What it means to be a Black Belt Assistant Instructor

Ever since the day I got my black belt, I knew how much responsibility it would be to teach. When I got my black belt I knew that I wasn’t done learning. There were still forms to be learned and I must learn from teaching other students. Teaching a whole entire class and controlling it seemed impossible at that time. That meant I still had a lot to learn from teaching. Just because I am black belt, doesn’t mean that I am done with Wu Tang.

I have met lots of students and taught from children to adults. I had a different experience with each and every student met from their personality. In middle of teaching, one thing I realized was that as a student you can’t just learn and do forms. You have to put your heart into the form. If you don’t have any confidence in learning and you don’t put your time in it, then you won’t gain anything out of learning. Ways to get students to learn is by motivation and making it fun for them. You should use games to make it an enjoyable time their, but don’t play around in games for to long because that’s the only thing they would be thinking about and the time would be wasted. That’s why after letting them work hard I would let them play a game as if it was a reward for working.

Sometimes it can be tough to control a class. In order for me to maintain discipline, the key is to keep the class controlled before it gets too loud and wild. No screaming/yelling and running– anything above a certain point– I don’t tolerate because someone always ends up hurt and crying. Another thing I learned, is that if the student doesn’t respect you, then you can’t control him/her. You have to show your reputation the fact that you are the teacher. Your reputation doesn’t come from yelling and punishment. It comes from the learning process where you bond with the students. That’s how I made my reputation as a teacher. I maintained my discipline ever since I was a brown belt, because my instructors always reminded me to keep my discipline and to not fool around. They told me that because I was starting to teach students, I should keep my discipline and to be a good role model for the students. That’s why I tell the higher belt students to maintain their discipline, because I want them to get into a habit.

Not all students learn the same way or at the same pace. Some students can learn and coordinate very quickly; some other students need more attention to understand a move. When I teach a part of a form, I first show them that part 3 times, and then I would ask them if they want to review or if they get it. If they get it then I would ask them to show it to me and I would check it. If they still don’t get it I would show it 3 more times slower and I would repeat the process until they get it. 1 year after I got my black belt, the problem I had the most in teaching was patience. Getting frustrated over teaching wasn’t going to help the process. I learned to respect the student for the way they learn. Sometimes the reason they can’t learn quickly is because their memory isn’t good. A way I don’t get frustrated when I teach a student is by thinking as if I was in the student’s position.

Even though now I’m mostly teaching, I am still learning a lot. I learned to communicate and understand students’ feelings. I learned ways to keep them motivated and ways to grasp their attention. Now teaching a whole entire class seems like a simple task because I learned to control students. I have a greater responsibility now and I go and help out classes every week. Becoming a black belt gave me the learning experience that I am using every time I’m in Wu Tang.

Black Belt Instructor Sean Zhou (age 13)

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