There is the well known idea regarding teaching that if you can’t explain what you are trying to do to a child then you don’t fully understand the thing yourself. Kids, especially younger ones, seem to use the socratic method as their default to anything they don’t understand, “why do you do this? How do you do that? I don’t understand how to just step here or just put my hand there”. I find with the older ones this isn’t so much the case, perhaps that may be our social pressures of not wanting to appear “stupid” or beginning to grow up and to be less inquisitive, just to take instruction and get on with things. I have found that working with the younger children has definitely helped improve my own understanding of the small details of the things that I would do but, perhaps, took for granted their importance or was ignorant to the fact that I was unaware of how to break down the very basics.
I know that when I am being taught a particular technique if it’s broken down into more than three, maximum four, steps then I feel like I am being bombarded with information and, I’ll no doubt, forget the details of the start of the technique when I come to practise. That’s not to say that the details aren’t important, they are! It’s vital though that the information is presented clearly and simply so that it is more easily absorbed, giving the learner a better understanding of how to go away and practise properly. Something I picked up from my coach, Luke Preston, is that there is nothing wrong with breaking down the steps and practising them individually, I’ll use a throw for an example; you can go away and practise the entry, then practise the load, then practise the finish. Plenty of times we have been on the mat for a technical session for over an hour and only covered one technique, but at the end of the session I walk away feeling like I am beginning to understand it inside out. And that’s what is wanted isn’t it? To have a technique so refined and practised that should the opportunity be there, it could be executed on anyone. It’s also why I don’t like having numbers of repetitions thrown at me, I feel like I have to rush to get them done. Luke has us do things to time, “10 minutes on this one”. I much prefer this method as I feel I can take my time and get things right, not skipping the small details to, “get the reps in”. I try to emulate this in the lessons that I lead. If I practise incorrectly it doesn’t magically correct itself under the white hot heat of contest. I did a plastering apprenticeship before I became a full time athlete and off the back of that I always try to view technical practise on the mat, in the weights gym, on the running track etc as learning a craft. The same way that coaching is a craft, delivering techniques, ideas and working with different personalities, it’s craftsmanship.
That’s also the idea of the short tutorial videos that we at Camberley Judo Club are putting out each week across our social media accounts and on Youtube; one fundamental idea at a time so that you can take your time to build a strong base that you can work from when you go to your training sessions to perfect your own fighting system and craft. It’s also a great way for us to keep everyone updated with events happening at the club, our regular classes, training camps, open sessions led by Olympic level coaches and athletes. Any suggestions of content that you would like to see then please get in touch.