Introduction: TAO of Teaching

Welcome to the Tao of Teaching blog, a review of educational theory as it applies to the martial arts. Whether you are a teacher or a student you are involved in martial arts education. It is my hope that this blog will become a resource for practicing and aspiring martial arts teachers who want to explore theories of teaching and learning. We'll talk a bit about pedagogy, psychology, inclusion, and other aspects of learning. We'll explore the concept of authentic learning and try to figure out why studying martial arts can be such a powerful and transformative experience.


My name is Geoff Wingard and I've been involved in the martial arts for over 30 years. I've also been an educator and a historian for more than two decades. I've taught in public schools and colleges, with honors students and with at-risk youth. What I've learned is that theory without action is meaningless, but that action without theory is purposeless. We, as martial artists, sensei, sabumnim, and sifu, need to be masters of both action and ideas. I hope this blog - and your commentary on it - helps clarify how we can connect the skills we have devoted years to master to the best practices we hope to employ as we teach the next generation of students.

Let me offer a few words on what this blog is and isn't. First, this blog is a tool. It is intended to help clarify key concepts in educational theory and explore how those ideas apply to learning martial arts. Second, it is largely based on a review of literature and informed opinion. We're not conducting experiments or engaging in original research. This isn't Enter the Dragon and I don't have Han's Private Island with a captive population on which to test these theories, my observations are solely based on my experience as an academic and martial arts teacher and in my research on the application of learning theory in those environments. I hope you'll contribute your observations, too. This blog is also intentionally not focused on certain things. I will not tell you how to run your school. I will not try to sell you the next great program, supplement or training aid. There's no product placement in this blog. And I won't ever engage in the commercial vs. traditional martial arts argument. There are other blogs and other venues for those sorts of things. What I am interested in - and what I hope you will join me in exploring - is how we can be better teachers of the martial arts by applying the concepts that scholars of education have developed in the academic world.

One final thought; "learning theory" is a very general term. It refers to the collection of ideas pertaining to how people acquire and develop knowledge based on cognitive, social, and environmental characteristics. It is a lot of "thinking about thinking." As martial artists though, we are people of action and we want to be able to apply our knowledge in our classes and in the real world. In educational terms the action of teaching is called pedagogy. All of our teaching and learning is based in pedagogy and some of our pedagogies have stood the test of time. Other practices, however, may no longer be relevant or effective means of transferring the skills and lessons of our arts. Many of our arts have ancient roots, but that shouldn't prevent us from becoming the best teachers we can be by basing our teaching in the best science available. So let's engage in a pedagogy of perfection, the pursuit of perfect teaching and learning.

Byline: Geoff Wingard, M.A, M.Ed. is History Department Chair at Bangor High School and Instructor of History and Education at Husson University. He teaches Shotokan karate at Heisui Dojo. He may be reached at gwingard@tao-of-teaching.com.

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The UFC returned to American network television for the first time in more than two years Saturday on ABC while former featherweight champion Max Holloway returned to his winning ways following two straight losses, earning a unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi. Holloway showed he still has plenty left as a fighter dominating Kattar from the opening bell of the main event with a mix of punches and low kicks.

It appeared as if the former champion might stop his opponent in the fourth round landing a series of vicious body blows followed by hard elbows to the head as a bloodied Kattar sagged against the fence. But Kattar somehow survived managing to keep himself upright through the fifth stanza as well, only to lose a lopsided decision. After dropping his title to Alexander Volkanovski and then losing a controversial rematch, Holloway may have put himself in position for one more crack at the championship following Saturday's impressive performance.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

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When it comes to grappling arts most people have heard of Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, and Sumo. The dynamic art of Shuaijiao, though it is not as well known as the others, should be.

What is Shuaijiao?

Shuaijiao (also spelled Shuai-Chiao) is a Chinese martial art that is approximately four thousand years old. Shuaijiao was born in a time of warfare long ago when to fall on the battlefield meant likely to never get up, and in that spirit, the curriculum of Shuaijiao focuses on throwing in a variety of ways. It is a standup grappling style, meaning that although there are hip throws, leg sweeps, and hand techniques, like many other arts, there is no ground grappling. The goal of Shuaijiao is to end up in a dominant position standing.

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