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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 1:29 am    Post subject: Timid beginners vs. overenthusiastic ones: which is better?         Reply with quote

This forum community ought to have a fair number of people who have some experience as martial arts teachers/instructors, and I'd like to pick their brains on one particular issue. If given two beginners near the opposite ends of the attitude scale, one being timid and the other brave to the point of being suicidal, which one would you rather prefer to teach and why? And which kind of starting attitude do you think is most likely to eventually produce an effective martial artist? I'm deliberately leaving a great deal of room for subjective opinion or interpretation here since I'm aware that there's probably no objective answer to the question. If you have no preference for either but would like to share tips or experience in dealing with either kind of attitude problem, that'd be fine too.
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David Lewis Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am pretty simple in my replays, sorry for the lack of in-depth thought (that and it is just after the first cup of coffee)

Either is okay be cause both can be trained and trained out of bad habits before they become habits. The reality of modern training is one has all the time in the world to train, I am not sending my 'students' out to face real weapons next spring. I also make them repeat the mantra, 'relax, have fun, don't be a jerk' (I use a different word than jerk)

I reminded the timid that people that turtle up get turned in to turtle soup and I emphasize that with proper safety and protective gear there chance of hurting their partners is very slim. I find the timid are usually more concerned with some one else getting hurt than they are

I remind the bold that this is not chopping wood or beating nails in, that being over aggressive u sally leads to them being face down kissing mother earth (Mother Earth french kisses so there is usually lots of spitting out grass afterwords)

Neither of those things happen day one or even day three, normally calm assertive mentoring takes care of of both mindsets.

would some one hand me another cup of coffee?

David L Smith
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R.M. Henson




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 4:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been a boxing coach for about 7 years and I've had my fair share of both and to be frank I don't like either lol.

On the timid end of the spectrum that I taught trained were usually not motivated to begin with or started boxing for the wrong reasons (parents forced them, or thought one of the boxers was cute, etc.). This is usually frustrating because the hardest part about training them is their lack of motivation, no goals, and little focus as their mind tends to wander when they get bored or too tired. They usually end up quitting early on.

The overzealous types come from many different backgrounds and motivations which is great, but unfortunately they are difficult to train as well. They usually want to walk before they run in terms of skill and technique. They often self train techniques improperly and ask a lot of "what if someone does this?" questions that can drive many trainers crazy.

In terms of how well they can be taught and trained the overzealous type would be my preference, at least they have the motivation and usually stick around long enough to be worth the effort.

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Tom King




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 4:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
"and let him have no rest and become no threat; and follow the art, thus fear not his strikes; and would he draw you into meetings of the blades, then counterstrike merrily."
-Hans Talhoffer


This is what the timid have the most trouble with when i teach them. They retreat rather than go into the bind; it lengthens the fight (as if that is preferable) but opens up their guard and leaves them vulnerable to thrusts. Timid practitioners, at least at the beginning, usually stay out of the proper fighting distance, leading to flailing fighting from the wrist with the tip as either both timid combatants try to stay as far away from each other as possible or as the more adventurous combatant chases after the timid one.
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David Lewis Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 4:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R.M. Henson wrote:
They often self train techniques improperly and ask a lot of "what if someone does this?" questions that can drive many trainers crazy.


You know, at this point I want to do the Linus VanPelt quot "ARRRrrraggggggg"! I hate those questions. as they usually involve some unlikely action either on the part of the opponent or the student. From the Students standpoint it is usually with the idea they they are 'bigger, faster, stronger' and able to move in a way that makes a Jet Lee scene look clumsy

David L Smith
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The timid may get " stage fright " and sort of brain freeze where they get overwhelmed by the instructions and get confused: Too self-conscious I guess. Wink

The bold, may forget that they are learning, and if they lose perspective start fighting for real, and forget that their training partners has to be respected and not injured by stupidity.

They also are not very good at understanding that in paired drills they are supposed to lose when it's their turn to help their training partner to learn the techniques if they can't put aside being competitive all the time.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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David Lewis Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
The timid may get " stage fright " and sort of brain freeze where they get overwhelmed by the instructions and get confused: Too self-conscious I guess. Wink

The bold, may forget that they are learning, and if they lose perspective start fighting for real, and forget that their training partners has to be respected and not injured by stupidity.

They also are not very good at understanding that in paired drills they are supposed to lose when it's their turn to help their training partner to learn the techniques if they can't put aside being competitive all the time.


I do something terrible with the timid: I give the a strike in free play, cry out "Ouch"! and when they drop their guard whop them to the side of their helm hard enough to catch their attention, not hard enough to stagger or hurt them.
Did that hurt?
No
Than why did you think you hurt me, keep your guard up

David L Smith
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Alen L




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have well-defined, simple exercises for beginners. No meisterhauen, no combination of over 2 simple strikes. Make sure they follow the exercise and do not get carried away and start doing something else. Make sure you give them exercises that are appropriate to their level.

That's about all of the advice I have for both types. The timid will want to move back, not get hit, and not hit the opponent; the overzealous will get carried away into doing other stuff, as R.M. Henson pointed out, and that can be a bad thing.

Cheers!
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The timid soon learn that the particular "'art" isn't for them. The 'over-enthusiastic' can be a danger..to themselves, or their partners. They tend to think they don't need all "this training and safety b*****it". If I HAD to chose..give me a timid one any day..they may wind up being a waste of the trainer's time..but that's a safer option all round in the end.
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P. Frank




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Admittedly my experience as a trainer is still rather limited, but given the choice between these two extremes I'd prefer the timid pupil. I'd simply rather have a student I have to encourage than one I constantly have to remind that he is training with partners, not victims. In my experience reluctant students are usually more afraid of hurting their partner than anything else and once you show them that, in a controlled environment, this is a risk that can be limited, they participate more eagerly.
In my time training in the martial arts I have seen some rather ugly accidents that mostly happened because someone was overzealous and/or careless.

Then again I'd say I'm rather the timid type myself, so that might be my problem right there Wink.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two bits of advice that I was told come to mind:

"Say sorry as many times as it takes..."
That is to say, you can apologise before, during, and after the sequence! But just remember that if you're not trying you're hindering your partners training.

"It's easier to train someone up, than to tear them down..."
This was in relation to boxing. The little person knows what it's like to be "weak" and their lack of experience means that everything you teach is new and interesting, building upon previous lessons after starting at square one. Those who are more bellicose might suffer from hubris. That being said, for some you just can't put the fight in the dog, it's either there or it isn't.

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The one that can afford his/her own equipment and show up for practice on time. Either extreme in attitude can be adjusted with appropriate instruction and encouragement.
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Dan P




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From my experience as a self defense instructor, I think its easier to teach aggressive people control and technique then to teach timid people how to be aggressive enough under pressure. I guess over the long run it averages out but honestly the point of that kind of thing was to try and get people up to some kind of minimally effective state in a limited number of time and classes.

Of course the irony of training is that the people who are the most motivated to train also tend to be less likely to be victimized in the first place. Some people are so unused to aggression they literally freeze up when you hand them a wooden knife or ask them to throw a strike at their practice partner even though they intellectually understand why they are in the class and how the drill is supposed to work, and that definitely takes a delicate bit of coaching.

The other kind of person is pretty easy to motivate if you can plant the idea that with a little control and practice they can be a much better fighter, because thats what they want in the first place. I've almost never had to resort to dumping someone on their back to get their attention.

So, free advice. Always keep an eye out during practice for people who've frozen up or acting recklessly, and get in there before anyone gets frustrated or hurt.
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Tim Harris
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are extremes of each type, of course, and those are the ones who probably won't "get it" unless you can spend the time to find the instructional angle to set them up for getting the necessary insight. Not so easy with big classes.

In general, positive coaching, building on what's good in what each type of student is doing, ought to work. In a smallish field like WMA, you'd hope students are there out of genuine interest.

That said, I'd probably give the edge to the timid student, as per Sam's post.
I was once overly cagey about inflicting injury in steel combat. The best piece of advice I ever got was "stop trying to hit me and just hit me". Mind you, it helped that the chap giving the advice was impervious to most blows.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2012 3:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe there are different kinds of " timidity ": You have the person who is shy, nervous and prone to stage fright who freezes when overwhelmed when they don't feel confident that they understood what to do and are also " perfectionists " who get very embarrassed or phobic about making mistakes.

A lot of this can go away with practice and is probably a very positive thing to acquire confidence by learning a martial art and also to learn to focus on actually hearing instructions and not freezing. ( Same thing with public speaking which is a very common phobia ).

When in freeze mode one becomes almost deaf and may have tunnel vision and feel very flustered ! I have felt this a few times in training, or for other things when much younger, but got over it. ( It takes a lot more to get me flustered now Wink )


Then there is the very scared person who irrationally fears being hurt or hurting someone in an exaggerated way often leading to also being very uncoordinated.

Finally, there is the person who is really a " Klutz " and lacks confidence due to some true lack of physical coordination.: The poor kid who could never catch the ball playing dodgeball and would turn his or her face away from the ball with eyes closed hoping to be out of the whole embarrassing game as soon as possible. Wink Oh, and the kid everybody in the other team would make a point of embarrassing or hitting as hard as possible ! ( Yeah, a lot of dodgeball PTSD out there .... only half joking, those things can scar you for life ! )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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R.M. Henson




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Dec, 2012 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is also a good point, thus I feel I must redefine how I answered previously.

What I had typed earlier as "timid" I had actually just pointed out the ones who lack motivation and interest. But as Jean pointed out, there is also the type that is simply being timid out of fear(regardless of motivation). In contact sports this is common and most people go through this stage as a matter of course.

This changes things of course as I don't have a preference over someone who is fearful and fearless as they are both inherently dangerous, however they produce different kinds of fighters. I have found fighters who are more afraid of being hit and act timidly end up being counter fighters and more evasive. The brave ones usually end up being aggressive and direct. The end goal of course is to teach them to have a mix of both depending on circumstances, but I find it's like musical tastes, they pick their style based on their initial reaction to early experiences.

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Craig Shackleton




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Dec, 2012 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I personally find it much easier to train a timid person to be more aggressive than to tone down an overzealous one. The process is also less painful (actual, physical, pain).

My starting point with timid people is to have them hit me as I stand in a guard. I most often find that timid people are not actually afraid of being hurt. They are afraid of hurting someone else. Showing them that they can do the technique in a controlled setting without hurting someone is a good confidence builder.

"Do an oberhau and stab me in the face. I'm wearing a mask."
"Good, now do it again, but actually make contact with my mask, don't stop short."
"Good, now do it again, but don't stop short and then touch. Hit me with the strike."
"Good, now do it again, but hit me harder."
"Good. You could still hit me harder safely, but you don't need to. Finish every technique with a hit like that."

That's usually the most difficult lesson for a timid person. I rarely if ever have to repeat that lesson, and it makes the following ones easier.

On the other hand, the problem with overly brave people is usually that they are not worried that they might hurt someone else. They often don't mind being hurt, which gives them less empathy or concern for hurting others, and makes it harder to demonstrate to them why they should be concerned. Often it takes causing them pain on a level they are not comfortable with to give them that empathy. This is risky to both participants. The alternative is to give them an external deterrent, which is challenging, and requires individual tailoring.

Also, confidence builds with experience. A timid person will become more and more confident, which is what they need, but will seldom lose their empathy. An overly brave person needs to have some of their confidence checked, but it will usually return, and then need to be checked again, but now the person is better at fighting, thus harder to deter.

While I don't think many people who have fought with me would call me "timid," I will admit that I am cautious by nature, and probably have a better understanding of how to deal with timid people. I imagine someone who has come from the other end of the spectrum themselves would have a better ability to deal with overly aggressive/brave students.

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Mike O'Hara




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Dec, 2012 10:21 am    Post subject: Timid and aggressive         Reply with quote

It's worth thinking about what happens when you get newbies who are both timid and aggressive together.

The instructors are normally skilled (and smart) enough not to further intimidate the already nervous, but the aggressive newcomers not so much. Most will swing their swords quite hard and will scare the proverbial out of the 'timid'. it's usually best to partner like with like until some base level of skill and confidence is gained

Something I have tended to find is that the 'timid' who as Jean better describes as cautious or often who are reflective thinkers become much better martial artists later on. They have to analyse , interpret and really understand. They are also mor often the 'stayers'.

cheers
mike

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Quinn W.




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Dec, 2012 8:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Shackleton wrote:
I most often find that timid people are not actually afraid of being hurt. They are afraid of hurting someone else.

I think this is a great clarification.
All of my martial arts experience has taught me that this is the most common type of 'timid.' There are occasionally people who are afraid of being hit, but I generally find that those sorts of people tend not to join any type of martial art in the first place, or tend to drop out after the first class. Obviously it can still happen, but I think "timid" types are usually more empathetic than skittish.

"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Dec, 2012 1:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In both cases learning control is primordial. It gives confidence to the timids, as they'll learn that they can control their weapon well enough to not hurt themselves or their partner, and it will make the enthusiastics less dangerous...

Regards,

--
Vincent
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