As in public speaking, one of the most important points about teaching is knowing your audience and knowing what the goal is. The trick is that teaching should be more like conversational public speaking (otherwise your students should just read your book).

Often a teacher learns about the audience and the goal in real time, i.e. during the process of teaching. Whenever humans do something complex in real time, then it is largely a subjective process: a matter of talent, intuition, practice, and experience. Make no mistake: teaching has an objective side: knowledge of the subject, preparation, and skills for teaching the subject.

Teachers should not only study the subject at hand but also how to teach. Principles of learning [W] is a good place to start.

First figure out why you want the students to learn the subject and what you want them to know, and the method will result more or less by common sense.

-Richard Feynman in Brazil, 1952

In this section I hope to work largely at the objective side of teaching the martial arts in general while hinting at the subjective side.

Choosing a School

Choosing a martial arts school


Uniforms server multiple purposes.


Unless your goal is to teach a foreign language or to give historical and cultural backgrounds, use vernacular words instead of proprietary words, especially if a word already exists in the vernacular. The goal is for the students to learn the subject, not stumble over words. Also by using the vernacular, teachers and students can discuss and describe complex and new issues.

Examples for English speakers teaching Japanese karate:

There are, of course, proprietary words that are either extremely concise or do not exist in the vernacular that they are fully justified in their use. EGs:

It is helpful to have terminology describing who is doing what when practitioners are paired up.


An instructor should have all sort of devices to move his students around the room, to pair them up, etc.

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