Previously, I’ve posted about the 7 Killer Reasons to Take Private Lessons. Once you start getting into private lessons, how do you maximize them? In this article, I discuss how to supercharge your private lessons. If you have the opportunity to pursue a private lesson or series of ongoing private lessons, it probably would be a good idea to prepare for the lesson in advance.

When you go on a road trip to an unfamiliar location, it would be prudent to map out the route so that you know how to get there. You wouldn’t get into a car without directions and just drive aimlessly just hoping to find the destination, much less arrive on time, would you? You should apply the same philosophy when approaching a private lesson.

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Screenshot from a video of Master Chuck and I training.

Ideally, you and the instructor should have a plan for the private lesson. Usually I will determine what the student needs to work on or the student may have some questions. Or it can be a combination of both. A private lesson where the instructor and the student are groping in the dark is a recipe, at the worst, for disaster and, at best, an aimless waste of time. So it would behoove you, as the student, to be prepared and to know how to get the most out of a private lesson. Here are some ways to supercharge your private lesson:

(1) Prepare with questions: Either a mental list of questions or better yet, with a notebook with questions. Be detailed with your questions as that will tighten the focus for the lesson. If the instructor asks you what you want to work on, it is not exactly helpful to say “anything/everything.” Remember, it’s better to have a map than not to have a map. 🙂

(2) Take notes afterwards: During the lesson, jot down quick notes that can jog your memory after the lesson ends. Immediately after the lesson, open your note book and write down your notes, especially with new material, a new take on pre-existing material, or tweaks in your technique.

(3) Video the private lesson: Ask the instructor for permission. If utilized properly, this can be a tremendous tool for self analysis. The potential for improvement exponentially increases if you know how to use video editing software to break the video up into slow motion segments. 🙂 I have had numerous privates with Master Chuck Gauss over the years and I have often, with his permission, videoed our sessions, cut them up into slow motion segments to study. This is a tremendous tool in your development as a martial artist.

The legendary Maestro Sonny Umpad often filmed the private lessons with his students and gave them the videos afterwards to study.

(4) Ask for a review at the end: It’s wise to ask the instructor in the last few minutes of a private lesson to review the material that was covered. A review is tremendously useful not only for the student but also for the instructor. The instructor will be able to remember when he taught. I often use my Evernote app to refresh my memory.

(5) Go with the Flow: while you may come prepared with questions, be prepared for the instructor to take the lesson in a different tangent. For example, I may have been watching you in class and determined we need to work on certain material. I may say “Hey, I’ve noticed something that you’ve been doing and I want to work on it.”

(6) Practice the new material: What’s the point of a private lesson if you don’t practice what you have learned? Either visualize the new material on a regular basis or find a training partner to practice the material. This will serve to solidify the lessons learned in the session with the instructor.

For those of you who have participated in private lessons, do you have any tips to add to this list? Let’s hear them!


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