My Two-Step Lesson Plan:
- Identify A Problem
- Give people tools to fix it.
There's a few major ways I tend to organize classes.
1. Fix a tool—this one is particularly important for beginners, but even more advanced students need to go back to the basic sometimes. This is basically a class where I pick a single tool (jab, teep, leg kick), and work the hell out of it. This often involves making some effort to disguise what we're doing, or at least, provide enough variation that people don't get bored and rebel. A lot of people could stand to spend a solid hour just throwing jabs, but most people won't. They will, however, do a bunch of drills where they end up jabbing a lot.
2. Work a tactic—a broader version of fixing a tool. I'll pick a specific tactic or concept and work on it. Triggers, feints and fakes, set ups from the teep, and so on. The nice thing about these blocks is that they can run for several classes in a row. They can be challenging to run, in part because you need to have a good handle on the underlying concept that you're trying to get people to understand. On the other hand, if you can get students to understand concepts on a broader level, you can really open up their development.
3. Fighter inspired techniques—choose a particularly well-known fighter and work some of the tools from their arsenal. Sometimes, this is just a nice way to frame something you'd like students to work on, but it can also help to provide students with a sense of immediate connection to what they are doing. I'm not well-tuned in to modern combat sports, so I tend to use examples from Sityodtong's history, but any relatively well-known competitor will do.
4. Fight of the night—Sometimes, if there’s a really big fight that catches everyone's attention, I’ll use that as a springboard for a class. When Holly Holm beat Rousey, I used it as an opportunity to do a footwork class, because I had a really concrete and immediate example of why footwork matters.
5. Curriculum/rank stuff— Occasionally, I'll just pull out a chunk of the rank testing and make people work on it. They'll be tested on it eventually, and it provides a pretty solid framework.
6. Improv—sometimes, I’ll just watch people warm up, see a problem, and start trying to fix it. I ran a clinch class one day because I noticed that during the warmup, no one was capable of escaping from a body lock.
The trick with improvising a class is that you have to be really, really comfortable with the material you're teaching, or you can get stalled out halfway through the class. It's better to identify a problem and make a note to come back to it during another class than to try and improvise your way through it only to discover that you don't have a good handle on how to cover the problem.