Thoughts on Self-Defense and Martial Arts
When people first explore martial arts, they have a lot of questions. These pages are dedicated to exploring those questions from a Martial Arts Instructor point of view and a Warrior Lifestyle.
I’m spoiled. I absolutely confess to it, especially when it comes to learning martial arts. I have trained under some of the best martial arts teachers in individual lessons. Yes, learning individually is often more expensive than learning in a group. But what are the advantages?
Before that question can be answered, let’s look at group training or even education itself. In the United States and beyond, since education became fully available to the masses, students learned in classrooms where a single teacher was responsible for educating everyone at the same time. But, as we often hear, the number of students to teachers is critical to the student’s success in learning because if there are too many the teacher “can’t give the attention that each individual student needs.”
Admittedly, most martial arts schools teach in groups. They either have group lessons based on the belt they are, the age of the students, or they throw everyone in the same class—having black and brown belts learning the same thing as the those brand new to the art. When this happens, either students advance with their class on a “pre-set schedule” or are left behind—not unlike grades or classes in public schools.
In group lessons, like that of public schools, the student can make multiple mistakes in understanding what they do before the teacher is able to correctly identify what the misunderstanding is and correct it. Sometimes, in education, the student will end up needing a tutor or “after class time: with the teacher to correct it. In the martial arts, the misunderstanding could take lead to getting hurt or failing to be able to defend themselves when it is critical.
On a less important level, group lessons can also be highly inconvenient. If the martial arts school breaks their classes into groups based either on age or on belt, they will only offer those classes on certain days and at fixed times. This requires the busy working adult or the over scheduled child to schedule any other events around that class schedule—which often can change as the student advances in rank and/or in age.
Yet, despite these issues, many martial arts training schools insist it is the best way to learn. I disagree. People are not cookie dough to be cut in pre-made forms with a cookie cutter. We each have different goals, different interests, different strengths, different weaknesses, and different needs. In a group, because of peer pressure or the fear of looking like a fool, a student may not ask questions that would help them to better understand a concept or how to do a technique because they don’t want to feel stupid. The failure to ask that question could put the student into a risky precarious position when the answer would have helped the most.
Those that teach in groups only do have one thing right, there is a tradition to learning in groups. In public and private education, we see and accept that process. In the marital arts, group education was most often used to train drafted farmers into foot soldiers for war. But, how did their leaders learn—the officers, the generals, the kings and emperors?
You guessed it! They learned privately! They had the attention from their teacher to ask any questions, fix any misunderstandings of what they were being taught, and train to be the best they can be. The student can grow at their speed, ask any question without fear of being thought stupid, and obtain a level of success that they want to achieve.
The best champions in any martial art sport (karate, judo, fencing, boxing, etc.) and other sports have personal trainers. In school, the brightest students have tutors even if they are not struggling with a subject. The training they receive sharpens their skills, knowledge, and understanding more rapidly than learning in a group.
A final advantage to learning individually is that you can work your training schedule around the modern busy lifestyle that we have—be it work, school, after work/school activities, or just life in general.
This blog is dedicated to helping people who are not in the martial arts community understand the training and find answers to the questions they may have before contacting a school. If you have questions about the martial arts, training in it, or what to look for, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If you are in the Greater St. Louis Area and looking for a great school to learn self-defense in, please check these schools out: