allowing them to practice those maturing skills. Although some parts can drag on and you lose their attention but remember you have them for about three hours a week where they are practicing standing still and following instruction. The better they get with you in your class the easier it will be for them to do the same things elsewhere such as in school or in their future career.

Usually you can address the inattention easily with keeping things moving at a quick pace. Do not spend a lot of time explaining things. I am guilty of explaining the same thing three times, usually by the third time you have lost their attention. So if you are having them stand still, get to your point, make it and move on. Change things up frequently, sometimes it might be better to work on forms for 15 minutes, do something else and go back to forms for 15 minutes, rather than work on forms for 30 minutes straight. You do not need to break things up all the time; life does not always change just for them, so they need to learn to work in all situations. But as the instructor, you have the ability to choose your battles, and sometimes doing a simple change up can change the whole class flow for the better. Being attentive to what is going on is your best tool.

On one side, hyperactivity will look like they are excited to get going and doing. Sometimes it is just an all out war for them to stand still. But you need to remember, it isn’t that they don’t want to, they just can’t. And if you are boring, then their ability to sit or stand still is just that much more difficult. As I posted earlier, find things for them to move like toes and thumbs, and let them know it is ok to move them. Constantly yelling at them to stand still is not going to get anything done. You get frustrated and they feel embarrassed every time attention is drawn to them. So remember they are trying. Never let frustration take control of your class.

Impulsive behavior will likely be your least concern. You may see it as they rush to be first in line, or do forms too fast, but generally, you might just want to let some of that slide if you are working on the other two issues. Choose what things are important and stick to those. Do not nitpick on every little thing they do you wish they didn’t do.

Just as they practice and make their punches better, their kicks higher and faster, they are also practicing something they will need all their lives and often throughout every day. Regardless, of what they do in life as a career, a parent, or a future Tae Kwon Do instructor, they will be able to do it more effectively because they got to practice and work on their coping techniques with you and in your class. Encourage them whenever you can, the more you do that, the better they will feel about coming to class. They will feel good about themselves. Believe me, the one thing you can do that will help everyone regardless of their needs, is to encourage!

Currently, most of the medications for ADHD only work while the medication is in their system and metabolizes fast. However, the side effects of these medications can cause people to not eat and it prevents them from sleeping. So generally, if a student is on any medication, it will be structured so that it will be wearing off in the evening so that they can eat a good dinner and sleep that night. What that means for you as an instructor, is if they are in your evening classes, their medication will be wearing off while they are in class. So it is important you understand this. If they are in school, early evening is better than later. On weekends, try and have your class start as early in the day as possible. Sometimes Tae Kwon Do schools are too small to have different classes throughout the day, but for those that do, it is something worth considering when working out schedules, especially on test day.

Think about how you can set your students up for success and not failure.

Tip: Everyone has a Special Need

on APR. / 14 / 2011 | 0 comments

When I started Tae Kwon Do I was in my 40s and I can assure you that those first few weeks I was reminded of my age constantly. When I started, it was quite obvious what my special needs were. But sometimes, those needs are not so obvious or even known by anyone. I know of one adult female student who had come from an abusive background. Unknown to me, she was struggling with being timid to the point that she found it hard to go do things. After being involved in Tae Kwon Do for a year or so, she actually admitted to me that she was a lot more confident and it gave her the ability to act when in the past it was more difficult.

Clearly, most of your students are not going to be adults but are going to be children and teens. And each one of them will have their very own issues. Some may be dealing with bullying while others are suffering from ADHD, and you may or may not ever know. But understand that Tae Kwon Do is a therapy that can help with the numerous things that people are dealing with. For some, it may simply be a confidence builder, while with another you are giving them a much deeper way to prepare for life.  Some handicapped people can write books on perseverance and courage and are just looking for a place to be as normal as possible. For some it is a choice to come to practice because actually coming to practice is difficult. But they choose to move forward when quitting would be easier. I praise them for their effort.

I am going to start a series of posts addressing various special needs one topic at a time. In those posts, I hope to explain what that special need means and how Tae Kwon Do can assist in life.  My desire is that you as the instructor are prepared and not nervous about being part of someone’s therapy. And in fact, that you will recognize the importance of your role and be more than just a teacher, but someone who can encourage them as well.  And I would also hope that this will assist parents in understanding how Tae Kwon Do can be a benefit to their child. Every person is unique with unique needs so I am only going to be giving you generalizations, and if you do end up with a student who has needs beyond your understanding and you need more, I would encourage you to take some time to work with their parents or them directly if they are old enough. I know many mental health professionals see martial arts as a tool to help teach coping skills. I will tell you one thing, once you begin to invest your life into another person, the rewards are more bountiful than any money you could ever earn. And if you are doing this just for money you will not have the right attitude and then all you will reap is frustration.

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