Module 13: Leadership Training--Running your own class--During class


Voice qualities constitute 38% of the communication process. This means that the tempo, tone, and volume of your voice are more than 5 times as important as the content of the spoken words. An instructor’s voice must be able to relay the importance of the movement, and at the same time be able to generate the excitement needed to keep the students motivated.

Instructors must project their voices so students in the back of the room can hear clearly. We must speak clearly so that our words are understood. If you want the students to be powerful then your voice must be powerful! If you want the student to listen carefully and be quiet, try lowering your voice to a whisper. If you want to generate excitement, try increasing the class pace (be careful not to lose students) by changing the pace of your commands.

The qualities of your voice will help determine if students are excited to listen to what you have to say. If you generate excitement among the students, then they will enjoy your classes more. If they enjoy having you as an instructor then you are on the way to having a successful Elite Martial Arts!


Each and every student should be “touched” three ways every time they come to class! The three “touches” are a powerful way to develop a rapport with your students, and they are the easiest to do! The three “touches” that each student should receive are: eye contact, say their name, and an appropriate physical touch!

As martial arts instructors, we teach respect and confidence to our students every single day! One of the easiest ways to demonstrate respect for a person is to make eye contact with them when we are speaking to them. This will let them know that we respect them as an individual and are willing to take the time to help them achieve their dreams and goals.

Remembering someone’s name is one of the most sincere compliments you can pay a person. It builds their self-esteem, and it lets them know that you think they are important and they have made an impression on you. To most people, hearing one’s name is one of the nicest sounds in the world.

An appropriate physical touch will reinforce the students’ belief in themselves. By patting a student on the shoulder, giving a high-five, or shaking a hand after a student accomplishes something (even the smallest improvement) can leave a lasting positive feeling with the student. This positive feeling will anchor the student to the school and instructor.


Always look for the good things a student does, and let them know about them! This will increase the student’s self-esteem and confidence. A student with self-esteem and confidence will allow themselves to go outside of their comfort zone and learn new and more difficult movements. Confident students will always learn more and become better than students with no confidence! Your job is to give the students a “warm fuzzy” or a “short positive reinforcement” every time they come to class!


“Sue, your flexibility is really improving! Wow, I am so impressed!”


Empathy simply means to try and imagine how another person feels! As instructors, we need to empathize with our students. This is especially true when students are attempting to learn something that is outside of their comfort zone! Everyone’s comfort zone is different, and we need to be aware when someone is feeling uncomfortable with a movement! The student may or may not express their feelings, but we should be able to recognize them! A few guidelines to help students expand their comfort zone are:

• Recognize their feelings and let them know that they are normal, and many other students have gone through the same things!

• Share a common experience with them from your training!

• Break down the movement into simpler movements and have them practice it by the numbers.

• Have them only practice a part of the movement!


One of the most common mistakes is that instructors don’t take the time to listen. You must consider everything your student says or does to be a nugget of gold, to be valued and cherished. Everything he/she says or does is for a reason, and has a direct relationship with your teaching method. Communication has two parts: a message sent (telling or demonstrating a movement) and a message received (interpreting student’s reaction)! Telling alone is not communicating - and it is not instructing either!

Instructors must learn to listen not only with their ears, but also with their eyes. Your ears can receive sound messages (verbal & nonverbal) and your eyes receive body language and spatial messages (posture & movements). Your brain must learn to combine this information and interpret its meaning! Once you have interpreted these incoming messages from your students, you will know if the message you sent to the students (new movement or command) was understood correctly!


Students will rise to the expectations set on them by their instructors! Students train so that they experience some personal growth. If a student stops experiencing personal growth, they will very quickly become bored and quit! If a student feels that they are required to grow too quickly, they will become frustrated and quit! Our job is to help the students to grow at a comfortable pace.

Everyone has a personal comfort zone inside which we don’t experience much personal growth. If a person is pushed outside of their comfort zone, they will be forced to experience new feelings. If they experience feelings of success, they will have a boost in confidence and will strive further outside of their comfort zone. If they experience feelings of failure, they will retreat inside of their comfort zone, and will be fearful of leaving it again.

As instructors, we need to lead each student outside of their own comfort zone. While outside of their comfort zone, students should be monitored to ensure that they experience some level of success! If we fail in this task too often, students will lose interest and eventually quit.


As an instructor, one of your responsibilities is to gently push students outside of their comfort zone so that they can experience personal growth (this relies on your ability to ensure that the students experience positive feedback and enjoy the experience)! In general, students will rise to the expectations that an instructor demands of them (as long as they are reasonable and well-communicated). Therefore, an instructor’s job is to place expectations upon each student individually so they will continue to grow and become better martial artists and people!

To effectively place expectations on individual students, the instructor team must be well-organized. All the instructors must be on the same page with their demands from the students and appear as a unified team. Working as a team, the instructional staff can reinforce the individualized student expectations so that the student experiences the importance of the goal that was given to them! This can be a very powerful and positive experience for the student. If the instructor team doesn’t present a unified front, the results will be weaker, and may even be confusing to the students!

In order to achieve individualized attention among the student population, the instructor team must make an effort to get to know each student’s potential as a martial artist. This is one of the keys to pushing each student to become the best that they can be! Everyone is different, and we all have different abilities. Your teaching should recognize this individuality!


The touch & go session is the most important thing an instructor does for students! It consists of helping a student with a movement and then moving on to help another student. Each touch & go session should last no longer than 15 - 20 seconds. The touch & go session should use a positive reinforcement method of correcting a challenge (such as P/C/P)! After the touch & go session, the instructor should move on and let the student work on the challenge. DO NOT HOVER AROUND THE STUDENT AND MAKE THEM FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE! Allow the student to try and succeed (or fail if necessary), and then come back and praise their success (or give another touch & go session). Touch & go sessions should follow these guidelines:

1. They should not disrupt students (or the class) around the person you are helping! This is most easily accomplished by helping the student from behind!
2. Use a P/C/P method of dealing with challenges.
3. Should not last more than 20 seconds!
4. Do not tower over a student! Get down on a knee or kneel to their level. This goes a long way towards producing a “teachable moment!”
5. Do not overload a student! Give them one (maybe two) thing(s) to work on at a time.
6. If the student does not catch on, let the main instructor know (after class) so that appropriate actions can be taken.
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