Teachers have a grand responsibility to transfer knowledge to their students. Within any profession, there are good teachers and well,… not-so-good ones. Teaching requires confidence, assertiveness, and knowledge. If confidence is lacking then students won’t respect them. Likewise, sub-par teachers hide their shortcomings in counterproductive ways. For instance, an insecure teacher will not want a student to supersede their skills. They treat knowledge transfer as a glass ceiling, with an agenda of, “I want you to be good, but not better than me”. Insecurity leads to treating students as rivals. This comes from an intrinsic weakness to protect their position of dominance. If their student supersedes them, they feel their dominance will be threatened.
When a teacher views their student as an opponent, their knowledge transfer is dramatically compromised. Insecurity leads to not wanting to teach students their deepest “secrets”, for fear that one day they will challenge their leadership. In the presence of a glass ceiling, an insecure teacher will not reveal their secrets. Likewise, a dilemma occurs when a student perceives their teacher as an opponent. When this happens the student is blinded from learning, because their goal is to win and not learn. In our full-cup analogy, they are clouded by ego and victory.
To learn effectively,
a student must check their ego at the door.
Insecurity leads to complicated interactions in society, not just in combat sports. These issues can apply across all layers of society – between colleagues, friends and even family members. It’s important to recognize insecurity, externally and internally. Understanding how one’s insecurity is received by others, and how external insecurity is manifested. It’s important for teachers to recognize their insecurities. Recognizing these weaknesses is the first step to improving one’s self and the students under their care.
In contrast, a confident teacher will take all the steps necessary for a student to exceed their abilities, and to reach their full potential. This should be the ultimate goal and gratification of a great teacher – to make their students better than them. When a student exceeds their teacher a magical milestone is recognized with pride and joy. At that moment there is satisfaction in knowing they have succeeded in transferring all of their knowledge. It may also mean that the student must find a new teacher to take their skills to the next level. This is a humbling moment on both sides and should be anticipated as a likely outcome.
Teachers are forever students.
A humble teacher knows that their knowledge is a continuous evolution, even in the face of their students. A confident teacher will allow themselves to learn from their students. Everyone has a fresh perspective to offer. It takes confidence to learn from a student, to be constantly challenged, and to be open to different perspectives and possibilities.
About the Author
Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.
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Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series
If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:
• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°