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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28901
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:42 pm    Post subject: Teaching Your Students to Deal With Failure Reply with quote

Martial Arts is recognizable to the lay person as the punching, kicking, and grappling skills that are often time displayed on the mat, sometimes in a local tournament venue, or in a larger, professional venue. Often times, the exposure comes through entertainment in the form of movies.

However, to those of us who are entrenched in the practice of the Martial Arts, know there is so much more to the study of the styles than this. The intrinsic rewards of working hard for the sake of some self-improvement that would be unobservable to the lay person that doesn't participate.

Those of us who have been around a while, who are well down the road of our MA journey, have come to truly appreciate those moments, as they truly happen less and less the longer we train. It's the law of diminishing returns in action.

What the seasoned Martial Arts practitioner understands is that along this journey, there will be ups and downs. Indeed, there will be success, and there will inevitably be failure. Most seasoned Martial Artists understand that failure will happen from time to time, and we've learned to take these moments in stride, pick ourselves up off the mat, and continue to train and move forward. Most importantly, we learn from them.

Why do we fail at times? It is because we choose to take risks as Martial Arts practitioners. We enter a competition, or attempt a grading. These events come with inherent risk, no matter how often or how much we have prepared for them. The classroom floor even provides opportunities to take risks every day we train, and failure can happen. However, in the classroom setting, the consequences are much less; it only happens in front of your fellow students, and may lead to no more than a lengthy explanation being made by an instructor or senior student about what happened, why, and how to move forward and get better.

But on the tournament scene, or in a grading, the failure is different. It could cost you a match, and be the difference between fighting in the finals and going home early. At a grading, it could be the difference between advancing a rank or not. And to top it off, these failures tend to happen in more of a public eye, with more than just your typical classmates around. Needless to say, and experience like this early on in a student's career, if not approached in the proper manner and with the right mindset, can be quite detrimental to the inexperienced Martial Artist.

So, the question is, how do we, as instructors, teach our students to deal with failure? I think there are a myriad of ways we can approach this matter, without necessarily setting them up for failure in order to experience and learn from it (which could be quite detrimental).

It's a tougher road to hoe for instructors, as teaching a student to deal with and overcome failure is much more of a mental exercise than it is a physical one. Sure, physical practice can help to shore up weaknesses in technique, kata performance, etc., but it may not necessarily rebuild lost confidence or negative thinking. Along with physical training, it is important to try to foster a positive mental attitude, even in the face of failure. Foster an attitude of risk taking. Quoting Loren Christensen, "failure is the act of not taking a risk at all."

Just talking with students about their experiences up their current point of training is a good way to get feedback on how they feel about their training so far. Ask them what they feel comfortable with, and what they don't. Asking about what goes through their mind before a testing can be helpful. Reinforcing their confidence is very important. Even more so, is teaching the students to examine themselves and reinforce their own confidence. After all, it's their journey, and they should take control of it.

Another simple exercise is to ask students about their successes and failures. Ask about something successful, and ask them to describe what they can remember about it. Then ask them about a time when they thought they failed, and ask them what they learned from it. Then focus on that learning process, and how they can use it as motivation moving forward. Failure can be very focusing. Use this as an opportunity to get a student to focus themselves.

This ended up being a bit of ramble, but I hope it inspires some conversation!
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Ruler of Demacia
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 24 May 2021
Posts: 1
Location: 15 Eucumbene Dr, Caroline Springs VIC
Styles: Shito-ryu Karate, Kyokushin Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo

PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2021 9:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Teaching Your Students to Deal With Failure Reply with quote

I think we need to teach our students to understand in competition that you are much more likely to lose than win. That losing in competition is the opportunity to go back on your training and reflect on what you wanted to do and if you achieved those goals.

When I compete, I focus much more on my goals and what I want to achieve during the competition, rather than being so hellbent on winning. Winning is great of course, but I find it much more important to set short goals during the competition (my kicks need to be much sharper; my pivoting needs to be faster and more stable and still after completing technique) etc. You are more likely to win if you are more focused on achieving goals than stressing on whether you won or not.

Students should be taught that losing is natural and you can't win all the time. It isn't the end of the world if you lose, but rather a positive. When going to competition, you should be confident that you have put in enough training and if it doesn't work, it happens. Give it another shot when you have improved your specific weaknesses and cultivated your strengths, setting new goals.

At the end of the day, set goals during your competitions and focus more on achieving those goals rather than just being so focused on winning and have a good time doing it.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28901
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2021 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to KF, Ruler of Demacia! Those are all great points. Set the goals, and go about achieving them; what happens along side is gravy.
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1868

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2021 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is only two ways to deal with failures in martial arts and in everything else. It isnít complicated to do and most people donít realize it. One can either give up and quit or learn from the failure and keep trying until one is successful. instant success without effort rarely ever happens. People who are good at things got that way because they understood their failures and used them to their advantage.

With anyone, but young people in particular, a good way to help them deal with failures is to encourage determination. As a teacher or senior, draw attention on what they got right and ask them where they think they fell short. Once the reason/root of the failure is clear, focus on that part until they improve. After that it is only a question of putting in enough practise to get it right.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15407
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2021 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't win them all. No student is going to succeed at everything and every time whenever it comes to the MA; be up front with your students. I've Senior Dan Ranked students that have not fully matured in their MA yet, but they will in time, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

With failure, comes success. They go hand in hand. Can't have one and not the other.

It's how the CI address any failure about themselves. Can't help any student to understand how to deal with any failure if the CI can't deal with any of their own failures.

Encourage the student that no matter what happens, the sun will rise and the new day will come no matter what. Comfort them in the best way you know during the transition from failure to success, which comes with training with a positive purpose.

Teach them:

>Be nice to yourself
>Allow yourself to be sad
>Remind yourself that everyone fails
>Look for the lesson
>What is now possible because you failed?
>At least you did something
>See failure as a step closer to success, not a step back
>Use your dreams to re-energise you
>Deal with your first reaction
>Put it all in perspective
>Don't compare yourself to others
>Take positive next steps

This might also help:

>The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing
>Failure is success if we learn from it
>I have not failed
>Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts
>Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit




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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28901
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2021 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spartacus Maximus wrote:
There is only two ways to deal with failures in martial arts and in everything else. It isnít complicated to do and most people donít realize it. One can either give up and quit or learn from the failure and keep trying until one is successful. instant success without effort rarely ever happens. People who are good at things got that way because they understood their failures and used them to their advantage.

With anyone, but young people in particular, a good way to help them deal with failures is to encourage determination. As a teacher or senior, draw attention on what they got right and ask them where they think they fell short. Once the reason/root of the failure is clear, focus on that part until they improve. After that it is only a question of putting in enough practise to get it right.


Great points!
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Nidan Melbourne
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 21 Aug 2013
Posts: 2275
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Styles: Goju-Ryu, BJJ, Balintawak Arnis

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me as an Instructor; I teach my students that failure is the greatest teacher that they could ever have.

Yes passing all the time is great and all, but the amount of pressure on you just builds. And you lose sight of what is important.

I place more importance on personal growth over a pass/failure mark. In a way, i'd rather them enjoy the journey
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28901
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nidan Melbourne wrote:
For me as an Instructor; I teach my students that failure is the greatest teacher that they could ever have.

Yes passing all the time is great and all, but the amount of pressure on you just builds. And you lose sight of what is important.

I place more importance on personal growth over a pass/failure mark. In a way, i'd rather them enjoy the journey
I absolutely agree with this sentiment. Failures tend to really stand out to us, and we can use them as stepping stones to the next levels of success.

I want to thank everyone who has resurrected this thread and chimed in on it here recently. It's really wonderful to me to see some conversation start up from it!
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