Thursday, 18 August 2011

Knowing & Understanding

A few months back I recall working on kicking techniques with our children’s class. While reviewing the Rear Leg Front Kick we were breaking the kick down into two stages; shifting the body weight forwards first, then firing the kick off the back and stepping the foot down in front. Until this time, we’d simply practised the kick as a single movement.

Mid way through a very brief 'step by step' demonstration before we continued as a group, a student asked, "Why are we doing it like that? Why don’t we just kick?!"

Now, as an Instructor you never want to come across as too flippant or dismissive, but at the same time you want to keep the class momentum going. If you don’t you can open up the floor for all manner of questions ranging from favourite television programmes to how close a student is until their next this case I managed to get away with, "We're working on making your kick even better!"

It was immediately apparent that the student in question felt that they already knew how to do the kick, ie. they knew how to perform a striking action using the foot. However, they didn't (yet) have a deeper understanding of all the finer parts of the movement that collectively make up that particular kick:

- Pushing of the rear leg to shift the body weight forwards
- Tucking the kicking leg by bending the knee
- Driving the kicking leg forwards to striking the target with the ball of the foot
- Following through the target
- Stepping down in front

To now break the technique down after practising the kick 'in full' wasn't furthering understanding - it was taking a step backwards! Therein possibly lies the difference between knowing a technique and understanding a technique...

Typically when I'm teaching a technique I'll usually follow one of two methods. I simply call them Bottom Up and Top Down. (Yes, I’m sure there are probably more eloquent names, but they do the job).

Bottom Up: Breaking the technique down into 2, 3, or 4 stages and teaching each components of the movement sequentially, building up to the full technique.

Top Down: Show the technique, explain a few defining points of the technique, show it again, then get students to copy it. On successive repetitions additional points and corrections are added or made as required.

Which method I use will depend on a number of factors such as:

- The age and abilities of the students
- The size of the group
- Teaching objective, ie. are we learning a technique for the first time, or reviewing a technique for improvement?
- Teaching time available

For example, Top Down is generally faster but assumes the student can interpret what they are seeing into movement. Whereas Bottom Up gives more detail and promotes better understanding of the technique, but takes longer to deliver.

What's your view on the difference between knowing and understanding?

(Tips on what has helped you to improve a technique are welcome too!)

Jason Wright is a 5th Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor in the martial art Choi Kwang-Do. For further information on Choi Kwang-Do classes in Ealing, West London visit

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Coloured Belt Grading - August 2011

The August Coloured Belt Grading takes place this Wednesday 17th at Crowne Plaza Ealing hotel. The grading will take place the usual class times, children at 6.30pm and adults at 7.30pm although please arrive 10 - 15 minutes early so that you are ready to start on time.

Click here to pay Grading Fees online

View Coloured Belt Grading dates for 2011

Monday, 1 August 2011

Leadership & Black Belt Training - 05/08/2011

Friday 5th August is the date for this month's Leadership & Black Belt Training:

Crowne Plaza London Ealing
Western Avenue
Hanger Lane Gyratory System
London W5 1HG
Click here for a map of Crowne Plaza London Ealing
6.30 - 7.00pm Leadership Training (Junior Leadership Team, AIs, HIs & CIs)
7.00 - 9.00pm Black Belt Training (All Black Belts. Advanced level students upon invitation)

NB. The date of the session in September has been amended to Friday 16th.

Make sure you check the remaining scheduled dates for Ealing CKD and also alternative dates for Leadership & Black Belt Training at Hendon CKD.