Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good Teacher Good Student

I heard recently someone say about an instructor, "this guy is so good that he can take an average student and make him a world champion." I wondered at that point, did the person saying this even understand what they were saying or talking about?

Let's look at this. If someone can take an average student and make them a world champion, does that mean if you are a below average student, he will just make you average? What if the person saying this didn't even realize their own level and they were actually below average? Wait what is "average" anyhow? Why is so much of the emphasis being put on the instructor? What about the student?

If that original statement was true, what about this statement, "this student is so good, an average teacher could make him a world champion." Could that not also be the case as well? Can't an excellent student get very far with a poor teacher? Maybe one could argue an excellent student could get further with a poor teacher, than a poor student could get with an excellent teacher.

I think the student is more important than the teacher. In athletics, I have seen every coach talk about their athletes working hard on the off-season. Working hard on their own. Putting in time on their own. Like Kobe and Michael Jordan who kept shooting long after practice was over. They always put the ownership on the student, on the athlete. Who has that kind of work ethic? Only a few people, and they came to that coach with that work ethic already there.

Is Iowa wrestling, Iowa wrestling because of the coaching? Or is it what it is because it is a collection of excellent athletes? There may be other schools with coaches just as dedicated and good but do they have the same number of excellent athletes?

When you hear coaches talk about why their fighters are doing so well, or their athletes do so well, you often hear that they are a great athlete, easily coachable, a good student of the game, learn so quickly, etc. They are not saying what they are showing them is so out of the ordinary, they are saying their student is out of the ordinary, they way they apply it is out of the ordinary. In MMA, Greg Jackson's school had been around forever. Their best guy for a long time was Diego Sanchez. It was only after GSP started training there did they get all the other stars and big names. And Greg will tell you, he never had an athlete and student like GSP. GSP came in as a good student. Same with Jon Jones. Or what about American Kickboxing Academy, also been around for ages. They had good guys, but when Cain showed up, Javier said they had never seen someone work as hard and so tirelessly on technique and so easily coachable as him. Now he's their best guy. They all put the onus on the student. 

Work ethic, drive, determination, motivation, aptitude, knowledge, application - all these factors the student puts in, the instruction and coaching seems like a small part. Because at the end of the day in BJJ when you are sparring against someone, it's really just you and them and no one can save you out there except yourself.

The best student becomes the best guy and makes the teacher look good. Freddie Roach always says, it's not that he's so good, Manny just makes him look really good. A poor chef can make a decent meal with good ingredients. A great chef cannot make a decent meal with poor ingredients.

I think with having an instructor, it's your relationship with your instructor that is most critical. 

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