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You are Coaching Humans, not Cyborgs.





I want to start by asking you a question.


How do you want your students to change as a result of their interactions with you and your karate school?

Keep that in mind as we get to the cyborg thing.


The other day, being the alert mom of two teen daughters that I am, I asked my thirteen year old what the book with the picture of a red stiletto on the cover was about. “It’s about cyborgs.” I asked the next logical question, “What is a cyborg?” And she responded, “Someone that is part human and part robot.”


I try to remind myself some version of this in every class I teach- that people are people- not cyborgs. You and I can't perform a new karate combination or any new physical skill with perfect balance, muscle coordination and breathing just because someone tells us to, I'm not a robot and neither are your students. With all the variations in body composition, coordination, balance, not to mention the different learning styles whether it be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, teaching can be challenging!


The burden is on us, the coaches, to adapt our teaching to students’ learning styles and physical abilities. Humans are complicated- everyone has physical and mental limitations. Our need to get someone to understand and learn should be greater than our own comfort.


During this tournament season , some of you may be preparing your students for competition like we are. If so, you are teaching in a very specific format. You know what technique will earn a full point in a kumite match, so that is what you train and teach. You are teaching for tournament prep as you should be.


"The burden is on us, the Sensei, to be a model of integrity and character and to help improve the character and lives of the students. "

But what about the students that aren’t competing? How are they treated and taught? The kid that gets teased and mistreated because he is small for his age is in desperate need of your self defense knowledge. He wants to be able to put on his anti-bully armor as he navigates his crowded middle school hallways.


I slowly evolved my thinking of training and teaching after attending a seminar several years ago with Sensei Shumoji, 5th Dan, of Jinsedo Karate in Atlanta, GA. Sensei Shumoji talked to us about treating each student differently based on their needs. He believes that teaching can be so much more rewarding when we meet our students where they are rather than impose our knowledge and will on them. The burden is on us, the Sensei, to be a model of integrity and character and to help improve the character and lives of the students.


Sensei Bobby Hall coaching his students during a tournament



I hope that your Sensei has a strong character and is giving of their time, humble, motivating, and sincere. If not, YOU can become that person for your students. At our school, one of our core values is investing in the whole student. We'd rather have awesome little or big humans who are fulfilled in their lives than a bunch of black belts that are not happy in life. Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section. I am passionate about learning and growing as a karate coach- so let's help each other!


-Carolyn