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Thread: Instructor Etiquette

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    vatki001 is offline
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    Exclamation Instructor Etiquette

    I have noted in perusing this great site there are some very respected and experienced kenpo instructors. The question I would like to put forwared is centered on my limited experience with my instructor.

    First, allow me to say I believe my instructor has the knowledge and the proper understanding of the message that needs to be conveyed about Karate (only to protect-not to hurt) and the basics are taught with due -diligence.

    However, he has a style(teaching) that uses a great deal of humor that sometimes is very course (racy) and he seems not to get that. Secondly, he has allowed his flirtation with a female student to go over board to the point where he wrestles with her in the dojo while classes are going on.

    Some people can compartmentalize and he does a great job at that. However, most-if not all of his students in the adult class are not in agreement with these antics.

    So the question then is what would be the best etiquette to use as an instructor in teaching a class?
    V. Atkins

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by vatki001 View Post
    However, he has a style(teaching) that uses a great deal of humor that sometimes is very course (racy) and he seems not to get that.
    This wouldn't bother me, not all instructors teach from a strict protocol, "yes sir, no ma'am" approach. I can't tell you the number of senior instructors I've heard use "racy" analogies, and it just seems to get worse in the weapon arts.

    Secondly, he has allowed his flirtation with a female student to go over board to the point where he wrestles with her in the dojo while classes are going on.
    This would bug me, probably not enough to drive me away from the class (assuming he is a good instructor), but it would be irritating. If he wants to get his jollies, do it sometime when I'm not paying him to train me.

    So the question then is what would be the best etiquette to use as an instructor in teaching a class?
    It depends (don't you just hate that answer?) Racy language is obviously not appropriate in a children/young adult scene, but may be perfectly fine when training a bunch of adults. In general I try to be professional in my teaching voice and manner, but I will often use humor. It really depends on your audience.

    Lamont
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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    I agree that adults can handle racy comments, however, maybe my image of a martial arts instructor has always been one of professionalism.
    V. Atkins

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by vatki001 View Post
    I agree that adults can handle racy comments, however, maybe my image of a martial arts instructor has always been one of professionalism.
    I'm of two minds on this one. I like the idea of instructors being held to a higher standard. At the same time, it's "just" a karate instructor we're talking about...not a pastor, doctor, congressman or other elected official, etc. And I tend to think too much emphasis in our society gets placed on being "appropriate" over being "genuine".

    I would prefer to get to know the person, over the professional facade. Like I said; it's only karate.
    Clear mind, clear movement. Mastery of the Arts is mastery over the Self. That in this moment, this motion, the thoughts, memories, impulses and passions that cloud the mind must yield to the clarity of purpose, and purity of motion.

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Great point. I am getting the impression its all about the ART and not the person behind it. If this is what you are saying. Than all we have to be sure of is as long as the instructor is teachng the right way. Correct?
    V. Atkins

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    Thumbs up Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by vatki001 View Post
    Great point. I am getting the impression its all about the ART and not the person behind it. If this is what you are saying. Than all we have to be sure of is as long as the instructor is teachng the right way. Correct?
    I had a Filipino instructor who would teach and train with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. It didn't bother me really because what he taught was great. he also knew his stuff and conveyed his art very well. It wasn't about how "professional" he presented himself to me, but more a what can he do? Type of scenerio. He was kind and nice to me, so the other things didn't bug me at all.
    www.hunterskarate.com

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    My last instructor used to chew gum and would often teach my private lessons in whatever he was wearing when he walked in.

    I don't like it. I took the time and effort to show up and dress in my uniform, I expect my instructor to do the same, unless it was mutually-agreed upon not to.

    I've seen others who swear repeatedly on the mat and say that their student's stances are 'bullsh*t". I don't like that either.


    Occasional comments that are a little racy are okay, as long as they are at least subtle. As opposed to 'Nice Rack!" or something equally crude.

    I personally have no problem with humor, as long as it's not distracting.

    I would be more than a little annoyed if my instructor were smoking during my lesson.

    --Amy
    Last edited by amylong; 08-12-2007 at 01:15 AM.
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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Ok, I have real problems with most of this except humor.Even Humor has limits, and what may be funny to one,may as well be an insult to another.

    I do expect the person who is conducting class to be a professional,and conduct themselves as such.

    Anything that is a source of distraction to my training and to those I train with should be addresed. Otherwise it will fester.

    People are not perfect, and I dont ask them to be that way. However,Doc once said that we are products of our instructors. Sourround yourself with good people.

    There are some great martial artist out there,but I will not train with or under someone with whom I can not respect on a personal level,I dont care how good their material is.
    Brad Marshall SP
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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    The part that would bother me is when he starts to grabass with a female student during class. Inapropriate, distracting, and he's not doing his job. When class is in session, that class, with VERY few exceptions, should be the instructors sole focus. Her, uh, "rack" can wait 'till later. Anatomy is best taught in private lessons.

    Dan C
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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by vatki001 View Post
    However, he has a style(teaching) that uses a great deal of humor that sometimes is very course (racy) and he seems not to get that. Secondly, he has allowed his flirtation with a female student to go over board to the point where he wrestles with her in the dojo while classes are going on.
    That is totally unacceptable.

    I could care less if someone has loads of skill; if he doesn't conduct himself in an ethically appropriate way in front of his students, and therefore exhibits poor leadership skills, he shouldn't be instructing.
    I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
    (Phillipians 4:13)


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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Blindside put it very closely to the way I feel about it.

    Humor is fine as long as it's not offensive to anyone. It helps produce a relaxed atmosphere that, IMO makes for a better learning environment. I've heard from seniors and also read that SGM Parker was quite a joker.

    The "rolling around" part is inappropriate. He may not realize that this is the way it's being viewed by some of the other students. Instructors, like any teacher, will sometimes have a favorite. However, it is their responsibility to keep "equality" top of mind.

    By that I mean equal time and effort with each student. If the class is not centered on grappling and no other students are practicing it, then he should not be rolling around with this female student.

    Have you voiced this concern to your instructor? IF done in the proper manner, it could be enlightening to them.
    "It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." – Charles A. Beard

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    I am new to the martial arts and pretty much did not know what is/was acceptable conduct. Now that i have an idea i am leaning with balance in conduct and in teaching. maybe i have to accept somethings i will not like
    in order to learn a great art. No, i have not discussed this with him. I believe sometimes where we should fathom that learning is a lifetime process when we achieve such a huge step like Black Belt in Kenpo or any art we sometimes become unapproachable or arrogant. Where we should be humble. Maybe that is the real difference betweens us americans and our ASIAN counterparts. I am not sure. Maybe i have watched to many Karate Kid movies. LOL
    V. Atkins

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    The higer the rank, the more aproachable and humble that person should be. Again I say souround yourself with good people. What do you think will happen when/if that student and instructor dont see Eye to Eye anymore?

    You have been taught a very important lesson here. What not to teach your students.
    Brad Marshall SP
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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by vatki001 View Post
    Great point. I am getting the impression its all about the ART and not the person behind it. If this is what you are saying. Than all we have to be sure of is as long as the instructor is teachng the right way. Correct?

    Wrong !!!!

    People and associations will let you down,the art will not. However if you are associating with someone of poor character,then by default people will view you as a person of low character as well. Regardless of the type of person you are.
    Brad Marshall SP
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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Thank you all for your advice. I believe it will be best to find someone who is more professional and more focused on teaching then laughing for 20 minutes out of an hour. Martial arts is a serious endeaver and should be taught from that perspective. Humor is important when it focuses on
    the techs, etc.. but not on the person. I thank to many instructors believe that they have to entertain verses just teach. I personally would rather teach those who are dead serious about the art and let the money take care of itself. Only my limited view. I would like to thank all of you for your honest takes.
    V. Atkins

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Arggh! All the good answers are taken already-

    I use Humor quite a bit since our system can be "hard-core" but I keep it as professional as possible. I ALWAYS wear a full gi, always! but if I came in for a private lesson and my instructor was wearing street clothes it would not bother me...Clothing is not going to make a difference in the transfer of knowledge.

    The female wrestling thing is VERY uncalled for- not necessary, basically an abuse of power so to speak. We have "excused" instructors from kara-Ho kempo for things like this.

    I am not a fan of 2nd hand smoke but if I was having a lesson (not on a regular basis though) with a master who was smoking outside during the lesson or something, I am not going to say anything. Driving behind our local transit buses is far more dangerous

    IMHO- Personal character and integrity are #1 in martial arts. if I do not respect you, I am certainly not going to train with you for any period of time (Marshall kenpo said this pretty much I think)

    Cheers!

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    james
    Last edited by Dianhsuhe; 08-12-2007 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Myriad of grammatical errors-
    The above is just my opinion.

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    I'm pretty new to the martial arts as well. But I'm a 6th grade teacher, and I have coached many baseball and football teams in the past. The job of the teacher, coach, or in this case instructor is the same. Teach, coach, and instruct are all pretty much interchangeable in context. Teaching material (or coaching or instructing) is not as effective when the students are distracted. It is the job of the teacher in the classroom, the coach on the field, and the instructor in the dojo to eliminate as many distractions as possible so learning from the students can reach an optimal level. If the teacher is doing something is legitimately distracting and is a behavior that can change, the behavior should change.

    What I'm saying is, if there are a bulk of students who are distracted about these issues when the process of learning is suppose to be taking place, which includes whispers while in a technique line or even doing daily warm-ups, then it unprofessional. Whether it's flirting with a girl or humor gone bad, the instructor has not fulfilled his obligations as a teacher by eliminating the distractions he has control over. The instructor is just as responsible for the environment of the class as he his the curriculum of the class.

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    One suggestion...

    Before you leave his dojo and find another instructor, TALK TO HIM.

    What do you lose by going to him before you leave, tell him honestly and up front what you feel about what he's doing, and give him the chance to correct what he's doing?

    He might just need a "boot to the pants" to wake him up. I'd suggest that you POLITELY and RESPECTFULLY approach him, and explain to him that his 'racey jokes' bother you and take away from the focus of the class. And tell him that his flirtation with the female student as well as his 'wrestling with her' in front of everyone during class really seems inapporpriate and you feel like it detracts from the whole class. If you've got some friends among your class mates, see if any of them feel the same way. Tell him that you enjoy what he's teaching, but what he's DOING is really detracting from it.

    If he gets angry or refuses to admit his behavior is inappropriate...then walk out and leave as you're already considering.

    If he changes, keep an eye for a while and see if the atmosphere remains better...and stay and continue to learn.

    The bottom line is that you're there to learn, and if his actions and behavior are getting in the way of that by making you uncomfortable, you should say so. If he doesn't change, take your money and time elsewhere to where you CAN learn what you seek.

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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    We have a grappling class and for the studetns that come to it, they get to train in ground fighting. Sometimes in regular class some grappling happens when one of those students is in class.

    One of those students is a pretty blonde woman.

    I suppose if someone didn't know that she was in the grappling program it might seem strange that the teacher was rolling around on the floor with her...

    So your teracher and the woman at your school may just be training in some technciques that you don't work on yet. Which is why the best advice in the thread so far has been : talk to him.

    -D
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    Default Re: Instructor Etiquette

    Respect gains respect... if you expect people to listen to you and follow what you are giving them, then you have to show respect... for your art, for the class, for the people in the class, etc. I'm a firm believer that all teachers (karate teachers included) have the dubious distinction of also being life coaches. And people can see the type of person you are, by the fruits that you produce (your students), because more than likely your students will do what you teach them.

    Everyone loves a good joke, and I believe humor and fun should be there, but if there is joking all the time, when do we get serious? How can you tell me to condition and build my body if I'm forced to breathe your cigarette smoke? How do I learn to effectively talk my way out of altercations if you are swearing all the time? How can I follow your example of protecting and respecting others if you are dry humping on one of the other students? Even if I could tolerate all these acts (which I probably could except for the smoking and dry humping), you can bet that my son wouldn't be attending a school like that.

    I have to agree that the best advice is to talk to the man, voice your opinion, let it be heard that these things make you feel uncomfortable. DON'T DO THIS IN CLASS!!! Do it privately, away from the main class, so that you aren't seen as trying to front him. However, if there are a few of you that feel this same way, then approach him together... that way he'll see that it's not just you that feels this way.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY, do it respectfully... as I said, respect gains respect. Make it a point not to just tell him that he's a bad teacher, but rather to express how his teaching style makes you and your classmates feel. Make sure he knows that you enjoy learning the art from him, and feel that your training will be more beneficial if these other distractions weren't happening. After you tell him that, he can only respond in one of three ways to you... understanding, ignorant, or asinine. If it's not understanding, then calmly exit your contract when you can and move elsewhere.
    "Your kung fu's no good..."
    *Warrior, Scholar*

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