kata art

Intelligent Training

These are the nine types of intelligence and why they are so important to understand in any arena of training which requires physical movement.

There is that one student and you know who I am talking about.  Over and over the instructor has to demonstrate something they should already know by everyone else’s standard.  Just when the class is told a bit of information they raise their hand and ask a question about what was just stated.

Frustration. Grumbles. 

Why doesn’t the student get it?  We’ve shown them this form/move/sequence of steps a million times yet they still look like they’re falling all over themselves.  Don’t they care?  Are they even trying?

Instead of becoming frustrated, I would implore you to invite the possibility that maybe this arena is not where they learn the best.  To be more understanding that while you may learn by doing the movement, seeing the movement, hearing the instruction, or a combination of those, it might not be so for every student there.  

While most people who are active in the arena of martial arts/sports/or the like fall into the bodily-kinesthetic arena, there are eight other types of intelligence which have nothing to do with movement.  If this is your strong point then you are in good company but let’s take a minute to look at a few others and how you may help these students learn to be more bodily oriented.

Mathematical-Logical:  Imagine you’re trying to teach Spock why he should learn a form.  What is its purpose?  Why should I do this?  What do these movements mean?  How will they be useful to me?  While other students may be content with just learning the sequence they would like to know they details of the why.  They may ask more questions, need a diagram, or an opponent to understand the movements and their purpose.  

Spatial: These types may not fully understand until they have time to draw a diagram or need some sort of wooden mannequin in certain positions to examine a stance or foot position.  In chemistry, the use of small interactive molecule is often used to understand the relationship of one atom to the next and how the bonds are formed.  It can be difficult to understand with just your imagination how hydrogen and oxygen interact on a subatomic level.  Similarly, it maybe difficult for someone to understand how the body moves on a macroscopic level and could use a miniature version they can hold to fully grasp a movement.  It may also be helpful to them if tape or some other marker is put on the floor so their awareness of where their feet should be is more clear.  ‘A wide stance’ can mean a variety of distances depending on the person.  Also, breaking down each movement step by step and allowing them to see it from multiple angles is a useful way for them to fully grasp what you are showing them.

Interpersonal:  Our emotions usually come out through the smallest of gestures in our faces and little mannerisms we so often do without realizing.  This is what this person’s focus and understanding shine. When they watch a demonstration they might look at the face instead of the extremities.  Notice the relationship between the instructor and the student helping him to demonstrate a technique.  Do they get along?  How are they feeling?  Oh no, he looks like he is in a lot of pain from that.  For them it is about emotion and how one person interacts with them or other people. If you are paired with them it might take more reassurance they they did not, in fact, injure you for life and it is ok.  Their interpretation of your mood may not always be accurate and can cause them to close off if they perceive an emotion toward them which makes them feel uncomfortable. Simply, calmly check in with them if you happen to notice a shift in their tone of voice or other nonverbal cues.  At first it might be difficult for them to adjust, but with patience and consistency it can become easier for that person to focus more on technique.  

Be kind. Be patient.  We’re all here to learn.  Enjoy your training. :)


Alive - Sia (putting traditional martial arts in mainstream frik yeah!)

All martial artists on here will understand what I mean when I say that this little frikin’ earth bender is martial artist goals (also daughter goals if I have one). She has what people spend years upon years trying to achieve- her movements are clean and powerful, and she has a masterful snap and good relaxation-tension balance/ flow. On top of that, she hits one of the most powerful Pyung Ahn Sam Dans around 3:40 that I have ever seen- a form that I only learned this year myself. I want to be this good.

Some challenging ways to practice forms

Here are a few methods of practicing forms that really help you understand the form.

Hands only- keep your feet planted and work only through the blocks and strikes of your form. This is an excellent way of seeing exactly what you do with your hands during the form as well as challenging your understanding of the form.

Footwork only- with your hands at elbow position or on guard work through all the stances, kicks, and turns of the form. Poor footwork is very common in many forms, this will help to clean up your movements and build fluidity.

Mirror- flip your turns and use the opposite hands and feet for all blocks and strikes. This will help to solidify your understanding of the form. Added bonus it’s fun to watch if you are training with friends.

Blindfolded- cover or close your eyes and perform the form. Make sure you record your form to see if you did it right, this will help to build your muscle memory.

Backwards- Finally put your knowledge to the ultimate test, run your form from the end to the beginning.