One of the most powerful tools available to martial arts instructors is a "mat chat." A mat chat is when an instructor pulls a student off to the side of class and has a little chat with the student one-on-one. I recommend that the instructor be at the student's eye level if possible (down on one knee if talking to a child). The mat chat is a great opportunity to be an effective coach.
- Let's say that one of our junior students' parents made a comment that their child has been less than respectful at home, or did poorly on a test. Obviously this is not something that you would want to publicly address in front of all of the students and spectators.
- Or, maybe you notice that one of your adult students is having a bad day. This is an excellent opportunity to be a positive influence in a student's life via a mat chat.
At my schools, mat chats are an important part of every instructor's job. They can be used to acknowledge good effort on the part of the students or to make them aware of unacceptable behavior. This is an easy way to set expectations and keep everyone in your class on the right track.