Continued from: “Teaching the Calasanz System – Part one: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”
Regardless of my students’ goals, I always like to give them some techniques they could use on the streets. My private training in Wing Chun was the reason why I have incorporated this philosophy into my system. I was not happy with the fact that some of my classmates had spent close to ten years training and had no street survival skills. Many Wing Chun students spent all this time throwing punches without a purpose or sense of how they would use it in real life. For instance, our Wing Chun classes emphasize bringing your elbow to the center, which helps your punch get very hard and learning how to get grounded. I was fortunate enough when I began my Goju Ryu training that my teachers promoted self-defense skills and I have passed these skills down to my students.
Schools that promote black belts too quickly or don’t teach self-defense often trouble me. What troubles me more is the aerobic kickboxing craze. Unfortunately, they give people a false sense of security in believing they’ll be able to defend themselves with a dance routine. Understand that organizations that certify personal trainers often offer short-term courses or clinics that will teach you how to teach kickboxing. This is an insult to all of us who have spent many years training in the martial arts and a scam on the public. In some cases, students who have taken the aerobic kickboxing classes have been injured because of inadequate teacher supervision. While I train students who only want to learn kickboxing for recreation, I always incorporate some realistic movements so they can walk away with something useful. No one leaves my school without at least some basic knowledge of street survival.
The Calasanz System is very simple. Simplicity combined with skill allows us to take the best a student has to offer and improve on it. An example is training women. Because my style of fighting was always unsuited for tournaments, I found that I had to send “messages” of my skill to those who challenged me because I was not a competitor. My favorite type of message was asking a female student to do kicking drills with an obnoxious male! While women’s upper body strength cannot compare to that of a man, women do have naturally strong legs. I take that ability in women and teach them how to capitalize on it. Some of the best messages given here at the school were by women who embarrassed arrogant men!
Teaching a diverse population requires a lot of patience and natural skill. You can train someone to be a teacher all you want. If they don’t have it inside of them, they will never be effective. In this business, you have to help not only the talented and coordinated, but also the uncoordinated, the slow learner and the student with a variety of challenges. It is also a challenge to teach those who are very intelligent. I had this one student who was very smart and had spent twelve years training in a well known martial arts school. I was training him in kickboxing and trying to teach him how to protect his head when fighting at close range. He told me “Calasanz, all I have to do is pick up my hands. This would cause his opponent to look up, and then I could kick him.” This guy with twelve years of experience just demonstrated the skill of a white belt. I recognized was why his instructor had a hard time with him. This guy thought he knew it all and didn’t need help or correction from anyone.
To be continued…
Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness
507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851