Instructor’s Notebook (INB) #27: Nine Points on Assisting a Martial Class

Congratulations and Felicitations. You’ve become an assistant instructor! Big things coming; but right now all you’ve done is stand in the back of the studio making stunted jerks and twitches. Well, you would like to help. Start with what the instructor has deemed useful behavior. But, in anticipation of the day when you and he or she share telepathic grokicity, here are ways you may lend a hand.

Assistance in Kung Fu class1. One of the simplest jobs is to keep order in class, students lined up and latecomers directed to the right place in line. It may feel like you are an usher but this is a great relief for the instructor.

2. As you walk through the class, you may present yourself as a target, allowing students to get a true idea of aiming at a specific place in the body or executing from a particular direction.

3. If the class has a practice-theme such as proper kicking posture; it’s often good to remind the students of the point of the exercise. It will surprise you to find out how easily people drift away from the focus of practice.

4. Sometimes students just have to be removed from their place in the class. If they are new, they often won’t be able to catch up to the reps, and they become frustrated. Occasionally the best thing to do is just to take the student aside and make the corrections in the back in the class.

Assistance in Kung Fu class5. There are little corrections that can be done periodically and quickly. It’s important for you to know which problems are the most common and the ones that will require the most repetition. For instance, Kung Fu students often tighten their shoulders. It’s easy to remind them, gently but often, to relax and droop. It doesn’t need an explanation and can be conveyed in an instant.

6. Yes, the teacher up front is a veteran with a ton of knowledge, but one of the best things you can do is to share some personal experience or tip with a lower student. Maybe you have a little trick to improve a hand combination or something of that nature. Sharing is encouraged in the marital arts if it is appropriate to that class level.

7. Once in a while, assistant instructors do the duty of crossing guards. You should try to keep your eye open for possible accidents or collisions. They do occur. It’s a great help to the teacher to keep people from crossing each other’s line of fire, especially by accident.

Assistance in Kung Fu class8. Some jobs, though they seem mundane, help save valuable time. You have got 20 people with their left legs forward and left hands leading, then there is one person with a left lead and her right leg forward, struggling to figure out where she went wrong. Keeping order on the floor is not as difficult as herding cats, but it can require some attention.

9. A good assistant is a valuable addition to the class. Often students are more willing to express confusion and frustration to a helper than to the head instructor. Get a true reaction on which moves are the most difficult, which points are most easily lost, and which techniques seem the most complex; this is helpful to the instructor and, as you will see, will give you insight you might never have thought of yourself.

By helping others you will, without a doubt, improve your skills.

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