On May 25th, I hosted my first Counterpoint Tactical Systems seminar at Apex Martial Arts here in St. Louis. I’ve been wanting to write up a review or summary or something about the seminar. I’m still processing a lot of the lessons that I learned during that time, and I can’t get the write up exactly the way that I want at the moment.
While he was here, Master Whitson taught me a lot about teaching. An integral part of achieving expertise is teaching. I first found out that teaching requires a deeper knowledge of the material in graduate school when I taught the mechanics of materials lab for beginning engineering students. When we are in the process of learning, we only see the techniques, principles, applications, etc. from our own vantage point, but others don’t have the backgrounds, biases, experiences, and peccadilloes that we do. Combine the personal quirks with the fact that everyone has a different way of learning, we see that the method which worked for us will not necessarily fit for everyone. We have to be creative in teaching others; we have to be empathetic.
My past experience in teaching martial arts is limited to a small time during a club in college. There was no set curriculum, and when it was my turn to teach, I just showed what I found interesting that day. CTS is a structured art with well defined curriculum blocks. At this point, I like teaching from a curriculum much better because it gives me a path. It helps me and my students see progress. Within the curriculum block, I can teach whatever I feel like that day. Some days are Panantukan days, some are Pangamot, and some are both (for beginning students). I get the best of both methods in that I can teach what I feel like while still making progress.
As part of what Master Whitson and I discussed, my classes will be changing a little. Part of his advice was to add footwork patterns to the warmup. Footwork is something that can always be improved, and it is worth practicing as part of every class. So much of the art involves ranging and zoning that the student will use footwork throughout every new curriculum block. Advice like this is invaluable because Master Whitson has more experience as an instructor than I do. He also has a more comprehensive view of the system and how to plan for the long term.
I still have a lot to learn about teaching the martial arts, and I can count on Master Whitson and the other CTS instructors for advice. I rely heavily on Mike Miller of Springfield FMA for mentoring as a CTS club leader. Part of my training sessions with him is a discussion about teaching methods. Learning CTS has been so much more than just learning a martial art. I’ve made friends, and I’ve found a support system as I grow as a club leader. I’ve found my place int he martial arts.