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Teaching Muay Thai to the Mentally Challenged


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I have been approached to teach a group of around 10 mentally challenged young adults. I have never taught anyone who is  mentally challenged. I would really appreciate any thoughts or considerations on how to conduct the classes. I have been speaking to the person involved in setting this up and the general consensus is they need a strict but vibrant session. The only way I know of to achieve this is to conduct them like a karate class. I have a few reservations with this. These being (1) I don't  want to be called Sensei even though I hold that title and rank associated with it, I just don't get the idea. Never have, never will. (2) I hate unnecessary bowing and scraping, I consider myself to be very egalitarian. (3) I hate formality. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of my karate rank, I've just never seen the point in being called a Japanese title when I'm not Japanese and my karate is not a traditional form. I much prefer being called Jeremy or Jezza. I guess it's an Aussie thing. I don't even let my Muay Thai students call me Kru. I'm not Thai, never trained in Thailand, my muay thai is Australian in intention and purpose and  I have never pretended otherwise. Just a bit confused as how to approach the strictness thingy.

Any help to solve my conundrum, would be most appreciated.

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It will depend largely on the group but I would advise to just be yourself and follow your own style of teaching. 

Keep it very basic and fun. You will have to adopt as you go. Some guys will struggle to retain information, just accept it. 

Teaching in karate style as in lines might help but or at least as a starting point. 

Keep it enjoyable and keep your sense of humour. 

Can’t think of much else as groups can vary so much and each will have additional issues to deal with, balance, coordination etc

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Re titles,  in USA its very common they call the leader "SenseiKruSir"  for prof.  ie professor.

If you have in your country some usual everyday title for a teacher, you can use this instead, if you so want.

So for example, here in Sweden male teachers in children school are called for magister.  Nowadays it have no connotations any longer its really an academic title...  Its just what you call all male teachers.  Its of course worse for female teachers - they are called for miss....  So it is nowadays a title of sorts this too...Even if once upon a time  miss and magister were a mark the male teachers hold a higher status and also a higher salary - because they were male...    Im digressing, but you see the picture:   Its formal titles but none of them bears much formal weigh.

If the teacher by any reason dont want to be called by the first name, they use this title.   But its common the swedish teachers use their first name.

 

YOU can of course use your first name if you are comfortable with it.     Its usually the best, but the risk is some few students may misuse the privilege... Just be prepared for it... 

 

Good luck!

 

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Not sure what you mean with mentally challenged (I think a more preferred term is intellectual disability, when I worked with issues related to disabilities, we called it 'people living with disabilities' in policy documents and legal texts) but I have a brother with a developmental disability which makes non-verbal communication and social interaction for him difficult. He also has problems with coordination and balance etc. Sports together with other people living with disabilities has been a great blessing for him through which he found friends and even his fiancee. He always calls his teachers by their first name. For him it's hard to get several instructions at once, a more first A then B then C-approach is better. But he can practice one thing for hours and hours and hours without getting bored.

My advice. Just be open and friendly and curious and patient. 

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8 hours ago, LengLeng said:

Not sure what you mean with mentally challenged (I think a more preferred term is intellectual disability, when I worked with issues related to disabilities, we called it 'people living with disabilities' in policy documents and legal texts) but I have a brother with a developmental disability which makes non-verbal communication and social interaction for him difficult. He also has problems with coordination and balance etc. Sports together with other people living with disabilities has been a great blessing for him through which he found friends and even his fiancee. He always calls his teachers by their first name. For him it's hard to get several instructions at once, a more first A then B then C-approach is better. But he can practice one thing for hours and hours and hours without getting bored.

My advice. Just be open and friendly and curious and patient. 

Thank you for the advice. I'm very keen to start their lessons. I believe everyone can benefit from training. My biggest concern is how to keep their interest. I'm really stepping into unknown territory for me. I will just take it as comes and make the necessary adjustments to each individual. Their, (I don't what you'd call him), teacher will be participating as well so this should make things go smoother. 

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11 hours ago, StefanZ said:

Re titles,  in USA its very common they call the leader "SenseiKruSir"  for prof.  ie professor.

If you have in your country some usual everyday title for a teacher, you can use this instead, if you so want.

So for example, here in Sweden male teachers in children school are called for magister.  Nowadays it have no connotations any longer its really an academic title...  Its just what you call all male teachers.  Its of course worse for female teachers - they are called for miss....  So it is nowadays a title of sorts this too...Even if once upon a time  miss and magister were a mark the male teachers hold a higher status and also a higher salary - because they were male...    Im digressing, but you see the picture:   Its formal titles but none of them bears much formal weigh.

If the teacher by any reason dont want to be called by the first name, they use this title.   But its common the swedish teachers use their first name.

 

YOU can of course use your first name if you are comfortable with it.     Its usually the best, but the risk is some few students may misuse the privilege... Just be prepared for it... 

 

Good luck!

 

In Australia, we're generally not big on formality. Myself in particular really only formal titles for those I respect. I'm gonna go the first name route. It's up to me to engender respect. I don't have any problems engendering respect in others. I think I may have been placing more emphasis on my concerns simply because of the demographic the group falls under. I'm just going to play it cool.

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15 hours ago, Sean said:

It will depend largely on the group but I would advise to just be yourself and follow your own style of teaching. 

Keep it very basic and fun. You will have to adopt as you go. Some guys will struggle to retain information, just accept it. 

Teaching in karate style as in lines might help but or at least as a starting point. 

Keep it enjoyable and keep your sense of humour. 

Can’t think of much else as groups can vary so much and each will have additional issues to deal with, balance, coordination etc

Thanks,😂. I'm going to play it out just as you suggested. 

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4 hours ago, Jeremy Stewart said:

Thank you for the advice. I'm very keen to start their lessons. I believe everyone can benefit from training. My biggest concern is how to keep their interest. I'm really stepping into unknown territory for me. I will just take it as comes and make the necessary adjustments to each individual. Their, (I don't what you'd call him), teacher will be participating as well so this should make things go smoother. 

In my humble opinion, that you take the time to ask for advice and that you reflect on this task like you've done here, really shows how dedicated you are as a teacher. It makes me really happy. I'm pretty sure it goes well and I'm very curious to hear how it pans out. I have no experience whatsoever in teaching and I would look forward to hearing your perspective on this experience. 

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Jeremy, do you teach a kids class? I imagine it would be a lot like teaching pre-teens and even younger. By strict (and Id get them to operationally define that) they might mean structured. So maybe 10 mins (play it by ear) warm up of basic exercises. Then maybe some balance work to help prep them, then 15 mins of stance and basic punching with focus on shifting weight. It might not hurt to find games that they can do that fit the sport. Coach Patrick feom Valor Muay Thai has a great kids program that works for everyone, he might have some suggestions. I know hes posted in the forum before. Kevin might be able to tag him.  

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19 hours ago, LengLeng said:

In my humble opinion, that you take the time to ask for advice and that you reflect on this task like you've done here, really shows how dedicated you are as a teacher. It makes me really happy. I'm pretty sure it goes well and I'm very curious to hear how it pans out. I have no experience whatsoever in teaching and I would look forward to hearing your perspective on this experience. 

I will be sure to keep everyone up to date. I'm excited to give it a go. Thank you for the compliment. 

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15 hours ago, Coach James Poidog said:

Jeremy, do you teach a kids class? I imagine it would be a lot like teaching pre-teens and even younger. By strict (and Id get them to operationally define that) they might mean structured. So maybe 10 mins (play it by ear) warm up of basic exercises. Then maybe some balance work to help prep them, then 15 mins of stance and basic punching with focus on shifting weight. It might not hurt to find games that they can do that fit the sport. Coach Patrick feom Valor Muay Thai has a great kids program that works for everyone, he might have some suggestions. I know hes posted in the forum before. Kevin might be able to tag him.  

No James, I don't teach a kids class. I've often been asked, but have always declined. I don't have any reason, other than I'd  rather not deal with their parents, LOL. I've been giving a lot of thought and sort of come to the conclusion to interact with them as you suggested. I'm  also going to ask the physical trainer that takes them for a class every fortnight how he keeps them engaged.

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20 hours ago, Coach James Poidog said:

Jeremy, do you teach a kids class? I imagine it would be a lot like teaching pre-teens and even younger. By strict (and Id get them to operationally define that) they might mean structured. So maybe 10 mins (play it by ear) warm up of basic exercises. Then maybe some balance work to help prep them, then 15 mins of stance and basic punching with focus on shifting weight. It might not hurt to find games that they can do that fit the sport. Coach Patrick feom Valor Muay Thai has a great kids program that works for everyone, he might have some suggestions. I know hes posted in the forum before. Kevin might be able to tag him.  

Hi "Coach" Jeremy,  (great way to be referred to if you don't like "titles". ---it helps clarify what you do and what they are there for...

When you say "Mentally Challenged" kids, have they been specifically diagnosed with a condition?

Do they have Down syndrome or do they have ASD--Autistic Spectrum Disorder?  or both?

Edited by Patrick VALOR
mispelling
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21 hours ago, Patrick VALOR said:

Hi "Coach" Jeremy,  (great way to be referred to if you don't like "titles". ---it helps clarify what you do and what they are there for...

When you say "Mentally Challenged" kids, have they been specifically diagnosed with a condition?

Do they have Down syndrome or do they have ASD--Autistic Spectrum Disorder?  or both?

They're all autistic.  I'm just gonna go with the first name option. Just like any normal class.😎

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All went well today. The youngsters (18-20 yr old) all had fun. Their were a couple of stand outs. One in particular,  a young woman. I can't describe how naturally gifted she is. I hope this turns into something more of a permanent nature as I'd like to see how they all grow over an extended period of time. I have them for 3 months at the moment.

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I've trained a few children with learning difficulties - needless to say it's a challenge. We had one little boy who was very passionate about muay thai, but also very passionate about planes flying above the gym making noise. 😄 It helped that there were plenty of kids in the class who were good with him and would cheer him on 😄

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18 hours ago, AndyMaBobs said:

I've trained a few children with learning difficulties - needless to say it's a challenge. We had one little boy who was very passionate about muay thai, but also very passionate about planes flying above the gym making noise. 😄 It helped that there were plenty of kids in the class who were good with him and would cheer him on 😄

The young lady I mentioned, her hands were unbelievable,  she picked up the teep and round kick like she was born to it. Her movement in general was outstanding.  Pity is probably the wrong word but it's the best I have, so, pity she is mentally challenged,  she would have made an outstanding  fighter, not just because of the potential she shows physically,  she even carries about herself a certain aura 

Edited by Jeremy Stewart
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