Teaching versus Conducting an Orchestra
Conducting a Taekwondo training class is similar to conducting an orchestra. An orchestra conductor must lead a group of individual musicians with different skill levels playing different types of musical instruments in a manner that allows each musician play his or her best while still blending in with the orchestra to create beautiful music. A Taekwondo instructor leads a group of individual students of different belt ranks, each with a different type of body and skill level, in a manner that allows each student train at his or her best while still blending in with the class to create a harmonious learning environment. To conduct a smooth running Taekwondo class that is both challenging and enjoyable to a group of students with different skill levels requires an exceptional instructor. If all students are taught the same techniques in the same manner, the lower ranked students may feel discouraged at not being able to perform difficult techniques and the higher ranked students may feel bored at having to perform easy techniques. An instructor must simultaneously:
- Teach all students techniques that are applicable for their belt rank,
- Watch each student so corrections or rewards may be given when required,
- Keep the overall energy of the class at a high level,
- Challenge each student both physically and mentally, and
- Keep the entire class moving smoothly toward a successful conclusion.
To accomplish all these things, an instructor must know each student personally. He or she must know each student's capabilities (present physical ability, potential physical ability, learning potential, emotional state, desire, and determination) and be able to use this information at the appropriate time to keep a class moving smoothly and effectively. Just as all orchestra conductors are not great conductors, not all Taekwondo instructors are able to orchestrate a great training class. Some instructors, although they may be superior instructors in every other way, are not able to conduct a great class—a well-orchestrated class is a thing of beauty in which it is a pleasure to participate.
Teaching versus Multiplication Tables
If I tell you that 8x3=24, then, when you see 8x3 again, you will know the answer is 24. However, if you see 5x3, you will not know the answer. If I explain to you that 8x3 means that you add 8 to itself 3 times, then, when you see 5x3 or 4x6, you will be able to deduct the answer. The same principle may be applied to teaching Taekwondo techniques. If I show you how to perform a sequence of self-defense techniques in response to a specific attack, you will be able to perform that technique under the given circumstances. However, if the attack varies, you will not know how to respond and may freeze. Whereas, if I teach you some basic self-defense principles, you will be able to deduce how to respond to any type of attack effectively.
Sparring versus Puzzles
To achieve the goal of having a competed jigsaw puzzle, you must choose the proper puzzles pieces and then place them into their proper positions. It is a waste of time to try to fit the wrong piece into an open puzzle position. When sparring, to achieve the goal of winning, you must choose the proper weapons and then fire them into the proper targets. It is a waste of time to fire the wrong weapon at the wrong target. A wide foot may not get through a narrow opening in the opponent's defenses, while a narrow fist may penetrate into the opening.
Sparring versus Windshield Wiper
When blocking, the arm may wipe away an attack by moving in a broad, sweeping movement across the line of attack, such as the way a squeegee is swept across a car windshield to clear it, or the arm may move in a rotating movement using the elbow as a pivot point, such as the way a windshield wiper moves to clear a windshield.
Sparring versus Playing Pool
Sparring is similar to playing the game of pool. In pool, you try to shoot the most balls into the table pockets. If you only concentrate on shooting at one ball at a time, you will probably lose the game. To become a proficient pool player, you must think ahead to your second, third, etc. shots. You must sink the ball you are aiming at, but, you also must consider where the cue ball, and other ball your shot puts in motion, will come to rest after the shot. You want the cue ball to stop at a position that will permit you an easy shoot at the next ball you want to shoot at. When considering the first shot and where the cue ball will stop for the second shot, you should also consider the availability of a third shot.
To become proficient in sparring, you must consider your opponent's reaction to your attack and where your body will come to rest after the attack. You must think ahead two, three, or more movements before making your initial attack. Consider how your opponent may block or avoid your attack, and where your body position should be after you initial technique to take advantage of your opponent's reactions. Your body position after an attack should be in an advantageous position to you while either setting your opponent up for another attack or hindering your opponent from counterattacking.