I have taught hundreds of students in the past, in large group settings, as well as in small groups and one thing I can safely say is that I greatly prefer small intimate classes to large scale ones. I have taught in large dojos which had several schools and over a hundred students, I owned a fairly large school for a time as well and I have taught classes of 2-5 students. I never enjoyed teaching classes of 25 + students at once, not because of the demand, but because of the fact that it was impossible to give fine attention to detail to each student.
A technique practiced a hundred times improperly, then is a learned habit and must first be broken, before the technique can be learned correctly. The second and most important reason I like small classes is the ability to teach a majority of classes outdoors, without disrupting others also enjoying the outdoors setting.
Training outside offers a host of benefits that help the student to grow and in this article, I hope to share a few of my favorite reasons.
The elements! – I like training among the elements because the heat, cold, snow, rain, and storms help build the spirit. The elements bring out the inner strength of the warrior and force them to persevere beyond a comfortable climate-controlled dojo setting. Nothing forges the true warrior spirit like mother nature!
The ground! – Uneven terrain, dirt, concrete, etc… better prepares the student to move from the mat to the actual surface they might need to use their techniques on. Training on this type of natural flooring also forces the student to be more aware of what’s around them, pieces of tree, a lump of dirt, and a quick trip can have a student on their posterior, just as quick as an errant blow.
Communing! – Warriors are one with nature, they are a part of the natural order of things and the fresh air, sun, the scent of grass, and trees all do a great deal to help the warrior feel as one with nature.
Spreads the art! – What better way to spread the word of the system you’re training, than by letting others freely observe a class? Sometimes onlookers will observe a few classes, then ask for more information or a business card. This is a great way to promote your art for free.
There are dozens of other benefits as well, but for the sake of keeping this article short, I kept it to the most poignant points I could think of. While it is possible to have large-scale outdoor classes, you may encroach on others’ enjoyment of the setting in doing so and will not be as capable as an instructor to check each student’s technique and form and make necessary corrections.