I’m still riding high from the Typhoon Haiyan relief seminar that we put on this past Sunday. It was an honor to be able to help the Philippines in their time of need, and it was wonderful to be able to work with such talented martial artists as well. I was lucky enough to be one of the instructors that day. Since I created the schedule, I purposefully put myself last to watch how the more experienced instructors taught their portion of the seminar. Now that I have students, I’ve learned that teaching is an art of its own. People learn in individual ways, and with my smaller class sizes, I’ve been able to tailor instruction to smaller groups. This seminar was my first time teaching a class of more than five people. I knew that I could benefit from the experience of the other instructors. Luckily, there are a lot of resources I can turn to for help. Tim Rivera, lead instructor at Garimot St. Louis, gave me some great advice about structuring a class. I used it and liked it. Tim, thank you for the advice.
Each instructor taught me a little about how to teach a big class like that, but I gained the most from actually teaching. There is much more to learn on this subject, though. I think I did well teaching and took notes for future improvement. Tim’s advice was to allot ten minutes for instruction and practice, which would break an hour into six segments. This structure worked for me, and I think it’s a good organizational tool for larger classes. It really helped narrow down what material I could cover. At first, I thought ten minutes was a long time. Was I ever wrong. Each ten minute segment went by very fast. This structure is also flexible though. I was going to teach inside passing from Cacoy Doce Pares (and the Counterpoint Tactical System red belt curriculum). Tim taught a similar passing drill earlier from Garimot Arnis; so, I was able to go quickly through inside passing.
My goal was to teach a lead up to the close quarter sparring that Cacoy Doce Pares does so well. Obviously, it takes longer than an hour to cover all the stuff needed to get into the sparring portion. So, I showed inside passing, parts one through eight of the John Mac attack striking pattern with some timing changes, striking to some grappling, and the Jennifer trapping drill. Things went well until the Jennifer drill. I got a lot of blank stares when I showed the Jennifer drill, and from what I saw earlier, I knew the problem was my instruction. I had watched these participants pick up lessons all day and run with them. So, my explanation was lacking. Tobias Gibson asked some excellent questions that helped me reframe the drill into something that the group could understand better. Fortunately, my brain was still working and came up with an alternate way of demonstrating and explaining that made sense. This also made me go back and assess my other explanations, and I could have gone more in depth on other parts of my hour. It will be an ongoing experience to determine how much description is enough without giving too little or too much.
I was very happy with the lesson overall. I think it went well. Next time I have a similar opportunity, I will leave off the Jennifer drill altogether and focus more on the John Mac attack striking pattern and why we use striking patterns. Twice this year, my instructor Master Zach Whitson, has discussed why striking patterns are important, and really, it started to click with me during the in-depth Lihok ni Cacoy class he taught this past November. I’ve been thinking it through and working it into my weekly classes. I had an opportunity to try to work through more of that thought process with other artists who have the ‘outsiders’ perspective. Next time, I will take advantage of that. But for now, I’m just happy that I got to demonstrate an art that I love for a good cause.