Leadership Training--Becoming an Instructor-Module 9

All the information from the external world is taken in through the senses. Although everyone utilizes all of his/her senses, each person has a preference for one sense over the others. Knowing that preference is key to establishing rapport with the student. Once someone’s sensory preference is known, certain reactions and behaviors can be anticipated. Information can be presented in a format that matches the person’s sensory preference. This will greatly increase the number of “teachable moments” the student experiences with the instructor.

Every person has five senses that allow us to interpret different kinds of information: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, taste, and smell. The first three are the ones used most often in Martial Arts training. Students tend to prefer one of the first three modes, or a combination of the three. If an instructor wishes to teach the student efficiently, they must adapt the information to the mode the student learns in best.

The following is a description of the three main learning modes. By understanding the modes, an instructor can adapt their teaching style to any one (or a combination of) the modes. This is a very powerful method to increase the rapport with a student.

Visual students can witness a movement and then perform that movement with few errors. A visual student receives and sorts information (learning) primarily by creating pictures in their mind.
Similarly, when a student is pulling information from their brain files (remembering), they do so in the form of pictures. A visual person refers to their sense of sight when communicating (see, show, look, imagine, pretty as a picture, showing off, paint a picture, make a scene, in person, eye to eye, clear, foggy, …). A student who looks up at the ceiling when they encounter a tough movement is most likely a visual learner. They are looking at their “mental pictures.”

Aural students process mental data via hearing or listening to what is being said. For an auditory person, listening is everything. When information is taken into their brain, an auditory person will retain information via words and sounds. The words used by an auditory person clearly indicate they process information with sounds (hear, sound, listen, silence, rings a bell, earful, unheard of, describe in
detail, express yourself, pay attention to, tattle tale, …). A student who looks down to the floor, or vocalizes the moves when performing a movement, is likely to be an auditory communicator. They are listening to the information that is coming from their brain.

These students rely solely on a sense of feel to learn. You must touch these people to help them develop a sense of rhythm, flow and feel for the movement. Kinesthetic learners process their world and retain information through feeling, emotion, tactile sensations, or movements. They express themselves with action words (feel, touch, grasp, hard, unfeeling, get hold of, make contact, slipped my mind, get a handle, boils down to, hold on, start from scratch, pull some strings, …). When a student does a movement and their eyes remain level to the ground and dart back and forth, they are likely to be kinesthetic communicators. They feel the movements, and as a result, tend to take their time.


The importance of communication styles to an instructor lies in recognizing what type of student you are teaching and adapting your communication style to theirs. A single student rarely falls strictly into one communication style and a whole classroom full of students will definitely be comprised of a mixture of communication styles. Therefore, the instructor, in general, should teach the class by painting a broad picture that all communication styles can understand. If you cater your teaching style to only one type of communicator, then you are leaving out two-thirds of the students.

To effectively teach all students, instructors should used words and phrases that support all three communication styles. This is key to establishing rapport with as many students as possible. By accomplishing this, the instructor will communicate with the majority of the students more effectively.

The following are a few methods to teach students with each kind of communication style. These methods should be combined to optimize the effectiveness of the instructor’s communication to the students.

1. Have the students sit and watch the movement being demonstrated.
2. Demonstrate the movements with the class.
3. Have the students close their eyes and “visualize” the movement.
4. Raise the hand you want them to use.
5. Tap the leg you want them to use.

1. Describe in words the movement that you want them to perform.
2. Have students say the movements as they walk through it.
3. Let a student “talk” another student through the movements.
4. Use descriptive words such as snap, stomp, explode, higher, faster. . .etc.
5. Have the student listen for the sounds that a movement should create.

1. Allow the students to do the movement.
2. Help them by describing how the movement should feel.
3. Break the movement down, and have them experience how each part should feel.
4. Have them close their eyes and feel the movements as they go through them.
5. Physically move students through techniques, and let them feel the motion.
What kind of learner are you? *
How often do you get frustrated because "you are not getting it? *
How would you suggest your instructor train you differently *
What style of teaching do you think you primarily use? *
What changes will you make in your teaching style as a result of this module? *
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