Wednesday, June 3, 2015


(c) 2015 #MartialArtsTrends- Reading Body Language Drill 1
Background Information to Communicate to your Team: Body language illuminates the emotions of your team or students. An easy introduction to Reading Body Language is also our First Drill. (this article is about reading and using negative body language.)

Drill 1:  Look around you and notice the other team members expression or signs of to start noticing other student’s body language - look for signs of boredom, frustration, Confidence and Energy. Normally negative emotions present well in everyone, so they are easy to notice.  

Now, break up into groups, and have each of you notice what and how each team member is presenting – the affect, expressed in their face and motions.  Then tell them what you noticed, and what you think it means.  

Positive emotions are nearly universally ignored in our culture, except for those of us who lead.  We need to notice, use and at times confirm these emotions in our teams or students.  This will sound a lot like manipulation, and to those who have not developed the skill well, it is manipulation; so use it for the good of your team, not to control or dominate them or your friends or family.

Dealing with Negative Emotions: If your team members present negative emotions, the best thing to do is break the pattern of that behavior with a positive behavior.  These are the methods we have found most often work:

An example of "breaking" the behavior with a positive emotion, that allows for all 5 of tools listed below, and works for 4 year olds to teens, is what we call the "Go Game."  The video below is of teen members of the leadership class playing the "Go Game."

The Negative Emotion Tools:

a. Individual Attention – as small as noticing them, and what they have done that is right, worthy and on target, and as expansive as taking them aside and tutoring them in something they are not able to grasp for whatever reason.

b. Spotlighting – Point out the correct or correct direction of the behavior of a team member.  It does not even always have to be the one who is presenting negative affect.  Sometimes, just letting them know you are their handing out praise in enough, but you might need to focus on the one thing the one person is doing well.

c. Competition – Most people are competitive, but afraid.  If you see boredom, this is a good path without much extra thought, however, if you see frustration, you might want to lower the expectations or change the goal, and then compete, just to rewire the positive emotions you want.

d. Lead from the Front – Normally, it is better to have them be the stars and exceed their limits, with you as the leader or coach.  However, there are times where you need to create the pace and energy of your group, showing them PHYSICALLY how to feel and perform.  This is generally the quickest way to change affect; however, it is also the one that wears off first.  

e. Humor – Humor gives you clay feet, just like them, if it is directed at you, and your growth as a leader.  Most followers cannot see themselves in your shoes, so giving them a picture of the struggle, which they are going through right now, gives them hope. 

INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION IN TEACHING: This can take several forms.  You can just touch them physically, like putting a hand on their shoulder, and tell them that you noticed something they did well or something that you want them to do at a higher level or even at a higher level than everyone else in class.  If they are LOST because of frustration, you can point for them (be in front of or beside them) or you can take them aside or have another instructor take them aside. (If you separate them from class, take one of the “A Team” members as a partner for them. No One likes to be singled out as BAD.)

Drill 2 – Practicing Individual Attention and Touch:  Have a team member teach a technique, pattern (form), or some other element of your curriculum. Give them 5 minutes or so, and have another student count the number of students that the leader has “physically” touched in communication of some sort.

SPOTLIGHTING IN TEACHING: Stop the Class and have the student perform – this is for the bored student.  If you spot light a frustrated student be sure they can DO whatever it is you are spot lighting or you will make it worse.  Have the school give them an ovation.  In addition, you can even challenge the other students to perform better or you can have a group challenge – have them all point at that students and say, “we will do better,” or “you’re going down,” and have the spot lighted one respond – “Hit me with your best shot” or something like that.

Drill 3 – Practicing Spotlighting:  Have a team member teach a technique, pattern (form), or some other element of your curriculum. Give them 5 minutes or so, and have another student count the number of students that the leader spot lights.  Discuss how many it took to make a difference.

COMPETITION IN TEACHING: This too can be done several ways.  Individually, have one student notice another, and tell them that they are the leaders, and you want to spot light one of them. Tell them you are watching for the next x minutes, and will pick one of them.  This is for the bored students. For the frustrated one, it is better to have group or corporate (whole body) competition.

Drill 4 – Practicing Frustrated Completion:  Have a few unknown to the leader team member’s act as frustrated with the drill students.  Again have them teach some element of your curriculum, and don’t necessarily worry if it is over the non-leaders’ head.  See if they can identify who is frustrated, and then construct a completion that fixes it.

LEAD FROM THE FRONT IN TEACHING: You alter the speed of the class by slowing down the drill or speeding it up.  If you have a lot of frustration, slow the whole class down.  If you have a lot of bored students, speed the class up.  You control the class by your leadership, or you can pick an “A Team” Member to lead. Thus you alter the Pace upward or downward – changing how they are performing.

Drill 5 – Practicing Lead from the Front:  Tell the leader what quality you want them to invoke in the class, like more speed, less speed, controlled power, focus, attitude … whatever, and have them lead by doing it with them, or by having a A Team student lead.

HUMOR IN TEACHING:  This can be an issue if your sense of humor is not tested on the age group you are teaching.  Most students like physical humor at YOUR expense.  Nearly no one likes humor at their own expense.  Make a joke that illustrates your point, and then move on.  For example, they are stepping the wrong way and stumbling. You do it in exaggerated form, fall down, and they laugh. Then do it correctly. They see the contrast, and the problem is solved.

Drill 6 – Practicing Humor:  Give a team member 3 minutes to lead, and a goal of 3 jokes.  Stop them if the humor is at someone else’s expense, or out of line, explain and go on.  If it continues, change leaders.  Some people need to be the center of attention, and this is where that will come out.  Don’t let them lead the rest down the toilet.


We have purchased dozens of books on leadership and team building over the years, and oddly, they all pretty much come down to the same thing.

However, all of us have those moments when the well runs dry. For those moments, looking at someone else's notes and methods can jump start us.

This book, The Big Book of Team Building Games: Trust-Building Activities, Team Spirit Exercises, and Other Fun Things to Do, is one of the books we use still to help with team building drills. I suggest you get it, and others mentioned in outer articles.

Knowledge is power.

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