Are you listening?

Today we continue our discussion about the different learning types. So far we talked about 3 basic types of learners and went into some detail about visual learners. We’ll continue and this time explore…

AUDITORY LEARNERS

So are you listening? Yes, you right there who is not looking at me when I’m speaking to you…

You can tell an auditory learner almost immediately particularly in a group situation. Your visual learners will be looking at you and seemingly paying attention, while their minds are wandering. But your auditory learner might be visually zoning out, looking at nothing in particular and might have their head turned with one ear toward you.

That’s your auditory learner right there… he’s listening to every single word you say, while at the same time looking at his feet or scratching the back of his neck. I encounter this a lot in class, particularly with kids who haven’t been taught to “look at someone when they’re talking to you” (which by the way is counter-intuitive for an auditory learner who might generally prefer to turn to hear you).

Auditory learners also like to hear themselves speak… they can’t keep quiet for long, but they like to listen to learn and follow verbal directions well.

Which way are his
eyes pointing?

A quick test for an auditory learner is to watch their eye movements when asked a question about a place or time they remember. You’ll recall visual people will generally look up to their left for remembering images, and up to their right when constructing them. Auditory learners tend to look either horizontally to their left (remembering sound) or to their right (constructing sound).

Ever had a someone play guitar just for you? They kind of give you this creepy zoned out look where you’re not sure where they’re focusing their gaze, but it’s really them listening and thinking as they play.

Auditory people also use words like “I hear what you’re saying”, “Let me explain it again for you” and “Listen to that!”.

So this is all great and fascinating stuff, but how the heck do you teach those guys when you’ve shown them 5 times already Mr. Visual karate instructor??

Easy!

Just use your voice! 

BE LOUD! 

Give clear verbal instruction.

And have your students repeat back to you or someone else, what you just explained


Try this with your students…

A little exercise I do sometimes in class is to teach a technique visually and verbally, and then have students pair up and take turns teaching it to each other. You’ll notice your visual learners will just show the technique and your auditory learners will break it down, step by step with explanation.

So that brings us to the conclusion of our brief discussion on auditory learners. Who’s up next??

Hmmm…well let’s just say you’ll have to experience it to understand all about those crazy kinesthetic learners…

Until next time.

Jason

Sparring exercise for all ages

So for the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about the different types of learners and how to reach them so everyone in your class benefits…

But today I want to take a break from that stuff and share with you a quick sparring exercise that I did last night with my students.

In traditional karate kumite, the first to score earns the point, and this exercise below helps develop timing, reaction and commitment to attacking technique.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Students gear up and grab a partner for sparring.
  2. Students begin sparring with each other as per usual and both may attack, defend and do whatever they usually do when sparring.
  3. Several times during the round, your job as their instructor/coach is to shout “kiai!”, at which time students must immediately slide in and make reverse punch (gyaku zuki) regardless of what they might be doing at that time. They might be half way through an attacking combo, not doing anything, or might be defending an attack already in motion.
  4. The objective is for each student is to score the gyaku zuki before their training partner does the same.

This is a great karate drill because it forces students to modify their attacking combo; counter attack at a time they might not have been thinking about it; and if doing nothing at the time of your command it makes them change their timing and forces them to attack.

Remember in tournament point fighting, timing is critical. There might only be a split second between you hitting your opponent and your opponent hitting you, but that is the difference between scoring a point and being scored upon.

The sharpest, fastest, and competitor with the best timing earns the point. This exercise helps your students become that person. And the great thing is that you can do this exercise with students of any age, kids through adult.

Try it in class and let me know how it works for you (post your comments please).

Enjoy!

~ Jason

P.S. You know I’ve got hundreds of drills for all kinds of stuff right? From sparring to kata, self defense to fitness… it’s all in my 125 Dynamite Drills. It’ll help you freshen up your classes, sharpen up your students and give you more ideas than you can imagine. Go here to learn more

Teaching Karate to Visual Learners

Ok, so last week we talked a little bit about how what we see as instructors might be completely different to what our students see.

And we came to the conclusion that until we can communicate effectively to everyone in our class, there are going to be students who, “just don’t get it!” when really it’s our responsibility as martial arts teachers to make sure they do “get it”.

Often students are labelled as talented, smart, intelligent, dumb, stupid, slow, A.D.D, etc. which much of the time may not be true. What might be more accurate is those students labelled as “intelligent” might be the ones aligned with our individual way of teaching… on the same wavelength so to speak.

And those who are sometimes labelled “A.D.D” may certainly be very intelligent, but process information differently to you or me – simply be tuned to a different wavelength.

KEY POINT: Just because we’re listening to different radio stations doesn’t make a student more or less intelligent.

So how do you teach so everyone learns?

If you have the opportunity to work individually with a student there are certain ways to determine if they are VISUAL, AUDITORY or KINESTHETIC in their approach to learning.

Today I’ll give you a brief overview of visual learners since this group makes up 65% of the population.

VISUAL LEARNERS

It’s possible to figure out which group a person predominantly fits into based on a few simple tests. One test is to watch the EYE movements of your student when asked a question.

For example, 90% of people who tend to visualize things will look up towards their left when questioned about a past event. The same people will look up towards the right when visualizing something that is yet to happen, or when they are accessing the part of the brain involved in imagination.
 
Visual people also tend to use descriptive words like “I see”, “watch this”, and “look at that!”. Visual people also speak very quickly as their mouths attempt to keep up with the images they see in their minds.

Visual learners learn well by watching, looking at a diagram or drawing a picture. In essence, they must “see it” to learn it.

Since the majority of your class will be predominantly visual in their approach to learning, it’s the most important standpoint to be able to teach from (in terms of reaching the most people).

When your visual students learn karate they will learn best when you demonstrate things. They don’t need a 10 minute explanation on how to form their stance for optimal power, or how far to pull back their hikite. Nor do they need to be asked, “Well how do you think you should stand to be strongest?”

Visual learners learn by SEEING.

In other words, just show them! 

Demonstrate the technique and have them repeat it. Make corrections by SHOWING them again, and have them repeat it again.

Try to avoid getting frustrated with thoughts and questions like “How many times do I have to show you?” and “Why can’t you just LISTEN to me and do it?!”

Remember they don’t learn by listening, they learn by watching.

Also be sure to draw diagrams using different colors to get your point across, or ask your visual learners to close their eyes and imagine how to do the technique before performing it. You can also give them specific things to work on visually. For example… if your visual student is failing to bend their front knee, have them stop, close their eyes and imagine what their stance should look like. Then have them show you.

These are just some methods I use when teaching visual learners. There are more. But for now these ideas should get you pointed in the right direction.

In part 3 of this article series, we’ll tackle are the auditory learners…

(These guys are so frustrating! I just don’t get why they can’t do it when I’ve shown them 5 times already!)

Stay tuned.

Why can’t they just do it right?

Have you ever asked a student to correct their karate technique, say to “bend their front knee“, at which time they acknowledge your request but continue to leave it exactly as it is?

You look at them as if they are deaf, repeat yourself but they stare back at you with an equally puzzled look. At this point you’re starting to wonder if you both speak the same language, or if your student is ignoring your command.

This can be an extremely frustrating part of teaching martial arts and something that drives instructors mad. I’ve heard comments over the years like, “Why can’t they just do it?”, “He doesn’t listen!” and “I hate teaching kids!”

When something’s not working out between sensei and student, often it’s nothing to do with the student and everything to do with the teacher. Students learn karate in a variety of ways and it is up to the teacher to determine which way works best for the individual.

Frequently the student BELIEVES they are doing what you asked but the reality is that what they see themselves doing is VERY different to what you requested…even if you have mirrors for them to monitor their technique!
 
To illustrate this point, I’d like you to welcome Fedex to our discussion.

Take a few moments to look at the logo…
Do you see the arrow?

Huh?

Yes, the arrow!
Take another look…
Do you see it yet?
It’s not blue. It’s not orange. It’s white.
It’s white there next to the “E” and just before the “x”. (Sorry couldn’t resist the pun)
Do you see it yet? It’s the whitespace between the “E” and “x” letters.

When I first was shown “the arrow” I couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before. I felt kinda silly, but now I know it’s there it’s the first thing I see. And every time I come across it I grab the nearest person and want to ask them, “Hey, do you know about the secret arrow in the Fedex logo?”

Students often don’t see the arrows when they’re learning karate. You see them, they’re obvious of course! But they can look all day long and never see what you see. They THINK they’re doing what you asked, but until you can communicate in such a way that your students become aware of the arrows in their technique, you’ll both be frustrated.

Next time you teach, ask yourself HOW you can communicate better with each of your students? Try to determine HOW THEY LEARN BEST and adapt your teaching style to help them learn in a more effective way.

(Eg. Perhaps this might involve drawing something on the board for visual learners.)

In the next article we’ll look at the different kinds of learners and I’ll give you more specific examples of how to teach to each type, so they learn best…

Until then…

Stay safe, train hard.

~ Jason

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