Over the years, two common problems, among my students, have stood out to me. First is improper feeding in which the player looks like they are practicing “T-Rex Arnis.” The other problem concerns incorrect footwork. I believe that the “exaggerated movement” method of teaching should be used to address these problems.
The most common issue, especially among kids, is not extending their arm correctly when feeding. They often look like a “t-rex” with shortened arms. The “t-rex” issue may stem from two problems: (1) either a lack of confidence in feeding or (2) not knowing how to feed correctly.
As far as footwork is concerned, some students either don’t move or move in the wrong direction. Many times, they will step into the angle of attack.
“What is this? Do you want to lose your teeth?“
How to address both issues?
I’ve gone back to the past.
More specifically, back to Professor Remy Presas. Many have said that he was a genius at teaching. One approach that I liked was the “exaggerated movement.” He would often exaggerate the angle of attack for either the beginner or for those watching him teach. An example is in the below video.
If you are not able to view the video, click here.
In watching this video, one can see that Professor exaggerated his attacks for teaching purposes. This method allows a student to grasp the angle of attack. Also, the exaggerated motion enabled observers to understand what Professor was teaching.
In teaching the students, I have adopted this approach, particularly with kids. My motions are quite exaggerated and at speeds appropriate to the student’s skill level. With this method, I can teach the students, particularly kids, the correct footwork.
For entertainment’s sake, I will play act characters from the Star Wars movies, complete with sound effects, all done with slow, exaggerated attacks. The kids love it!
This approach works well with those with disabilities, particularly those who have difficulty with gross motor movements.
“Which way do you move against angle 1?“
Kid steps into angle 1.
Exaggerated agony on my part: “Nooooooooooooooooo!“
Kid corrects his/her footwork.
“Here comes angle 1! Move your feet! Woooooosh!“
With feeding, I direct the kids to execute an exaggerated version of the 12 angles of attack. I expect them to incorporate correct footwork as well.
First, I have them execute the 12 angles several times as a group as a diagnostic check. If any of them incorrectly executes an angle, I have them repeat all 12 angles. Once we get through the group exercise, I pair them up for the block, check, counter drill. As an instructor, this is the challenging part. Kid against kid often results in poor feeding.
I have recently begun to experiment with pairing up adults with kids at the Friday night classes at the Harmony Martial Arts Center. The results, not surprisingly, are promising. More on this in a future post.
Hopefully, the kids’ movements will become more compact and look more like the typical FMA player. It will take time and further experimentation though.
Over to you, have you adopted this teaching method with beginners and kids? Chime in!
*Blog photo of T-Rex courtesy of Canva.