Last week I attended a management course on coaching skills, arranged by my employer. As ever my first thought was the same as when I come across anything new - 'how can I apply this to my wing chun, if I can't why should I be interested?'
The course separated out the various aspects of teaching into their constituent parts:
1. Training/teaching - imparting new knowledge and skills to complete a task.
2. Mentoring - Demonstrating and acting as a role model and guide.
3. Coaching - Helping an individual who already has most of the requisite knowledge and skills how to understand how to apply them.
This idea did interest me as these are real issues in teaching our wing chun method. I have seen instructors before who endlessly tell and show a student the same things ad infinitum as if they were stupid. They are locked in the teaching mode without the ability to understand that that method of instruction is very limited;the key is helping a student figure out for themselves what the movements mean.
The majority of our students have wing chun experience. Therefore the 'teaching' of the wing chun movements for us should be relatively easy. However, understanding how the body internalises those movements and where the power comes from, has to come from an individual's own introspection and that is where coaching plays a key role. This comes back to one of my earlier blogs about wing chun not being amenable to large mcdojo enterprises as it is best passed on one to one, helping the student understand and clarify what they already really know.
A coach does not actually have to know much about the actual area being studied. During the course I was reminded of a book both Jon and I used to talk about, The Inner Game of Tennis by W Timothy Gallwey. Although I am not so interested in tennis, the book opened my eyes to learning. Here is a quote from the intro:
Every game is composed of an outer and inner game. The outer game is played against an external opponent to overcome external obstacles, and to reach an external goal. Mastering this game is the subject of many books offering instructions on how to swing a racket, club or bat, and how to position arms, legs or torso to achieve the best results. But for some reason most of us find these instructions easier to remember than to execute.
It is the thesis of this book that neither mastery nor satisfaction can be found in the playing of any game without giving some attention to the relatively neglected skills of the inner game. This is the game that takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. In short, it is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance.
We often wonder why we play so well one day and so poorly the best, or why we clutch during competition, or blow easy shots. And why does it take so long to break a bad habit and learn a new one? Victories in the inner game may provide no additions to the trophy case, but they bring valuable rewards which are more permanent and which can contribute significantly to one’s success, off the court as well as on.
The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills...
What is in a title? To address an instructor in Chinese martial arts we use the term Sifu meaning martial father (martial as in martial arts). To be honest I already have two daughters and am not looking for anymore parental responsibilities. If I am doing my job well I want to be a teacher, coach, mentor and friend and to understand when each role is appropriate for a student's development. Best just call me Dan, keep it simple.
Keeping you up to date with what is happening in class