Here Comes the Elephant: Part 3

Written by on October 24, 2011

Number three front kick and reverse punch.  Just watch Madison our JTI leader.  See….step together….kick……land….reach…..punch.   You always kick with the front leg.   OK, let’s all do it now, by the count.”

 And so you begin leading twelve basic students, mostly white belts ages 7-12, down the floor.   It’s going OK, but several are challenged with which leg to kick with and others can’t even step together.  In fact, there are at least three different versions of stepping together:

  1. the student steps together, but kicks with the same leg that stepped
  2. the student actually steps in front, instead of together
  3. the student actually does it right.

Of the twelve students, only two are actually doing it right, but you are not daunted, and you move ahead with more repetitions.  One or two are really getting it, but the rest continue to struggle.   In fact, as the drill progresses, you are amazed at how many variations there are.    Some of them do it right three times in a row.  You praise them,  and then suddenly they regress into a multitude of wrong steps and and wrong kicks.    The one good thing that’s happening is that no one seems frustrated.  They are all smiling and happy to be kicking, even if it’s the wrong foot.  But in your own mind, you think, “I can’t get them to do it right and all the parents are watching.  I’ve got to get them to do better.”

So you change the drill by dropping the punch.   OK, now, let’s just work on the kick.  Forget the punch.  I know you can do this.  By the count.  Step, kick.   Good!   Step ….kick.”     They do a little better with this simpler drill, but just like before, after three or four successful reps, they regress into that multitude of variations that are not correct.

A few more minutes pass, and you decide, that’s enough.  “Let’s wrap it up.  Choon bi.  Middle stance punch.  OK, punch hard, yell loud.”   And they do!   In comparison to the #3 front kicks, these punches are great, and they are still smiling.  You don’t feel good  about the #3 front kicks—after all, that was the goal on the class planner–but you feel that you have “salvaged the class” with the middle stance punches.    You look at the parents and say,

Let’s give them a round of applause, come on parents!  Great job, kids!!!!  Clap for yourselves.   Woo hoo!”

 It’s at that moment that you see THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

The “elephant” is the glaring fact that your students did not correctly perform what you asked of them, and yet you told  their parents they did a great job.  In fact, almost all of them performed very poorly.  Yes, they did not get frustrated or cry, but you have to ask yourself, “What did the class look like to the parents?  I said ‘GREAT JOB, KIDS’ and asked the parents to applaud.  But anyone watching could see that the kids failed to perform.”

 So what you say and do next is very important.  Do you simply ignore the elephant?   If yes, then what are the consequences of ignoring it?   If you choose to talk about the elephant—-I mean, after all, this big stinky thing is right there—–what do you say?

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