Teaching a Relative in Martial Arts

Teaching a Relative in Martial Arts
One of the hardest things I've ever had to do in training is trying to train a relative. It doesn't matter what generation, I've tried them all from my parents to my spouse to my child. Teaching a relative can be tricky -- but often, it's your relatives that love you enough to come and join in just to be closer to you.

Training a close relation is difficult for several factors. First off, despite popular misconception, we are often hardest on the ones we love. There are many out there that believe because this person is your relative and thus have access to you even outside of the dojo, there are some special training that you can receive and a chance to ask questions at any time – thus, an unfair advantage to learning over other students.

Training isn't a competition or race. Granted, my relatives have more access to me during off hours. But off hours is also my time off and most of my relatives respect that and try not to bring up training too often. They do have more access to me and sometimes are involved in certain discussions and training that are above their level because they are also around me. However, again I stress, this isn't some sort of race to the end and those that treat it this way will find themselves disappointed when there is no end.

Secondly, some relatives expect more or expect to get away with more simply because they are related. They may act up in class and expect you will not discipline them in front of others. They may forget protocol and speak to you as they would normally. The key to dealing with this is to talk to your relative before they start and set clear expectations. If they don't meet those expectations, they should be expected to be treated the same as any other students. From time to time, you may have to remind them of this to keep things in line.

If anything, relatives that I train are held to much higher expectations – not only from me but also from others. Because I know in a more intimate way what my relative is capable of, I tend to push them harder to reach those limits. Also again, others assume since they are my relative they have more access to information and thus should be that much better.

So some simple tips to get you through training your relative:

  • Set clear expectations before they start to train. Continue to reiterate those expectations and reaffirm them between the two of you.
  • Make sure to ask yourself before pushing, if you're doing it because you know them or would you do the same for any other student.
  • And finally, if you find you can't handle it, consider asking someone else to step in and be their instructor. There is no shame in realizing your limits and getting others to help.

Ultimately, however, having a close relation participate in something you love is one of the best bonding experiences you can have with them.

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