For Martial Arts
I have included this page on multiple intelligences for the information of both martial arts students and teachers. I hope teachers will care enough to understand and teach all of their students, not just the ones that are easy because they have the same learning style as the teacher. I hope students who feel like slow learners will find better self esteem as they understand not all people learn the same way and there is a better way for them.
tudents have different learning styles known as multiple intelligences
. These learning intelligences
affect the way a martial arts teacher passes information to his students. They also affect the way individual students learn. I recently did a university course on this and would like to take it outside of its usual school classroom setting and apply it to how we might understand and use our multiple intelligences to be better students of martial arts.
Let me start with a statement that will surprise about half of the people reading this and bring relief to the other half. I can't learn a martial arts movement by watching someone else do it.
This remains true even if the teacher demonstrates it twenty times, or if I try to imitate the movements other students are making in an application. You could have me watching for an hour and the entire hour would be wasted because I wouldn't understand or learn the application. This happened to me last year. I'm not a visual learner. In fact, when testing for multiple intelligences, this is among my lowest learning abilities.
About half of you are visual/spatial though, and since this is the preferred teaching style of many martial arts teachers, the number of visual learners in martial arts increases proportionately as the learners of other styles become so frustrated and feel so dumb, they drop out.Visual/spatial learners can see which foot or arm is moving and can translate the movement even from a different angle, to do it themselves, without any other clues. If you are a visual/spatial instructor, you'll like these students because they seem to be your fast learners.
If you are not a visual/spatial learner you might be:
A Kinesthetic Learner. If you are kinesthetic, you learn best by doing something physically. You need to be the one the application is being demonstrated on. You won't understand push hands unless you have someone show you what it feels like to be soft and yielding. In sanshou, you won't learn the basic strikes well until someone does them to you and you feel how they are supposed to go. So ask your teacher to demonstrate on you. He can't do it all the time. He has other students. But when he does, you will learn better. Ask the teacher to put your hands and feet in the correct position.
I'm a kinesthetic/linguistic/relational learner. So when I instruct others, it's very hands on. I am always moving their limbs into the correct position, turning their hips to the correct angle, holding their hand with a sword in it and making the movement with them. This sort of teacher involvement is what improves my own learning, so I also try to help others kinesthetically. But it isn't the best style for every student and those who instruct need to be aware there are different best methods for different students. There are multiple intelligences in every class and the more versatile teachers, who are aware of this, will be able to make use of them for individual students.
...50% learn VISUALLY. The rest learn better with a variety of other skills. Make the BEST use of individual learning intelligences...
- A Musical Learner. If you have this learning style high among your multiple intelligences, doing your forms at home to the same piece of music will give you excellent connective hooks. Then if you run that same piece of music through your mind in a class training session, it will help you remember which movement comes next and what intensity and body principles go into it.
A Linguistic Learner. If linguistic skills are high among your multiple intelligences, reading and writing will help you to remember what you were taught. Sometimes you will be able to run what the martial arts teacher said, through your mind, with the same words and expression he used, so you have more time at
home to analyse and understand what you were
taught. You should write questions on forums.
You should teach someone else what you
learnt. The sound of your own voice explaining
it makes it clearer to you. Email or forum
written answers are there for you to go back
over and keep learning from. Or write a website,
like I'm doing. It reinforces your learning and
helps others as well.
A Relational Learner. Since this is one of my three, I must know my teacher well and relate often - quite a trick from the other side of the world. A relational learner takes in the most instruction during personal conversation, one on one tuition, mentoring, and discussion in a class. Someone with this among their highest learning intelligences gets more out of class when relating closely to the teacher and to the other students.
If you are a relational learner though, be careful. Your teacher might be too busy to give you as much one on one time as you would like. Make the most of the times you can talk and learn one on one but remember you are not the only student. The martial arts teacher has to share his available time with all of his students. Relating to more advanced students can go a long way to helping you learn as well.
- A Logical/Mathematical Learner. These are the students who need drawings with directions, lines and numbers to fix the foot positions clearly in their minds. You can easily spot those who have this learning style high among their multiple intelligences. They measure distances, draw lines on the ground and make diagrams with compass points or numbers to help them learn. They can take this map in their mind, put themselves in the middle of a park with no other marker clues, and do their form correctly with all the right positions. If you have logic/mathematical amongst your multiple intelligences, make the best use of it by learning with diagrams.
- An Intrapersonal Learner These students know themselves really well. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know their limitations. They know how the correct movement makes them feel and react. They are self-aware people. It's no use asking me about the best style to learn if you are one of these. I usually don't know I've broken a finger until several weeks after the event when I finally get it Xrayed. A self smart learner takes in just enough, processes it and comes for more when they are ready.
- A Naturalistic Learner If this is high among your multiple intelligences, you are most likely training in a park where the trees, water and wildlife around you open your mind to take in what you are learning more easily. When you are in harmony with nature, you are alive. Your brain works better. Your body responds in a more relaxed way. If you are a naturalistic learner, you might not last long in a squashy dojo in the middle of a city. That really doesn't do it for you.
So find some of those readily available "multiple intelligences" or "learning intelligences" tests on the internet. Do some of them, and be honest with the answers. Don't try to get the outcome you hope for. Do enough of them so that it becomes very clear which learning styles you lean towards. Then use the understanding to improve your martial arts training. Remember, you can't change the way your teacher prefers to teach, so put some homework into your training that suits your individual style and you won't feel so dumb in class next week.
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My major intelligence is Self (Intrapersonal Learner.) Language, Body Movement, Spatial and Social Learning are all tied for second; and Nature is third....
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