In life we constantly learn new skills. Starting from a young age we are introduced to different models of learning. In Karate just like in other subjects we have to have a structure of progression through the education levels.
In our Karate style we have a simple and transparent way of teaching students of any grade from beginner to advanced. This structure is based on the traditional model of teaching in martial arts.
Knowledge is passed from generation to generation, from master to student. In the dojo environment the teacher is the main source of knowledge.
To understand the relationship between teachers and students we need to know the grade structure and terminology in use in the dojo environment.
Now that we know who is who in the dojo let’s take a look at how the knowledge is distributed throughout the organisation.
Taking in to consideration the time and effort it takes to achieve mastery in Karate there will always be more students than teachers. Passing knowledge via the traditional (Japanese) model differs from the modern (Western). In the modern model the Sensei passes knowledge to students who then focus on their own progress.
In the traditional model students receive instructions from the Sensei and they have to pass this on to lower grade students, so the least experienced students get more information from more sources than in the modern model.
There is another mechanism in place at our organisation that is different when compared to some others. A lot of western dojos have their Sensei focus most of their attention on beginners. This can lead to higher grades not learning anything new due to lack of support, which can result in them quitting.
For us, the highest graded students get the most attention and instruction to make sure that they are continuing to advance their knowledge.
It is not that the Kohai is left alone to blindly copy Sempais and Sensei, they do have some of their attention, but they mainly benefit from being facilitated by all of the higher grades.
In our club all of our students and teachers have responsibilities. The Sensei passes on knowledge and Sempais are absorbing and passing this knowledge on to the Kohais. With time and grade responsibility grows.
As an organisation there are two models of seeking knowledge – open and closed. The latter model means that students are restricted to only one source of knowledge, their own organisation. In Shin Ai Do we prefer and encourage an open model.
We recommend to our members that they not only learn from other styles of Karate, but that they try to find useful information from other martial arts and sports.
I hope that this short article has managed to demonstrate our simple learning model.