Module: Systematized Teaching for Judo

Module: Systematized Teaching Model for Judo

Did you ever stop to wonder why we teach judo?  What about how we teach judo?  What would be the best way to maximize what we teach?  What is the safest way to give instruction?  When are we ready to give instruction?  Is being a black belt good enough to teach judo?  Have we ever as judokas experienced a test to qualify us as a certified instructor?

In past years, the rank of shodan (first-degree black belt) signified a degree of excellence in the ability to execute techniques under stress conditions.  In comparison to “a novice”, the physical movements of shodans were more fluid, graceful and successful.  Undoubtedly, the better judoka were admired, and questioned as to how they were able to execute their moves so gracefully.  Their response to these types of questions gave birth to their teaching experience.  Nonetheless, is this type of teaching experience enough to adequately justify the title of “sensei” or teacher?  Is it enough when we question ourselves as to the best method of instructing and maximizing our contact time with students?  Is being a champion enough to really be an effective instructor, or are there better teaching methods to build judo into a major sport that we all can be proud.  How can we create an industry out of what many consider to be merely a hobby?

What are some of the concepts we want to convey to our students?  As we make our lesson plans and conduct our classes in a systematized manner.  Here are a few items that need to be kept in mind:

  1. The object of the lesson is a concept or technique, clear to both teacher and student.
  2. That these certifications will ensure quality instruction.
  3. That through these programs judo will grow.

The Key Points to Cover

A lesson plan is a map of what you are going to teach and how you are going to teach it.  It can be elaborate and detailed, but more often than not, it is direct and simple, often using just a few words to remind yourself of key points that you want to cover.

Included below is a recommended outline to follow, preceded by a brief discussion of the items to be included in your presentation.  This outline is designed to teach judo techniques and concepts.  But more than teach a technique, or a concept, it is designed to increase interest, judo knowledge, and membership in judo.  Remember you will be graded, and not only in how well you have taught a specific item, but also how many of the key points you were are able to cover.  The items that are to be included are in bold letters, followed by a brief discussion.

  1. Introduction: Give a brief introduction of yourself. “Good Evening, my name is Mitchell Palacio, I have been asked by Sensei Nishioka to share some of my favorite techniques with you.
  2. Assistant Instructors: Give a brief introduction of yourself and your rank. “Good Evening, my name is Mitchell Palacio, I am an assistant instructor here at City College of San Francisco Judo Club. I am a sankyu, 3rd degree Brown Belt.
  3. Control: Control is assumed by merely calling for attention of the students. Call the class to attention; “Bow-in” the class.  Or “Now pay attention to this next item———-.”  Or just get the students into the habit of responding to the command “Matte!”
  • The attention of the students must be directed at the teacher before instruction can occur. Be sure to arrange them so that each one can see your actions and hear your instructions.  Choose your position in relation to the students so that you avoid competing with other distractions.  Often it is a good strategy to have the students seated on the mat in front of you as you initiate instruction.
  • Immediately establish the precedent that when you speak, important information is being communicated.
  • Common denominator: State what will be taught in this lesson then use a common denominator.  A common denominator is a common experience that everyone is likely to understand that can be related to your lesson.  For example, in explaining what a great “taiotoshi throw” feels like, one might say, “Has anyone ever hit a home run or even smashed a golf ball 275 yards.”  You know, like when there is this contact point where you can just feel it in your bones that the ball is gone, POP!!!  Well, let me tell you, when you learn and execute a taiotoshi, you’ll get that same feeling.  The common denominator can also be an item, which can be used to demonstrate a principle.
  • Demonstration: Demonstrating the specific technique and stating the key elements and its value. When demonstrating a technique:
    • Executed in a perfect manner
    • Demonstrate technique from many different angles.
    • Emphasize the key elements of the technique
    • Ask students if there are any questions
    • Restate the objective and its value
      • (e.g. “The objective is to be able to execute the ————— technique so that you can easily throw your opponent;”), “the objective is to count in Japanese. So that when you are called upon to do so, you can.”
    • When your students are at two or three different levels of ability, you may want to establish two or three instructional groups. This can be accomplished using the following three divisions:
      • Early learning – Focus on learning the key elements of the skill in a controlled situation
      • Intermediate Learning – Focus on coordination of all key elements in common situations
      • Later Learning – Automatic use of the skill in contest-like conditions.

    Individuals learn most effectively by focusing their practice attempts on ONE clearly understood element of skilled performance.

    1. Local experience: When demonstrating your technique, relate the technique to a local experience.  As you begin your instruction, establish the need for competence on the objective (why this skill or ability is important) by relating it to some phase of successful individual (current).  An excellent way to gain your students attention and to motivate them to want to learn the individual technique is to mention how a local, regional, national or international student has mastered the skill and used it to great advantage.  The objective of your introductory comments is to establish the idea that mastery of this skill is very important for competition and that the key elements of its execution are achievable.
    2. Audiovisual aids: The use of visual aids like posters, pictures, charts, videos, DVDs, CDs, and books help to reinforce learning. Your visual aids should be easily accessible to the student.
    3. Practice and Correcting: Briefly describe the new skill and then let them try it several times in a quick paced drill setting.  Carefully observe their performance and identify their strengths and weaknesses.  Call them back together and share your observations.
    • This approach will allow you to point out weaknesses in performance on one or more key elements that were common to many, if not all, of the students. Using this approach enhances your credibility and motivates the students to listen and follow your instruction.  Also, your subsequent teaching can be specifically matched to the needs (weaknesses) you observed.  If in your observations of their abilities, you determine that they have already achieved the desired skill level, then you should shift to another skill.

    Correcting the technique or concept where needed.

    • It is always a good idea to start out with a positive note, whenever possible. “You have very good balance”.  “Here’s something that will improve your judo, pull your opponent forward as you step in with the right foot.  The use of two positive comments per one negative comment will leave the student with a positive affirmation.
    • Feedback can be dramatically increased by using assistant instructors and/or students themselves as instructional aids. When instruction is focused on one key element of performance and the important aspects of performing the skill have been effectively communicated to the students, they are often as good and sometimes better at seeing discrepancies in a partner’s performance.  By providing feedback, students are improving their mental understanding of how the skill should be performed.

     Evaluate Results and Take Appropriate Action

    • Evaluation of the student performances must occur on a continuing basis during practice and competition. This is the only valid means to answer the question, “Are the students achieving the skills?”  If they are;
    • Consider how you can be even more efficient. Consider how you can get the same results in less time or how even more can be achieved within the same time allotment.

    If the students are NOT achieving the instructional objectives, it is important to ask, “Why?”  First, assume that you are using inappropriate instructional techniques or that you simply did not provide enough instructional time.  A good approach to answering “Why?” is to go through the instructional factors related to effective instruction.

    1. Continuing education: Encouraging continuing education.  Each contact with students is an opportunity to make judo better.  There are special instances where judo can be improved dramatically.  One of the best places for this is in attendance at clinics, tournaments, and special local workouts.  Nonetheless, unless we promote these programs, they will not occur.
    2. Ownership: Guide the student to references that are available. Prepare a list of recommended books, DVDs, video clips (YouTube) and even judo suppliers where these items can be purchased. In your presentation, include a statement of how one of items could be used to supplement the learning process.
    3. Preview the next lesson: Letting your students know what they will experience in the next lesson will prepare them in advance. You may also suggest books, articles, videos, etc. that may prepare them for the next lesson.  Previewing may also include the need for purchasing equipment or materials to be used or submitted.
    4. Summary: Review the objective(s) of the lesson. Review the value of the lesson.  Promote continuing education and ownership.   Summarization should be brief, but cover the key points.

    Proper use of time is importantTime is a factor; therefore, it is important that you do not waste it.  Most classes last about one to 1 1/2 hours.  Within that time, there are announcements, warm-ups, uchikomi drills, randori time for Tachiwaza and Newaza, cool downs, and ending ceremonies.  Somewhere in the midst of those activities you want to conduct a timely lesson.  Technique lessons should take about 10 to 15 minutes.

    In the evaluation of your teaching segment, the examiners are looking at the quality of the demonstrations, your voice, presence, appropriate time usage, and body language.  The effort is to improve your student, their experience in judo, and the quality of judo overall.