Just when I thought the testing was all over for a couple of years, Sensei suddenly announces that I will be taking my Instructor’s assessment on Monday!
Actually it was Monday just gone so I have already done it….but he did suddenly sneak it up on me with about a weeks’ notice. Though the date did arrive rather more quickly than I had anticipated I have actually been preparing for it for a couple of years.
As many readers will know I have been assisting with teaching in our junior class regularly since I became a brown belt. This started with partnering people without a partner, to going through a junior belt syllabus with a couple of kids, to organising pad work, teaching break falling, to teaching kata and basic kumite skills.
The original intention was that I would be assessed for an Assistant Instructor certificate which at the time was available for brown belts who were assisting with the 9th – 4th kyu grades. However, my own black belt training and testing got in the way of thinking about an Assistant Instructor assessment, so it never happened.
Once I became a black belt I moved my focus back to teaching a bit more and my instructor started taking me along to taster sessions that he was giving at local primary schools. I got the chance to teach these young children and we started an after-school club at one of the schools. To give me greater experience my instructor has allowed me to ‘front’ these classes, planning and teaching the classes myself, with him assisting me -a strange feeling that!
Anyway, my instructor decided I was ready to take the Instructors assessment and set the date for last Monday. We decided that it may be best to go for the Club level Instructor (level 2) rather than just Assistant level Instructor (level 1). This will enable me to teach up to 1st dan level and teach independently at some future date if I want to.
The assessment involved teaching both the junior and senior classes on Monday evening. I had to demonstrate knowledge and skill at teaching an entire grade syllabus to the class, chosen at random by my instructor. For the junior class 5th kyu (blue belt) syllabus was chosen and for the senior class the 1st dan syllabus was chosen. Of course I was also being assessed on my ability to organise and control the class, meet individual children’s needs and deal with any discipline issues as they arose.
In addition to the practical teaching there was also a short oral exam where I was questioned about such things as our Association and Governing body structure, ethics and code of behaviour for clubs in the SSK, administration and record keeping, health and safety in the dojo, teaching children and people with special needs, emergencies and first aid and what I need to do to maintain my Instructor’s licence.
All in all I thought it was a comprehensive but fair assessment. I was a bit nervous to start with but after doing a full seiza bow with the junior class and starting the warm up my nerves kind of disappeared and I just got on with it. The kids knew I was being assessed and were wonderfully behaved (as they generally are anyway). Most of the kids I had were red, yellow and orange belts so the blue belt syllabus was a bit new to them – adding to the challenge! This meant that I didn’t complete all sections of the syllabus in the lesson but I wanted to leave time for a game at the end to reward the kids for being so good!
It was then straight into the senior class with another seiza bow and warm up. Most of our 1st kyu students are preparing for their black belt test in December so after I had taken them through the basic kihon sections as a group they disappeared to the back of the hall to practice all their partner work together and with Sensei.
This left me with a group of about 8 children ranging from green to brown belt to take through the 1st dan syllabus – so another challenge! There was no way I was going to cover all 15 sections in the time available so once I had covered all the kihon and kata/bunkai sections, Sensei asked me to skip to the kumite sections. We then had about 15 minutes of jiyu and shiai kumite. I’m not too confident with the refereeing of shiai kumite but I just had to do the best I could with what I know about refereeing, which quite frankly is not a great deal at the moment!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I passed the assessment and I’m now a fully licensed club level karate instructor for the SSK – the first new instructor since the organisation was formed 2 years ago. I feel in no way ready to take on the commitment and responsibility of running an independent club – I still have too much to learn myself.
So for now, I will continue my own training towards nidan, continue assisting my instructor to build up my skills further, continue with the after school club (which I may take on independently next year, with my instructor as mentor, overseer and grading officer) and cover classes when my instructor is away…..it’s all an interesting and challenging part of the journey…..
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