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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14453
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:58 pm    Post subject: Syllabus; WAY TOO LONG!?!? Reply with quote

Often times, students express their distain feelings over the depth of the syllabus that their dojo has..."Does the syllabus have to be so long?!?", is their chief complaint.

I do understand their concerns without equivocation!

However, please allow me a moment to express my point of view over this concern.

While the syllabus might appear to be quite involving, and oftentimes unnecessary, it's important to realize that the style of the MA, that the student's training in of owns own volition, is at its required length for a valid reason(s), whether the student likes it or not.

Let's look at the overly involving syllabus in general. The syllabus is a vitally important element of said MA style. So much so, that without the syllabus, the concise whole would be lost to the students improving MA betterment.

Yes, Bruce said..."Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own." May I stress that's admirable across the board, however, while the student is a student AT said dojo, the syllabus must be followed to the letter. I believe that the syllabus is that MA styles blueprint, and to deter away from it for ambiguous reason(s) drastically affects even the effectiveness of what that styles MA founder believed in wholeheartedly.

"I just don't understand why our dojo's syllabus is so long!!" says the frustrated student.

May I approach this from another angle; please bear with me.

Remember, the student chose the MA style, and all that that includes willingly. The chosen MA style is akin to choosing a car; both have to be dependable. The syllabus is nothing more than another tool, however, an important tool that the CI utilizes with an unnerving precision to teach with and from. What the student does on their own, is the students business.

So, we've the long drawn out syllabus and a car. Both are tools. One gets you hopefully a valued MA education, while the other gets you hopefully from place to place. Let's look at that car, for a moment. It's literally where the rubber meets the road as far as it's intriguing purpose; it's that very thin line from being a car driver or a pedestrian.

That car, that the students driving around is a mechanical wonderment; hard to live without it in ones life. Now let's look at YOUR own car/truck. That very car/truck is composed of literally thousands of all types of parts. The more that industry improves that which takes us from place to place, the more types of parts that are being put into that vehicle masterpiece.

Now, there stands before you...your pride and joy...your means of transportation...your car/truck. Whenever you need to go somewhere, it's there ready to take you wherever you need to go to in a moments notice. Thousands of parts making your car/truck operate like that fine tuned instrument.

But what good is your car/truck if it experiences a mechanical breakdown?! Not much; looks good looking at it, but you bought that car/truck to drive, and not to just look at it. If the breaks go out or the transmission goes out or the fuel system goes out or if the electrical system goes out or the engine goes out or whatever else can break on your car/truck. But that's to be expected because mechanical things wear out...things break. Wait, what if you had a flat or ran out of gas, who's fault is that? Not the car/truck, but your's alone.

Let's take it one more step. What use is your car/truck if YOU purposefully remove just one of the thousands of parts it takes it to run?? Take a wheel off; what good will that do?! Take the battery out; what good will that do?! Take the steering wheel off; what good will that be?! Take the brakes off; what good will that be?! Take one of the myriad of computers off; what good will that be?! Each and every part found and/or discovered in your car/truck is there for a very good reason, no matter how insignificant it might seem to be.

That long drawn out syllabus is like it is because the MA styles founders and/or the CI and/or the Governing Body decided it's importance. Just like the engineers decided to put all of those thousands of parts into the car/truck that the motoring public drives around. The syllabus length is as crucial as those thousands of parts that allow your car/truck to run in tiptop shape.

Take one of the legs off the chair; what are you left with?! An unstable, as well as incomplete chair. Take something out of the syllabus; what are you left with!? A possible ineffective proponent of the MA. Take just one part from your car; what are you left with?! A possible wreck waiting to happen.

Each and every part that's found in your car/truck is as vitally important and critical as it is found in your syllabus!!

What Bruce spoke about, is one thing, but only for when the time is favorable, if at all. Until that time, I'd rather have all of those parts [techniques], because one never knows when they might come in quite handy; better to have more than enough than to have not enough.

So, before the student starts wishing for a much more deftly cropped syllabus, try to remember that what's in the syllabus is there for a good reason.

After that, it's just not that important!!

Did the student chose that particular MA style for effective knowledge and experience, or for rank?!

Train hard and train well in the syllabus for cause!!



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singularity6
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2017
Posts: 958
Location: Michigan
Styles: Jidokwan Taekwondo and Hapkido, Yoshokai Aikido, ZNIR Iaido, Kendo

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an instructor (of math, of course,) I am frequently grappling with the perception of others. Like martial arts, math is a subject that takes a lot of time, hard work, dedication, and the mastery of one skill in order to move on to the next.

Syllabi in my courses are among the earliest impressions a student will have in my courses. They are often the only impression my administration may have of my courses. That being said, I need to make sure my syllabi are readable, clear, concise, and at the same time, detailed. To manage this, I have various organizational techniques (that may vary from class-to-class.) Breaking up the information into chunks and careful choice of language are common to all these techniques, however.

Content is essential, but packaging is key!
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5th Geup Jidokwan Tae Kwon Do/Hap Ki Do

(Never officially tested in aikido, iaido or kendo)
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14453
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

singularity6 wrote:
As an instructor (of math, of course,) I am frequently grappling with the perception of others. Like martial arts, math is a subject that takes a lot of time, hard work, dedication, and the mastery of one skill in order to move on to the next.

Syllabi in my courses are among the earliest impressions a student will have in my courses. They are often the only impression my administration may have of my courses. That being said, I need to make sure my syllabi are readable, clear, concise, and at the same time, detailed. To manage this, I have various organizational techniques (that may vary from class-to-class.) Breaking up the information into chunks and careful choice of language are common to all these techniques, however.

Content is essential, but packaging is key!

Solid post!!

May I ask you a question, instructor to instructor...

Have you ever had a student(s) ever express their distain over the length of your syllabi?? If so, how did you explain it, its length??



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Nidan Melbourne
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 21 Aug 2013
Posts: 2203
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Styles: Goju-Ryu, BJJ, Balintawak Arnis

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We haven't had any issues with the length of our syllabus. With the exception of those having transitioned from our Juniors to Seniors Program.

That being due to the fact that we have extra requirements aka introduce harder "curriculum" than in comparison to our juniors. So we commence testing + teaching Bunkai at 5th Kyu (Green Belt).

So if we have a student transfer at 5th Kyu w/ 3 tags (we test Bunkai + Pre-arranged at 4th tag). They will take a lot longer to pass their test to receive their 4th tag, due to the learning phase that is required of them.

Although other than that, I feel like our syllabus for all students to be reasonable.

Which I believe is due to the fact we gradually introduce different things (kihon, kata etc) at different times. So instead of throwing everything at them at once, they'll learn and becoming accustomed to it first prior to us throwing more at them.
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2379
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
singularity6 wrote:
As an instructor (of math, of course,) I am frequently grappling with the perception of others. Like martial arts, math is a subject that takes a lot of time, hard work, dedication, and the mastery of one skill in order to move on to the next.

Syllabi in my courses are among the earliest impressions a student will have in my courses. They are often the only impression my administration may have of my courses. That being said, I need to make sure my syllabi are readable, clear, concise, and at the same time, detailed. To manage this, I have various organizational techniques (that may vary from class-to-class.) Breaking up the information into chunks and careful choice of language are common to all these techniques, however.

Content is essential, but packaging is key!

Solid post!!

May I ask you a question, instructor to instructor...

Have you ever had a student(s) ever express their distain over the length of your syllabi?? If so, how did you explain it, its length??




I’ll answer as a former student - bachelor’s degree and 2 master’s degrees...

EVERY syllabus I’ve ever looked at was very overwhelming. Every single one I got, I thought “how am I possibly going to get all of this work done?” Every syllabus, every time. You’d think I’d have gotten used to it with all the college courses I’ve taken. Nope. Never.

But I always got it done. And it was never half as bad as I thought it would be. Except two classes. They were actually worse than I thought they’d be. Nutrition and Essentials of Literature. So much busy work for seemingly no purpose other than getting a lot of grades into a book in an attempt to justify their new job to whoever reviews this stuff. Rookies.
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2379
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As to the original post...

Bruce Lee said keep what you need and discard the rest, and he was absolutely correct. But there’s a hitch - you need a ton of experience before you truly know what to keep and what to discard. A few years of training isn’t nearly enough to fully understand what genuinely works and what doesn’t. There’s no substitute for experience.

This reminds me of my grade 4-8 science students. They all want to “think outside the box.” The problem is they haven’t really learned to think inside the box. Without a solid understanding of what they’re learning, they can’t move on to critical thinking and application. They’re not going to understand why a rollercoaster goes all the way around the track without a motor if they don’t understand what momentum means and exactly how momentum works. Momentum = mass x velocity. If they don’t understand mass and/or velocity, they won’t get it. If they discard any part of it because it’s insignificant, doesn’t work, etc., what are they really going to know?

Going to the black belt criteria thread, a shodan is a person who’s proficient in the basics. He/she can demonstrate them and apply them in a functional manner. Once this has been achieved, they can start looking at what works and what doesn’t, and making the art their own. They can start that critical thinking and analysis, and start “thinking outside the box.” Not at a genuinely high level, but enough to say so. I’ve heard shodans are the white belts of black belts quite a few times, and having been there in the past, I agree.

Without a truly solid understanding of the basics, you can’t possibly understand what works and what doesn’t. It takes time. It takes experience.

There’s a great saying in photography that definitely holds true in MA - learn the rules of photography. Master them. After you’ve got them mastered, learn how and when to break them.

Picasso wouldn’t have been able to revolutionize art if he didn’t truly understand the basics. Einstein wouldn’t have revolutionized science and math if he didn’t understand the basics. Bruce Lee wouldn’t know what to keep and what to discard if he didn’t understand the basics.
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singularity6
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2017
Posts: 958
Location: Michigan
Styles: Jidokwan Taekwondo and Hapkido, Yoshokai Aikido, ZNIR Iaido, Kendo

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
singularity6 wrote:
As an instructor (of math, of course,) I am frequently grappling with the perception of others. Like martial arts, math is a subject that takes a lot of time, hard work, dedication, and the mastery of one skill in order to move on to the next.

Syllabi in my courses are among the earliest impressions a student will have in my courses. They are often the only impression my administration may have of my courses. That being said, I need to make sure my syllabi are readable, clear, concise, and at the same time, detailed. To manage this, I have various organizational techniques (that may vary from class-to-class.) Breaking up the information into chunks and careful choice of language are common to all these techniques, however.

Content is essential, but packaging is key!

Solid post!!

May I ask you a question, instructor to instructor...

Have you ever had a student(s) ever express their distain over the length of your syllabi?? If so, how did you explain it, its length??




I have at one of my previous institutes. And they were right! The course coordinator had a lot of draconian rules, along with a very lengthy detailed schedule in the syllabus. When distributing it to my students, I separated the schedule from the syllabus, making it two separate documents (each being about 4-5 pages front and back.)

From then on, I've always tried to keep things "chunked" up. Including a detailed schedule of the whole course doesn't make much sense.

I do not know what your syllabus entails. I suspect that there might be some ways of breaking it up. Have a brief outline for each rank, maybe? Then provide students with further details as they progress? When my wife and I started in our school, they gave us the curriculum up through 4th geup (blue belt.) It's still several pages long, and 3 years ago, it looked like a lot of information. I'd imagine the syllabus through 1st geup is at least as long as the one I have!
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1729

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Concerns about the length of the curriculum is just another distraction for students. As a student it is better and more productive to focus on the present. Progress will come eventually if one keeps training diligently and applying one self to practise each technique and concept thoroughly.

If the purpose is to become proficient in applying the techniques it does not matter how much one knows. What matters is how well one knows it, and how well one can use it. In general, experience has shown that the longer a student been training, the less they care about the length of the curriculum or how much there is left to learn. The truth is, it never ends.

Student question: What else is there to learn?
Sifu/sensei/instructor’s answer: much.
Student question 2: the curriculum is so long! It’ll take a lifetime to learn all that!
Sifu/sensei/instructor’s answer 2: Aha! Now you’re starting to understand.

Karate or any martial art was never meant to be learned quickly. Anyone can go through the curriculum in a short time no matter what it is. Going through each part in depth and actually taking the time it takes to develop skill is a different thing.
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Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2434
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have had a number of people complain about the length of our syllabus--not just overall, but for each individual rank. We recently went through a revamping of the syllabus, which actually added a few more things. I've heard INSTRUCTORS say that they would rather have less on the syllabus to avoid trying to make students "jacks of all trades, master of none" (nevermind the fact that the full phrase is "better to be a jack of all trade, master of none, than a master of one"). It's disheartening. To me, all a long syllabus means is that it might take you longer to earn your next rank which, to me, doesn't matter.
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Kishimoto-Di | 2014-Present | Sensei: Ulf Karlsson
Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage, Jeff Allred
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Judo | 2007-2010: Gokyu | Sensei: Joe Walker, Adrian Rivera
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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More is not always better. Conversely less is seldom better.

A syllabus should be designed on what works in the most efficient manner. The length of a syllabus is not as important as what it contains and whether is has been tried and tested in creating quality martial artists.

To me this is a black and white matter. This is what it takes to get the information needed to the student and thus what is needed to learn the art as it has been passed down. Whether a student feels it is too long is not the issue and needs no explanation.

You either learn it or you don't. the choice ultimately is up to the student. However this is not a choice in terms of changing the syllabus. If proven then it can not be altered. Removing or adding to an art changes the art altogether and thus alters the experience that makes a student into a teacher.

Once alterations are made you set the precedence for future generations and before you know it the art as it was created is lost. Ex. Japanese interpretation of Okinawan martial arts. Whether you think it was damaged or improved doesn't change the fact that it is entirely a different art.

Changes to the original syllabus can be profound.

If it works don't fix it. That's my 2 cents.
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