Ok, yeah sounds all nice, fuzzy and easy to say. For somebody that teaches martial arts, it is not as easy as just showing up and gently shoving in the general direction of somebodies expressed goal. That is not successful over the long run. Success, here, is defined as a long and enjoyable training in the martial arts.

Aiding somebody in reaching their goals is a wild mix of the students needs, wants, and desires, plus your agenda as a teacher. Now let's complicate it by making it a moving target. Did your goals change as you progresses through he ranks, did you as a person morph, change and grow? Of course the answer is yes. The question is who is responsible for that transformation? Are you, the teacher responsible for the transformation, the other people in the school, a combination?

So helping others reach their goals is not a static target and yet we would hope that our discipline as a teacher will provide the laser like focus, the target that is needed to reach the goal. I would suggest to you that as an instructor that the target is not a target, but a path (although students still see it as a target). For students, know this, you will start with a target, but you and the target are going to change. Your goal will become a path if you stay long enough.

So let me get all Philosophy 101 here. For the students, the target forms the path and often you don't know you are on the path for focus on the target. Instructors have had targets, but are on a path.

So helping somebody reach their goal is more complicated than just putting them through the paces, targets move, appear and disappear, agendas change, and when a good path rises, it should be chosen.

Do you have a place that you can point to where the target fell away and the path appeared? I would love to hear about it.

There ya go, a big cup of deep thought tea.


  1. Q: "Do you have a place that you can point to where the target fell away and the path appeared?"

    A: First, excellent post. For me, the target fell away with out my fully realizing it. Point of fact is that I didn't give it the thought until this post.

    I guess that my shift to the path occurred after I left the Marines and started to get involved with a more diverse group of practitioners, i.e. military, civilians and their dependents.

    I feel the path has assumed a more important role these last four or five years where my growth, as perceived by me, as "more." I am focusing on this a great deal and it has influenced my practice and living more than I would have expected, a bonus. Thanks for the post, a very good perspective.

    Charles James

  2. Hi, Kris,

    For me, the target fell away around fourth kyu or so. I know before that, my target was learning this or that form so I can progress to the next rank. After that, I can remember not just wanting to "do" the thing, but to do the thing right, if that makes sense.

    But the thing is that sometimes the target re-appears. Happened after shodan and took a definitive "you're not quite ready for nidan" before I even realized it was there again. Sometimes the target just moves to a new place, perhaps. Or perhaps my path just has a few weeds, LOL...

    Thanks for the cup of deep thought tea :-)


  3. That has been my experience, that it is a transition form target to path and usually not recognized until already well passed.

    Lawrence Kane & Kris Wilder

  4. Great post. I don't really know when it all changed for me, truth be told, I have not given it much thought. I will have to think about this some more, hopefully I don't hurt my head.haha.


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