Whether you are a student or an instructor, you have probably come across difficult students in your class. Managing difficult students is an important skill for instructors to learn, and if you are a student knowing how to deal with them will help make your lessons more enjoyable and useful for yourself.
Here are some of the more common behaviours of difficult students and how you might go about dealing with them.
Over enthusiastic / violent with strikes and techniques
Anyone who has done martial arts for a period of time will know that there are defensive techniques that involve strikes either as a weakening strike, a finisher or as the main technique.
Not all the time your opponent has their guard up (either due to the nature of the novice, or because the opponent has disarmed the guard). Eventually you will come across a student who does not let this deter them from hitting with full power. This can be dangerous, or at least very annoying. No one wants to go home from class injured or with cuts and black eyes, so this is behaviour that needs to be addressed.
In most cases the student is probably just over eager to show intent (a term we instructors use pretty much every lesson), but this intent needs to be harnessed. Tell the student their intent is impressive, but that a good martial artist also needs to show restraint when appropriate. If you are a student and do not feel comfortable telling another student this, ask your instructor to do so.
If you find a case where a student is truly violent, an instructor needs to take them to one side and ask them to show restraint or leave the class (a violent person doing martial arts is not necessarily a bad thing, as the arts can help calm a bad temper, as long as that is the student’s intentions).
Convinced that none of the techniques taught would work in real life
Training means a lot of the time that we cannot fully execute a lot of techniques – everyone in class would get injured every week if we did. That also means that your training partner has to show some willing when it comes to having techniques performed on them. This can be a sore point with some newer students, who become convinced that this false environment is showing that the techniques are not realistic, rather than just adhering to health and safety.
One way around this is to apply the techniques full speed with experienced partners. Get two black belts to fight it out as a demonstration, showing how the techniques really work (black belts should be trusted to do this without actually killing each other).
Pad work for striking techniques is also useful, as you can get students to hit the pads much harder, illustrating that the strikes would be very painful.
Another tactic here is to set up some light / medium sparring in the group, and get your students to use these techniques in a fight scenario. Most students should eventually see that the techniques can be pulled off to good effect.
Eventually though, any martial art is only effective if the practitioner puts in the time to learn it and apply it – some students may just have too closed a mind to put the time in with an open mind. These students should maybe be told to try a different past time, or asked to have much more patience whilst they learn the art.