At the few dojo where I am a regular attendee, I enjoy teaching people whom I know. Each of us tend to learn in different ways, so knowing their learning style and motivation it becomes easier to transmit information in a way that appeals to them. When I teach at seminars, often in different countries, it is more of a challenge. Trying to motivate people whom you hardly know is not an easy job.
The fact that they come to seminars is an indication that they want to improve and build on their kendo. I point this out because there are many kenshi who have reached a level that they are happy with and who see kendo training as a way to enjoy exercise and fellowship, not a lifelong quest for self-improvement. Those that come to these events, come to learn, but we each have our preferred way of absorbing information.
There are people who respond to criticism and others who get the most from encouragement. Some appreciate the traditional approach of watching a technique demonstrated then being given the chance to try it themselves, others like to understand the reason behind the technique and contemplate how and when to deploy it. There are some who need to break each action down to its smallest part and then build the technique from the components and a lucky few who have the ability to see something once and then do it in its entirety.
Over the weekend I was teaching at a seminar in Brussels and all seemed to be going well. I noticed one individual who was concentrating hard and producing some good men attacks. With kote however he tended to tense up and almost crouch as he hit. I jokingly tried to give him a shoulder massage which was received with a degree of indignation.
Further into the our training, I decided to point out what he was doing and had a quite word without bringing it to everyone’s attention. I was told that I was mistaken and that he was perfectly happy with the way things were going, so I decided to keep my unwanted advice to myself.
We finished the day with mawari geiko. When we met I decided to take advantage of his crouch into kote and every time this happened I hit his men. At the end of the session he came over to bow and thanked me profusely for correcting his kote. As they say everyone is different.