Written by Greg Ellifritz
A couple weeks I wrote an article encouraging instructors to do shooting demonstrations in front of their classes. I think the best learning for the student occurs after he or she actually has a visual model of the drill the instructor is asking the student to perform. Visual models created by competent instructors are powerful learning tools.
During a discussion on a break at the groundfighting class I taught for FPF Training last weekend, a student mentioned the article and asked for clarification. He was amazed that there were some shooting instructors who never fire a round in any of their classes. His comment led to some questions about why an instructor might choose NOT to fire demonstration drills in class. My class’ general consensus was that instructors who don’t shoot demos are either inept or have a fear of looking like a “show off” in front of the class.
My friend Tim mentioned that most students don’t view shooting demonstrations as “showing off.” He asked if we thought our high school teachers were “showing off” when they solved an algebra equation or diagrammed a sentence on the blackboard in front of class. Obviously not. Those teachers’ demonstrations were critical to ensure that students learned the material.
Another student in my groundfighting class then brought up an incredibly valuable point. He said:
“You physically showed us how to do each move you have taught us today. No one thought you were ‘showing off.’ The demonstrations were critical so that the students could understand the technique. I couldn’t imagine how horrible the class would be if you never actually showed us the move you were wanting us to learn.”
Think about that. How do people learn physical fighting skills? They watch an instructor perform the skill. The instructor then breaks the technique down into smaller learning points with further explanations and demonstrations. When the instructor believes the students understand what he wants them to do, he allows the students to practice the move.
Do you think fighting skills could be better taught without demonstrations? I don’t. Demonstration is THE MOST CRITICAL part of the instructional process for teaching a fighting technique. It sets the tone for everything else.
Isn’t teaching defensive shooting actually teaching people how to fight? Whether we are teaching students the physical psycho-motor skills of how to fight with their fists, feet, an impact weapon, or a knife, we teach by using technique demonstrations. They are indispensable to the learning process. Yet some instructors who teach the physical psycho-motor skill of shooting think technique demonstrations are unnecessary or even harmful.
Does anyone see the disconnect?