Continued from: “Training Students from other Systems Part One: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”
In another case, a guy who was a third degree black belt visited me and enrolled in one of our Street Survivor classes. I paired him up with a 16 year old who had been training with us for only one month. I had them do some practical drills and the 16 year old got the best of him. He kicked him in the shin and dropped him to the ground. He got up from the floor and started crying when I told him that the kid who just knocked him down had only been training for one month!
Another problem with training students from other systems is that some lack the basics. There are many good martial art schools out there. The way I can tell if someone has had a good teacher is to look at their basics. Do they have a strong foundation? Can they throw a punch? Can they throw a kick without losing their balance? Are their stances strong and grounded? Some students from other systems know a lot of techniques, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know their basics. It is just a house built on a very shaky foundation. I had one woman come to my school who failed to mention that she had a black belt from another school. She told another one of my students of her rank, who later told me. I thought training her would be easy. Wrong. I gave her three techniques and asked her to put them into a sequence. Start in a front stance, switch to a horse stance and then switch back into a front stance. It took me 10 minutes to get her to do this right. It should have taken a well-trained black belt 3 seconds to do this properly.
Some experienced students started training in a style that was not particularly suited for them. For example, I have had some students over 40 who started training in a style that emphasized a lot of high kicking and jumping. Other styles demand low stances or too much snapping when kicking. It is no wonder that they come to me frustrated and feeling that maybe martial arts is not for them, even though they really enjoyed it. Any style can be practiced by anyone. It is up to the instructor to tailor the system to fit the student. Unfortunately, many schools have a “one size fits all” approach. This means that you have to keep up with the class with little or no special attention. I like to tailor the techniques to the particular student.
One woman enrolled in my school after 10 years of training in another system. She lacked confidence, could not fight and wasn’t very street smart. I personally trained her for 3 months and saw her confidence and skills improve dramatically. After the 3-month period, she decided to take the group class. I paired her up with another woman who was fairly new and had not had any martial arts training. This bothered her. I was hoping that by putting her with someone new, it would remind her how far she had come in her training. When she first started, she could not block a shin kick without experiencing pain in her leg. I told her that this would soon change and it did. Experienced martial artists who come to train with me are very often asked to assist with lower ranked students once we have taught them the basics of the system. Because there are students with different ranks, everyone learns from someone else. I also expected someone who had trained in martial arts for over 10 years to understand the importance of learning how to teach and assisting lower ranks. She could not see this. All she saw was that we put her to train with someone who was not as good as she was and this upset her. She had a lot to offer and the higher ranks had much to offer her. This is one of the ways we help students improve their skills. Unfortunately, she couldn’t understand it not matter how much we explained it.
This brings me to the case of a student who came to me after he had been hired by the sheriff’s department. He was having a problem dealing at job in controlling the people he was either arresting or transporting. He had taken martial arts classes for a long time and even though he was a good kicker, he had no concept of the streets. He asked his instructor for help and his response was “you’re smart enough to put it together.” So he came to me. I worked with him for 2 weeks. He had a lot to offer, he just needed someone to help him translate it into something practical. His teacher was not willing, but I was. After the 2 weeks, he never had a problem again. This man went on to become a police officer and trains with us to this day and has referred countless numbers of law enforcement officers to this school.
To be continued…
Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness
507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851