Modern Students and Instructors

There are many modern martial artists who love nothing more than to speak ill of modern martial arts students. I do not like to follow this line of thinking. But, for the purposes of discussion, (feel free to email and discuss any topics with me, as some of you already do), I am going to examine the thought processes, and offer, if I may, some possible reasons, and perhaps a solution, depending on where this leads. I have written often, in the past, of the paranoia of the high ranking martial artists. This paranoia is exhibited in many ways. Some of this type of high ranking martial artist deny the rank of black belt to deserving students. Others promote themselves beyond all reason to ever more inflated ranks. And then there are those who will disparage and slander the low ranking, beginner, or modern student. One must look carefully at the people who are doing the talking in this case, as you will find them to be martial arts instructors.  In this situation, I must say quite honestly, “teach better”. If the problem is that the students of today are not as good as they were when you were a student, then perhaps you should send them to your instructor.  For, if the point that the modern student is inferior, as far as quality goes, when compared to the students of a few generations back, we must look first to the quality of instruction. For even the most old of the “old school” martial artists would never want to try to claim that the students of today are less capable learning than those of the past, for it is simply not true. One need only look at how computer savvy the youth of today are to see that they are very capable of learning.  If I were to guess what point of argument would come next, I would suppose that the instructor taking the position against the modern student might follow my counterpoint with a comment about the modern student not being incapable of learning, so much as being less capable of movement. The modern students are lazy, the argument goes.  I don’t believe that modern children are any more lazy than students in the past were. I have students who are lazy, and students who are not. And even among the students who are lazy, it depends on how much they like what they are doing. I have seen students who would not do anything for me in class, who will play basketball for five hours straight after school is out. So it really has to do with motivation.  So to the comment about the laziness must be met with the original point I made. If the instructor is a capable instructor, they should be able to make the lessons interesting enough that the student WANTS to learn. If the student is enjoying what they are doing, the energy will be there. I have seen this too many times to believe otherwise.  Now, am I saying that it is easy to find ways to motivate every student? No way on earth! It is work, but if you choose to be a martial arts instructor, you must be willing to work.  There  are, of course, those martial arts instructors who are instructors because they cannot do anything else. But there are those who would not do anything else. They are the instructors who are constantly looking to improve their game. The sad part is, it is usually the instructors who cannot do anything else that do the complaining, looking for outside reasons as to why their students are not very good.