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.


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.

Leave a Comment