General Etiquette > Life...in general

Asking an instructor for advanced classes (martial arts or otherwise) UPDATE #38

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Adelaide:
I think that this scenario isn't applicable only to martial arts classes, but to any sort of extracurricular or pay-to-participate group activity, so I'm requesting advice from anyone who has run into an analogous situation or who has any ideas how to approach this.

For the past three weeks, my dojo has been hit with an influx of new women (no men) who want to participate and are interested in self-defense. Before they came, my class was made up of people who had passed their belt test (myself included) or who had been to several classes and knew what they were doing, even if they hadn't certified yet. We were learning new techniques and moving forward in the curriculum. After the new members came, we went back to ground zero.

I've endured the "this is how you make a fist and get in a fighting stance" lecture more times that I've ever thought possible, because the women who are coming in have absolutely no training whatsoever. I have had two years of training. Often the men in the class will go off in a corner and work on drills or other exercises, but myself and the other two women who have experience are forced to stay with the new women and either help them or demonstrate what they're supposed to be doing. Even the guys off in the corner don't get that much done, because they're not being taught new techniques.

Because my contract is up for renewal soon, I was thinking about taking the instructor aside and talking to him about this issue, but I don't want to frame it in a way that makes me seem ungrateful or arrogant. At the same time, I'm not paying money to teach new people, and I'm not there to go over the same basic stuff ad nauseam. I was thinking about sitting down in his office and saying something like "Instructor Smith, I've really enjoyed my time here at Hometown Martial Arts Academy, but before I renew my contract I wanted to ask you a couple of questions. I've noticed an influx of new, inexperienced members, which is great, but I was wondering what your plans were for people like Terra, Rose, and myself? Were you planning on picking up the advanced curriculum for the next belt test any time in the near future?"

I've held my tongue for 9 sessions now and I'm not sure if I can anymore. However, I'm usually apprehensive about approaching my martial arts instructors with demands or questions, because I'm so self-conscious about if I'm being polite or not. Does my hypothetical statement above sound okay? Would you add or remove anything? Anyone ever been in a similar situation with a recreational class?

TurtleDove:
I do CrossFit, and there are classes for "Intro," "Intermediate," "Advanced," and "All Levels" at my gym ("box" as the lingo goes). Some smaller "boxes" don't have that luxury, but as an Intermediate/Advanced CrossFitter, I wouldn't go to a beginner gym - it is pricey and I want to see results, not work out with people who are not pushing me and with "scaled" workouts.  I would ask whether your dojo intends to expand its class offerings given its recent expansion, and consider joining a different dojo if it does not. Good luck, and I am envious of your accomplishments!

*inviteseller:
When my DD was doing Karate, there were no set start and end time for classes, so anyone could join at any time, and my DD's age group was beginner white belt up to green belts.  What the instructor did though was offer 2 free classes on Sundays along with their regular Tuesday night class so they learned the basics before getting into the Tuesday night, plus they were given a binder with the moves they had to learn to start.  At the Tuesday classes he kept equal levels paired together, sometimes switching them if a newbie was showing advancement.  The tests were held together but they each only did what they had to do for their stripes or belts.  When the class began for the night they would all do the basic moves to start then he individually went down the line (and he only had 10 kids at most per class) and they had to do the moves they were working on for their next test before they sparred together.  Maybe you could ask him to try some of these ideas because I think the classes worked seamlessly...more advanced did help with the newer ones and the newer ones worked twice as hard to get up to where the advanced were (these were all teens).

afbluebelle:

--- Quote from: TurtleDove on March 30, 2013, 10:08:47 PM ---I do CrossFit, and there are classes for "Intro," "Intermediate," "Advanced," and "All Levels" at my gym ("box" as the lingo goes). Some smaller "boxes" don't have that luxury, but as an Intermediate/Advanced CrossFitter, I wouldn't go to a beginner gym - it is pricey and I want to see results, not work out with people who are not pushing me and with "scaled" workouts.  I would ask whether your dojo intends to expand its class offerings given its recent expansion, and consider joining a different dojo if it does not. Good luck, and I am envious of your accomplishments!

--- End quote ---

I had this awesome post in my head, but Turtle Dove read my mind. I'll just agree with her ;D

lady_disdain:
Straight away, you should stop being the unpaid assistant and move to the corner with the men. There is no reason why the demonstrations have to be done by women or that the teacher can't help them himself. If he needs an assistant, he should either pay one or get a volunteer, not have a paid student spend 100% of their training time on this (I can see how some help is expected in a dojo but not this much).

Second, be much more direct and assertive talking to the instructor (this is martial arts, being assertive is part of it): "Teacher, I am not being taught the skills needed for the next belt. How will the classes be balanced between the beginners and the more advanced students? Do you plan on having intermediate/advanced classes?"

I think you have been much too patient already.

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