Archive for pedagogy

Sifu Lee on Children & the Martial Arts

Posted in Day's Lesson, Martial Arts, Miscellaneous, Peace & Wellbeing, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2013 by Sifu Freddie Lee

Children Kids Class Education KindergartenI cannot force my children to practice Martial Arts.

That is against the Tao. 

If it comes natural, let it be, if it does not, let it be.  My children will have to exercise, practice good hygiene, eat healthy, and sleep well.  Those are necessities that they have no choice in fulfilling.  We live the healthy way, so my children have no other choice but to follow.  The fridge is only filled with healthy foods, there is nothing else to eat.  It is either eat healthy or starve.

They are forced to brush their teeth and take showers even when they don’t want to, it is a necessity of health and wellness.  The lights go out at a certain time so they have no other choice but to sleep when it is time.  They exercise because there simply is nothing else to do.  We have no cable TV to watch.  We have movies, but movies get old.  They play online games, but eventually they have to stop and move around.  They want to go to the park to play, when they go to the park, that is the beginning of their physical training.  Even at home they are very active running and playfully wrestling.

Activeness is extremely important.  The must be active.  But as far as formal exercise training, like in the beginning stages of Martial Art training, I do not force but I encourage.  They know they will make us happy when they participate, knowing this encourages them to get involved.  I also notice that when other children are around taking the training serious, they tend to get more involved.

Freddie Lee pinterestBrandon loves playing XBox 360.  We have an agreement that if he practices Kung Fu for 1 hour, he can play Xbox, and this agreement is working wonders.  It really motivates him to get involved with the training.  Angelina naturally loves to train and does not need video games as a motivation.  Brandon and Angelina enjoy spending time with me and that is what makes them want to participate.

The kwoon is also separated from our home.  Taking them to the kwoon creates a separate environment that also motivates them.  Staying at home all day makes a child want to get out and be somewhere new.  The kwoon becomes a quick getaway to do something exciting and different, this helps a great deal.  Keo does get involved as well, but he is not as motivated as Brandon and Angelina because he is still a bit young and does not have as much energy as Brandon and Angelina.  Jet is the only one that is unable to participate in anyway because of his extreme lack of focus and attention span.

I see that it is very important not to force the children to learn Martial Arts; they will learn when they are ready.  If they experience great struggle in life, it may encourage them to learn when they wonder why they are having such a difficult time overcoming these struggles.  Sometimes it will take a child getting bullied or beat up in school in order for him to realize that he needs to take action and get started in something like Martial Arts to defend himself when necessary.

It is of absolute necessity that children learn to be healthy and nonviolent.  If they are able to live a peaceful life, they may never find a need to learn Martial Arts at all.  But if they are surrounded by struggle and conflict, Martial Art training may very well end up becoming a necessity.  It depends on each child’s circumstances.  It is not right for a parent to force a child to practice an Art that he/she does not enjoy.

If he would rather play the drums or read, let him do so.  But no matter what he chooses, he must find time to exercise.  Exercise is something that I will always enforce, because him refusing to do so is no other reason than just pure laziness.  When a child is being lazy, you must teach him the way to combat this laziness and become active.  When a child is continuously active, Martial Art training will come on its own natural way that is unforced.


Sifu Freddie Lee

Freddie’s Modern Kungfu. Chicago, IL.

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The West, Still Not Ready | Sifu Lee

Posted in Day's Lesson, Miscellaneous, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2012 by Sifu Freddie Lee

When Bruce was alive, he knew that the West was not ready for real Martial Arts, he was disappointed with the progress of his kwoons, so he decided to close his kwoons to go into acting. Over 40 years later, right now, the West is still not ready for real Martial Arts. I love teaching Martial Arts, but it is almost impossible making a living doing so if you teach it the way that it is truly meant to be taught, I’ve decided to go into field of personal training to make a living. The masses of people just want to lose weight, gain muscle, feel & look good – few of them truly wish to learn real art. Out of 100 people, you will be lucky to find one that has the Martial Spirit within.

People can be taught but they must be ready to listen.  Many are not ready to listen. I love to give, but if I give too much, I will go out of business. Martial Art is not meant for business.  I am truly experiencing the struggles of how to get a Martial Art school to stay completely pure & uncorrupted. You work so hard to find people who have the Martial spirit within them, but then they have no money to pay. Then you find those who have much money but then they are far from being ready to enter into the realm of Martial Arts.

You have to reach out to the right people, but the right people are often times thousands of miles away. I will try to last as long as I can, but eventually I may have to once again become more hidden, working a job to make ends meet, while keeping the spirit of the Martial Arts within me, hidden from the mass of society. The mass of society is not ready for what I have to teach, & during the course of my lifetime, I may never see a time when they are ready. The truth is meant to be hidden; it cannot be exploited & mass produced.

Martial Arts requires thousands of hours of study & training.  How can anyone progress rapidly if they must pay for every hour? It is like a child who must pay you by the hour in order to raise him until the age of 18, he will have to repay you for the rest of his life, or at least take care of you for 18 years in which to break even. It takes time to develop into a Martial Artist, but who has the time to wait? Bruce could not wait. By waiting you are slowing your own development, but forging ahead you are leaving loved ones behind, finding the balance is a difficult thing. I know if I forge ahead there is nowhere to go – Bruce already taught me this. By waiting I can be of great assistance. But I will only wait for those who show appreciation; I will not wait for those who do not appreciate. Some people are ready, some people are not, those who are not, I will not force. When they are ready, they will show me, they will not just tell me.

The pressure is on to make me perform. Without the pressure, I will find no need to perform. Why try hard if you are already living comfortable? When your living conditions are rough, that forces you to work hard, when you work hard you grow. This kwoon can only grow through hard work. Nothing comes easy in this commercialized world. The masses are constantly being bombarded by negative advertisements that it makes it very difficult to see the positive.

Sifu Freddie Lee

[via FMK’s Facebook]

Teaching Kids & Big Kids (Adults)

Posted in Day's Lesson, Miscellaneous, Philosophy, Teaching Topic with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by hybridfightingmethod


You learned in kindergarten.

That is the common maxim touted since I first found myself IN kindergarten.  Being in Ireland right now writing this, I am inspired to reflect upon my past world travels.  In 2000-2002 I spent time teaching kindergarten in southeast China.  My mentor back then, Alex Abdulnour, told me something about teaching kids that I hold very close to my heart to this day.  I believe that this same thing is applicable to teaching adults, as adults are just kindergarteners in bigger clothes.

Apply these concepts and you will become a much better instructor.

He said the following –

They want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.

This I find to be absolutely true.  You need to care about your students.  They can sense when you don’t, or when you are being disingenuous.  Relationships are like bank accounts.  You have to make a deposit before you make a withdrawal.  Before you can expect anything from your students and from people in general, you need to invest and show them you genuinely care.

Have a plan prepared for them or they will have a plan prepared for you…and you won’t like their plan.

Make sure you have a guideline going into class or you will be sorry you didn’t.  Dogs can smell fear.  Students can smell unpreparedness.  You don’t have to stick to the plan exactly – but have at least a skeletal structure in place to navigate your class.

Make them laugh.

Elicit positive emotions and make them feel good.  If you do this, they will connect the concepts you offer with positive emotions.  If you make your students feel good while learning, they are more apt to remember what you taught.

Think to yourself what teachers you remember fondly?  Did they care about you?  Were they prepared?  Did they make you laugh and feel good?

Also, as with everything, be a critical consumer of information (another tidbit given to me by Alex).  Take what I say, and weigh it like you should all incoming information.  Include the concepts in this article into your teaching, and you will have far more success in empowering your students with the information you are communicating.



Teaching Tai Chi Effectively | John Gough

Posted in Taijiquan, Teaching Topic, Training, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2012 by Combative Corner

I learned a very valuable lesson early in my teaching career.

My first class started off as a roaring success. It commenced with twenty students in a hall too small for this number.  However I was delighted with the response and all progressed just fine.  I had a few drop out, as expected, and the class settled at a consistent fifteen. We had started in the September and as we approached holiday season and the long break the atmosphere in the class was very upbeat, so much so the group organized a picnic for our last class. We all had a ball, and everyone was returning the next year.

So on the first class of the following year, all excited, I stood in the hall with three students.

Where had I gone wrong?

After much talk and beating of breast, and analysis, I reached the conclusion
that while the students had enjoyed themselves, however, they had not taken ownership of their Tai Chi.  My challenge!! How do I encourage my students to own their Tai Chi?

Now I would like to share with you something I call, “The Cement“- “Winning the confidence and respect of your students.”

This is the glue that keeps my classes together and everybody winning.  It is easy to say but not so easy to put into action.

This is how I work to achieve it.

I try to Listen to what my students are saying, not only to me but particularly to their fellow participants.  I try to Listen with my ears, eyes, heart and mind, not only to what they are saying but also to their body language, for this really tells me what their real attitude is.  I work to be open and honest in my dealings and what I say at all times.

I Involve my students in as much of the process as possible and encourage them to have their input.

I Encourage them as often as possible and always use positive comments.

I Praise them as a group and especially individually, as this helps them to feel good about themselves and works to build a culture of a positive and welcoming environment.

Laughing often, builds a happy and enjoyable classroom

A Consistent Teaching Method

The Progressive Stepwise Teaching Method works well for me and my students have given me good feedback on my teaching style.

Lead by Example – Practice —

As their teacher it is my responsibility to ensure I am as good as I can be.  If I can get into class before my students arrive I practice.  I want them to see me practicing and I invite them to join in where possible.  Some make a point of coming early so they can.

So how has all of this worked for me?

Well I have started a number of classes since the awakening and I am teaching approximately ninety to one hundred students per week across the TCH menu in Yang and Sun styles, a little qigong, and my classes are located in community halls and private and government organisations.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience with you.

I encourage all of you to enjoy your Tai Chi journey and that of your students. (original video)

John Gough

[Transcribed via Dr. Paul Lam’s YouTube Channel]

[Edited & Posted by: Michael Joyce]


You Can’t Teach Experience

Posted in Day's Lesson, Philosophy, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by chencenter

I just finished reading a terrific blog by a therapist friend of mine (Geoffrey of Stay-Tuned Therapeutics in Flagstaff, Az) and it motivated me to write a similar post of my own.

What an important topic! And unfortunately it is just this, the lack of “experience” that continues to be the bane of our ‘proper’ professionals.  It truly IS what separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.

The fact of the matter, as a ‘Coach’ (which is what I prefer my students call me) I see ‘experience’ as being that which puts most people off… that which leads them to a place of discouragement.  Within one lesson (whether it’s taijiquan, fencing, etc) I’ll inevitably see “The Look” cross over their face… a face that once held a consistent gleam of excitement.

One of the reasons I call myself ‘Coach’ is because I’ve always found it most suitable to what I do.  “Master” always had a distasteful ring to it.  I  remember my first encounter with one of my favorite teachers of all-time, Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming (YMAA), and as a sign of respect I called him “Master Yang.” He just smiled and said, “Call me Dr. Yang, or Teacher,… but call me master and I call you slave.”  Still funny to this day.  Anyway, I digress…

We, as teachers, ‘coach’ our students in a particular thought, a way of doing something, we re-align their bodies to be more bio-mechanically sound and we (hopefully) motivate them and inspire them to practice and refine their skills… but it’s always been helpful to remember that –

Experience is what you get when the teacher walks away.

And for all those students out there that wish to be Jet Li in just a few lessons, or if you’re the intellectual that watches YouTube instructional videos, but never calls up a friend to actually work the techniques… experience is never gained, the brain is only momentarily stimulated and given a false sense of capabilities.  Lesson for today/weekend:

Let’s get some experience.

Michael Joyce


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