The Importance of Reflection in the Learning Process

Do you remember when you were a white belt? How far have you come since then? Remember struggling with side kick? With that strange turn in your first form? What about how you felt the first time you sparred? What happened the last time you sparred?What did you learn?

…Are you reflecting right now?

Beginning of test
Clearing the mind to reflect.

Last week, I had a bunch of students fill out a self-evaluation. (If you’re an instructor, I uploaded the self-eval .doc at the end of this post. You’re welcome to download it, make changes, & use it!)

Self-reflection is an incredibly valuable tool. Hit that “more” tag to find out why!

All the best teachers in my life have asked me to reflect, at some time or another. They recognized the value of reflection as a part of the learning process.

To put it succinctly: reflection helps us evaluate our own performance.

More specifically, reflection helps us:

  1. Compare ourselves to ourselves, instead of comparing ourselves to others;
  2. Make a complicated goal (becoming a martial arts master) become simpler by seeing it in pieces & steps;
  3. Re-connect with the reasons why we do martial arts;
  4. Look at where we are strong and where we are weak;
  5. Celebrate the things we do well;
  6. Have self-confidence by knowing that we do some things well;
  7. Stay humble by acknowledging our weaknesses;
  8. Set goals for improving areas where we are weak;
  9. Stay focused on our goals by taking a conscious part in our journey.

All in all, reflection helps us tell the story of our journey.

horse stance
Beautiful horse stances!

The story you tell yourself is important. It’s connected to your attitude, your outlook, your motivation, and your emotions.

Reflection helps you gain control of that story. When you control the story, you control the ending.

Will you reach black belt, or not?

Your choice.

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Here’s the file for the self-eval.


Results: (Here’s where I reflect on the activity).

The self-eval was equivalent to me asking someone, “How good do you think you really are?” The responses were varied: a few people knew right where they were, some were very hard on themselves, and some were farther off than I expected.

I noticed that my adult students were mostly very hard on themselves. My teenagers mostly rated themselves above where we would put them.

summer camp
NWSMA students doing a group activity.

What’s next?

  • I think some students need to watch themselves on video.
  • I tend to not offer praise or correction when someone is already doing self-correction. This activity showed me that at least a couple people like this would like more direction from me.
  • Some students need more praise.
  • Some students need more correction.

None of these ideas are new to me. Because of the self-eval, I have a better idea of who needs what.

I’ll do my best to make sure everyone gets what they need. Just remember:

“A good sensei teaches you what you need. Not what you want. –@KARATEbyJesse”

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