And now for something totally different… but not really: The power of the teacher/student relationship

In teacher education, and on this site in particular, we often discuss the power of the relationship between teacher/student for fostering student success.  My blog today is about the teacher/student relationship but not the kind we  typically discuss in teacher education where we look to the classroom teacher and the child in a school setting. My blog today is about a Muay Thai (martial art)  trainer and his fighter.  There is much to learn about teaching and learning from the martial arts world. While the two contexts, martial arts and traditional schools, are vastly different the elements of the teacher/student relationship are transferable. In my experiences as a classroom teacher, teacher educator, and student and fighter of Muay Thai, there is much to be gained from thinking about and understanding the elements of such relationships and thinking about them in relation to one’s own practice. My partner is a martial artist and trainer of world class fighters. I have observed his practice for over a decade, watching closely and listening carefully in order to better understand his interactions with his students/fighters. One thing is for certain, the relationships involved for students who achieve greatness and significant improvement in, not only the martial art but also,  their overall quality of life have consistently demonstrated the following as leading elements to their success:

1. Love. Both teacher and student must love what they are teaching and learning.  Passion, excitement, and engagement seem to be necessary components for building a love for learning and achievement.

2. Respect. Both teacher and student must have respect: respect for themselves, each other, and the discipline they are learning. Respect includes training for the discipline itself. Consistency, practice, repetition, commitment to improvement  is part of demonstrating respect.

3. Belief.  When a student is able to visualize their success and believes they can achieve that success, they most likely will. Their teacher instills the belief and supports its development. Belief is likely to be most difficult because it requires trust, vulnerability, and will. However, belief is what generates the most power to achieve.

Love ~ Respect ~ Believe

My partner, Ajahn Suchart, believes. He believes in his students and he shows this in a number of ways: in his genuine care and belief in his students, in his belief in his own pedagogical content knowledge, in the giving of knowledge, his commitment to students’ development, in the time he devotes to his students. Over the years I have asked students “what is it about this place (Siam No1, the martial arts school) that make you love learning and strive for success?” The dominant responses are  “Ajahn Suchart believed in me”, “He is one of the few teachers I felt truly cared about me” and “Ajahn Suchart’s passion for Muay Thai is contagious”.  I am certain that the art itself, Mauy Thai, is a leading factor for wanting to improve and excel, yet just as with regular classroom teachers, it is the teacher and their commitment and belief in their students that holds much of the power to influence the learning experiences and achievement of students.

And when the teacher truly believes in their students, the possibilities for student achievement are endless… students are empowered to achieve.

Ajahn Suchart’s first World Champion, Clifton Brown, wrote this on social media:

Without the patience, dedication, sacrifice, of time, mind, and body, of Ajahn Suchart, I would not be the man I am.

When people comment on my power as a fighter, strength of my body, beauty of the technique I don’t believe they truly understand, it was buit by this man. Standing immovable at 5’5 taking us hitting him full out, for years. Pressuring us, more than any opponent could. Turning coal to Diamond… Yet, more than his physical dimensions, it was the immovability of his spirit, that forged me, and others into men.

I have become what I am as a man because of you, your faith and belief in me and my potential, even at times when I didn’t believe myself.

Thank you Ajahn(Professor). I love you.


Image is of Ajahn Suchart with World Champion Clifton Brown.

Ajahn Suchart and his students exemplify the elements of an effective teacher/student relationship. The image below reflects the beauty of a teacher/student relationship:  students’ successes are the teacher’s  fuel to continue teaching with passion, commitment and determination.


Watching Ajahn Suchart teach — with utter passion and complete belief — reminds me of what teaching is all about — believing — genuinely believing — in students and through this belief, helping reach their potential and fulfill their dreams.

I am inspired by Ajahn Suchart. His work as a teacher has left significant imprints on the lives of many. As a teacher (educator) this is what I strive to achieve as well — an imprint on the lives of my students.

To view Simon’s last competition click the link below… wait for the end to see the teacher rejoice in his student’s achievement:


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