Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

January 1st 2012

From Kyoshi Kaplan, Shihan, Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Family Club

State College, PA

Karate Instructor as “Sage on the Stage” or “Guide on the Side”

Lecture is one of the oldest forms of education there is. However, as education researchers are pointing out, there are limits to the effectiveness of straight lecture as a teaching technique. Whereas lecture is a great way to present factual information, it helps to supplement lecture with teaching methods that more actively engage learners in conversation and reflection, particularly when the goal is to help students gain a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts being taught and how they might apply these concepts to their lives.

Here are several examples of ways instructors can provide students with opportunities to be active and engaged learners that are in keeping with our karate traditions:

* Asking students to “explore” applications of techniques during bunkai training.

* Facilitating conversations about karate technique and philosophy at the end of class (formally) and after class (informally).

* Providing students with opportunities to share their karate-related knowledge and perspective in writing (as we do by including a “what karate means to me” paragraph as one of the karate test requirements) and at special events, such as holiday celebrations at which students share their thoughts via brief celebratory toasts.

* Conducting special seminars (e.g., on self defense) at which participants are asked to share their views and concerns on the topics at hand.

These teaching strategies encourage students to take greater responsibility for their training and learning. They also generate additional, spontaneous learning opportunities for the entire group. For example, we all learned much when Michael Hanold – a 12-year old San-kyu (Brown-tips) student – shared his insightful way of viewing the challenge of karate training during his compai toast at our December 18, 2011 holiday party:

“Karate is like a puzzle. Even though we keep working on it, there are still unfinished parts, but we get closer to completing the puzzle every day.”

In conclusion, the Karate Instructor is both, “Sage on the Stage” AND “Guide on the Side.”

Although our techniques and kata don’t change over time, we have a large arsenal of teaching techniques at our disposal.

Kyoshi Kaplan, Shihan

Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Family Club

State College, PA