Teaching Power and Control In Today’s Market

It’s a fact that in every school, and in every age group there are members who enjoy a little contact, there are also those who fear it. This is a challenge for instructors, because all students should be held to the same standard, which creates a rock and a hard place scenario for those in charge of teaching. Both the excited and the fearful have their own reasons, but to help students grow they must be pushed outside of their comfort zones.

If you back off too much, you will dilute the combat effectiveness of your training, and if you rush the students who are hesitant to make contact, you will soon notice your attrition rates getting worse.

So what is an instructor to do? Fortunately the answer is simple and can be integrated in to teaching students control. Let your students hit you, and you must hit them back. Now let me say that again, let your students hit YOU, and YOU must hit them back. Too often trust is put in to the hands of the students who have not matured enough to have the control to build power gradually.

If you are worth you weight as an instructor you should be able to take the hit and look straight in to the students eyes and let them know what they just did was ok. Then return a hit that you know your student can withstand, but make it strong enough to test them. This process will take time, and the ability to read your students, but it will be worth it. After you have handled each student individually and they understand your idea of controlled power, let them work together. Have your students reach out and place their fist or foot on their partner checking range, then have them reach out and lightly pop their partner, then 25% power, then 50% and so on, stopping once everyone and their partner find a place that they can train taking hits continuously without injury.

Grooming the animal inside your student takes pressure and nurturing, patience and persistence. I have taken low cost trial programs at many studios and seen high ranked students training way outside of any sort of effective range. This is dangerous, as training too far out will make their techniques useless in a real defensive situation. Be sure your students are striking at each other in a manner where if the student assigned the defensive technique does not execute the technique, he or she will get hit. Do not send students out of your facility with false confidence, for there is no greater failing for an instructor.

Do not baby your students, care for them and treat them as if they will be attacked at a time where you will not be there to coach them. Because that’s the truth of the matter. Help them program in these techniques under positive pressure so that no matter how far they make it in your ranks, they will gain life saving skill by the time they leave you. Almost every art has a discipline of internal power, the training that protects your organs and helps you regain your composure when the S&@t hits the fan, do not neglect it. Your students need you, so hit them! Trust them to understand the higher principals at an early stage in training at least in some facet. If they do not understand it is your job to find the words that make sense to them.

Be sure you are working on conditioning your members mentally and physically. Think to yourself, how does one of my black belts compare to a black belt from the school across the tracks. How does one of my under belts compare? What can I do to be sure that my students are prepared to face someone of a higher skill. One answer is obvious, conditioning. Be sure that you challenge your members, build that iron shirt, harden those hands and quicken those reflexes. You are their lifeline you are their mentor.

I worked my way through a system that only cared about combat effectiveness. My master was brought in on a six month contract to work with the US Navy Seals to give them a fresh perspective on hand to hand skills, so I rest assured knowing what I learned is quality. His system works, however the meat and potatoes of most martial arts schools market to children and teens. My friends and I started training under him as teenagers and Master Greg beat us because he loved us and it was only with the support of my peers that I gained the strength to push through and earn my black belt and my second degree.

Still most instructors and school owners are catering to the entitled and the affluent, who could not stand watching their little son or daughter take the shots they need to prepare them to defend their life. My advice stands, build gradually, hold everyone to the same standard, teach internal power, and learn who the hard chargers are in your school. Create a class or a program that gives the aggressive ones a chance to let the beast out, and find a way to nurture that same beast in your more delicate students. Never compromise combat effectiveness, because I assure you, all you need to do is find a way to teach it that you haven’t yet thought of.


Sifu Cory Riojas
Defensive Fundamentals System
Carlsbad, CA

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

Have an idea? Want us to publish your post? Contact us and we will get back to you ASAP.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt