This is the text of an email on a martial arts list.

Hello Guys,    This is one of those little instructor tricks that I teach to new instructors when I do teaching seminars. It seems like common sense, but I am always surprised at the fact that so few people know to do this. If you are trying to help a student learn to teach, pass this info along to them. If they know to do something as simple as teach a technique facing the same direction as the class or student it will save quite a bit of time. Here is an email that I sent to another list.


<< Hello All,     One of the more common problems that I see in students, especially the newer ones is that they are not very adept at translating a movement that they see over to themselves. They can see it and identify it but they cannot seem to get it themselves. I work with a lot of instructors on how to deal with this problem. 

     The primary causes are the fact that most people have never had to do much of this in their lives and they just have not developed the skill.  Eventually the skill develops but it can take a while. It is very common to see it lacking in children's classes. A very common symptom of this is when students   mirror a movement rather than relative reverse. When a student can do a relative reverse the instructor can face them and do the movement and they will reverse it relative to their own position, and do it on the correct side. If the instructor does the movement with the left hand or leg or turns to a certain side, the student must be able to reverse this since they are facing the opposite direction. If a student mirrors, when the instructor  moves their left side, the student tries to move their right because it appears correct since it is on the same side of the room, this also means  that they will turn in the direction the instructor did relative to the room rather than the bodies. 

  There are a couple of things that are very simple that can be done for this.  The first step is to demonstrate a movement with the students facing the same way as the instructor. This is especially helpful in the case of complex series of movements done in order. You can see this at work when the students partner up for training. The half of the students who are facing the same direction as the instructor when the movement is demonstrated, will get it right far sooner than the group who are facing the other direction. Something as simple as showing the technique in the same relative position as the students can speed a class up greatly.

 If you are teaching and you are calling things like "left" "right" or calling turns, etc., give visual cues along with verbal directions. If you are saying "we are going to step forward with our left foot" you should raise your left hand so that everyone can see it. A simple visual cue along with a verbal direction can also speed up class. 

 One approach to developing the ability to translate movement in children is to play a type of follow the leader in which an instructor or student stands at the head of the class and does large visual movements that must be followed by the class. Stepping left or right raising arms turning to face  left or right, etc., one or two min. of this at the start of class will  develop the skill quickly in the students, and they tend to think of it as a  game.

If you see a student with this problem, try some of these tricks and see what happens. The key to fixing a lot of training problems is to put yourself in the position of the student for a moment.  Rob

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