If your dojo is anything like a typical youth dojo, you probably have belt tests on a fairly regular basis. Allowing these periodic intervals for students to mark their progress can really boost motivation to achieve higher levels of mastery. The following series of 4 articles will explore some helpful strategies for encouraging your students to progress in their martial arts training.
Try to Get a Feel for Whether a Student is Enthusiastic, Nervous, or Apathetic
Building a rapport with and gaining trust from your young martial arts students takes time, effort, and flexibility. It doesn’t always happen overnight. As you get to know your students beyond a surface level, you’ll likely start to pick up on their attitudes toward you as well as toward learning martial arts in general.
Depending on their personalities, some students tend to thrive on the anticipation of advancement while others tend to fret and worry about upcoming belt tests. Then, there’s the category of students who don’t really take their martial arts instruction as seriously as they should. This last group of students’ attitudes could probably be summed up as, “Belt test? What belt test?”
As a martial arts instructor, it’s your job to try to encourage those who are progressing slower than others to buckle down and do their best. It’s also your responsibility to help to alleviate some of the pressure that your students tend to feel so they won’t get discouraged and feel like quitting. Finally, you need to help those who seem uninterested in progressing to see the importance of improving their skills.
Though it seems like a tall order, there are some ways you can address the varying emotional and motivational states of your students so they’ll be more likely to meet their full potential without getting burnt out.
Category Number One: Enthusiastic Students
There will be some students that naturally seem to love learning martial arts. These are the enthusiastic students every Sensei thoroughly enjoys teaching. These students will often be your quick learners who tend to catch onto techniques more rapidly than others. When it comes to these students, they probably won’t need much extra encouragement to work hard and get prepared for their belt tests.
Category Number Two: Nervous Students
Then you have your nervous students. Oftentimes these are students who tend to take life and themselves very seriously. They can be extremely hard on themselves when they make mistakes. Or, they may just sincerely struggle with mastering techniques and tend to get overly discouraged. These students are more likely to look at upcoming belt tests with dread rather than eager anticipation.
Category Number Three: Apathetic Students
Finally, you have your apathetic students. These kids can lack the necessary motivation to progress in martial arts for a whole host of reasons. They may lack adequate rest or nutrition. Or perhaps they have trouble focusing due to their age, personalities, or a medical condition. Perhaps they have a tendency to want to make others laugh and be the center of attention. For whatever reason, this group of students may prove to be your most challenging when it comes to motivation.
In this series of articles, we’ll take an in-depth look at how you can motivate each category of students to work hard, do their best, make progress, and enjoy their martial arts training. Continue reading with Part 2.