Leadership Training--Becoming an Instructor--Part 5--Module 11

Authority vs. Influence

In teaching Martial Arts, hopefully, we are not disciplining our students as much as we are teaching them self-discipline. When we discipline our students, we are using authority to get them to take action. This usually works in the short term, but does very little to cultivate the students’ desire to be self-motivated. Instead, it can create resentment (from the parents too), laziness, or perhaps even break their spirit. Students under 18 should almost never discipline the students unless they are totally disrupting the class. Always involve the head instructor when discipline is necessary.

On the other hand, using our ability to influence students into action, rather than forcing them into action, creates self-discipline. A self-disciplined person knows what to do and then does it. They are internally motivated, and therefore much easier to teach.

If you push someone, their natural reaction is to push back, to fight you. On the other hand, if you gently take them by the hand and guide them, they will gladly go your way.

How can you use your influence instead of your authority while teaching? One of the most important ways is by using positive reinforcement. Look for the good in your students and then tell them about it. This may seem too idealistic, but it is incredibly effective. Don’t tell them what they shouldn’t do; it is impossible to concentrate on the negative of an idea. Instead, show them what they should do.

Saying “Don’t strike out!” forces you to think about striking out. Saying “Get a hit!” would be a better phrase to get the results needed.

(D.E.C.R.) = Demonstration, Explanation, Correction, Repetition

Having a method with which to teach curriculum is very beneficial. This four step method works well in introducing new curriculum.

1. Demonstration: Demonstrate the technique the way it is supposed to look.
2. Explanation: Explain the how and why of the movement.
3. Correction: Correct mistakes before they become habits.
4. Drill: Drill the move until it becomes second nature.


The words we choose to use can have a powerful impact on creating “teachable moments” for our students. By carefully selecting certain words, we keep the students at ease and feeling positive about themselves and about us as instructors. This rapport establishes open communication channels and creates students who are quick learners and easy to teach!

“Now” vs. “But”
Generally, the word but tends to cancel out the effect of the words that were before it and add emphasis to the words after it! This can have a negative impact on our P/C/P methodology, and we need to be aware of this effect!

“Jon, that was an excellent front kick . . . but I want you to have good upper body control!”

“Jon, that was an excellent front kick . . . now I want you to have good upper body control!”

By simply replacing the word but with the word now, we end up with a sentence that is perceived as more positive by the student!

“Get” vs. “Earn”
Students should never use the word “get” when talking about things that they are really “earning.” Instructors need to be very aware of interchanging the two words!

Belts & Stripes are always earned!
Presents & Prizes are given away!


A very powerful method to help students learn faster is to get them involved in the learning process itself! There are many ways of accomplishing this. One of them is the use of Call and Response! The Call and Response is composed of two parts: the call and then the response! The Call is a phrase or action initiated by the instructor. The Response is a phrase or action taken by the students in response to the instructor’s Call!
Call and Responses can be used to serve two purposes. They can be used to help students remember important parts of hard to learn techniques or they can be used to help cultivate the “I can do it!” attitude in the students!

Examples: Front Stances
Front knee is. . .
. . .BENT!
Back leg is . . .
Both heels are on the . . .
. . .GROUND!

Examples: Side Kick

Number one, hide your. . .
Number two, get a good . .
. . .PIVOT!
Number three, have to have good…
. . .FOCUS!

Examples: Motivational
Can you do it? . . .
. . . I CAN DO IT!
How bad do you want it? . . .
Is it possible? . . .

Example: High Kicks
If you want to kick high, you must…
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