Is Progress and Skill In Martial Arts Up To The Teacher or The Student?

United States
January 25, 2007 1:05pm CST
Recently I had a discussion with a couple of black belts I know. We were talking about rank, teachers and students. One black belt feels that as long as students memorize the required material, they should be promoted. He feels that developing skill, speed and strength is up to the student. His thought was that he can only teach the material and help to encourage the student, but that it was up to the student to push him or her self and become good. Some students are only in the martial arts for fitness or fun, so it is not that important to them, while others will meet the challenge and become good. The other instructor believes that a student has to meet a certain level of skill to be promoted. If their technique isn't good enough, or if their attendance or effort level is not up to par, they will not be promoted. He believes that rank is something to be earned. If a student does not push themselves to reach the level of skill he deems appropriate for each belt level, then it is their fault they can not pass their test. He says he will not water down his organization to indulge less than dedicated students. What are your thoughts? Is it better to keep a student motivated and involved, even if it means lowering rank standards? Is it better to maintain rank standards even if it means students might quit or get frustrated? What does either choice mean for the style as a whole, or for a school owner's bottom line?
3 people like this
5 responses
@Cephoozee (374)
• United States
7 Mar 07
I agree with the second instructor, just about everything about skill is up to the student. However, without a very good instructor, then there is no foundation for that skill, and it helps to have a very skilled master or instructor, you have no idea how many times I've seen an instructor who is lazy, fat, and only gives commands or shows the students the technique once or twice and expects them to perfect it and ends up becoming enraged by the student's lack of discipline. I'd understand that coming from my Sifu, who I see either practicing a form or learning a new one or developing his own. I respect my Sifu probably more than anyone besides my parents and girlfriend, and I'd never blame him for my own faults, he's the best teacher a student could ask for.
2 people like this
@Lydia1901 (16353)
• United States
2 Feb 07
I think it should be totally up to the students. If they want to learn and the teacher sees that then they should get promoted to the next level and if they don't seem to work hard for it, then maybe they should talk to them and see what is the problem.
@vhansen (2029)
• United States
20 Mar 07
I agree with the first teacher.You can't 'make' someone learn anything.All you can do is teach them to the best of your ability and hope something sticks.What the person does with the knowledge is entirely up to them.Different people have different skills and levels of learning and everyone isn't going to fit into neat little cubby holes or ranks.The second teacher in my view is unrealistic in that respect.Perhaps he should have some kind of screening process and only except those who meet his standards.
@Makoy1983 (1084)
• Philippines
11 Mar 07
80% student, 20% teacher aside from teaching and guiding the student the skills, one important role of the teacher is to develop the student personally. that is by letting the student have more confidence in him, teaching him patience or in short, virtues. but everything would still boil down to the student. its the interest in the art and motivation that would give the students the improvement. students could train in their own with ot without the teacher to further enhance their skills and develop their own style
1 person likes this
@mulciber (58)
• Netherlands
9 Mar 07
I think that for a person who is more interested in fun and fitness progress is an important motivating factor. If he/she doesn't work on the technique that much they shouldn't get a new belt, but a lot will give up because of it.
1 person likes this