How to Teach Karate Like Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan

In Buenos Aires, there is a common saying that there are two types of people in the world; those that can be a waiter in a restaurant and those that can’t. Hopefully, you never get the opportunity to appreciate a waiter task challenged person. It can turn an expected mundane experience into a frustrating nightmare.

Teaching is the same sort of thing. Some people can teach and some people just can’t seem to do it efficiently so it makes sense. Hopefully, following Sensei Iha’s teaching method you can improve your karate teaching skills. In karate practice most of us discover that karate means continual improvement. 88-year old Sensei Iha has been practicing karate since he was about 12. Yet he still practices kata every day because he says there is still much to learn. (Yes, I took the liberty to start a sentence with a number. That is perfectly good German grammar. English is a Germanic language, so……) So whether someone gets the kata down to our concept of “perfection” today, or tomorrow is really unimportant. The thought is to continually improve.

Pauline Lee, 7th Dan, and a teacher by profession observed and wrote down Sensei Iha’s teaching method in the 2006 NTS 30th Anniversary Celebration Document.

Sensei Iha focuses on movement first:
1. Teach them the movements as you do it with them. Focus on movement so NO corrections!
2. Do it with them, side-by-side, and a fraction of a second behind them. NO corrections!
3. Count kata for them, but don’t do it. Lastly,
4. Ask them to do the kata in front of you, but don’t count, and don’t comment.

Once a person has the kata movement or form, then you start adding comments. Yet you add only one or two comments per session that a person can easily adjust or fix. They feel like they improved (they did) and your are rewarded in seeing that improvement.

While it is hard to do, refrain from presenting a doctoral dissertation on everything you know about how to do the kata correctly. After one or two easy adjustments or corrections the person won’t remember anyow.
Avoid correcting 10 or 12 things as they do their kata because you will just frustrate them and they may stop coming to class. Step-by-step they will make the necessary changes and adjustments.

Sensei Iha says Americans want to learn Karate all at once, but you only learn karate “little by little”.

Thanks for Reading!

Robert Roberto Curtis

Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate (Kobayashi), Kyoshi 8th Dan

Virignia Okinawan Karate Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., Alexandria, VA 22310