The challenge of developing an effective coach education process when dealing with an ancient embodied knowledge system; the evolution of a coaching foundation degree for a Chinese Daoist embodied learning and practice system.

Coach education within the traditional martial arts exists within a field of tension that has to balance respect and acknowledgment of ancient practice with the contemporary needs to grow an educated, effective and sustainable cohort of coaches. These coaches need to be able to recognise and respond to demands from the public while still maintaining the ethos and essence of an embodied learning and practice system. This paper charts the process through which the educational charity Lishi International engaged with Leeds Trinity University to develop an innovative and unique coach education programme for a diverse student population. This process will have relevance to other forms of practice within the martial arts that are concerned with coach education and sustainability. This is possibly the first time that a traditional embodied system from the East had been validated as a degree by a Western institution. Lishi International is a registered charity that governs the delivery of the traditional knowledge system; Weihai Lishi Quanfa, known as ‘Lishi’ which is a method of Daoist embodied learning and practice from China. Having been transmitted between family generations for thousands of years Lishi was exported to the UK in 1930. Much work has been done since then to develop pedagogies that ensure Lishi continues to be relevant and beneficial to communities in the West; where it has spread to locations throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. Lishi International had inherited a traditional coach training apprenticeship that took too many years for a student to qualify, it was recognised that to meet a growing demand for coach training from constituencies of learners who were in many ways at distance, a new intensive coach education programme needed to emerge. The key challenges included a need for coaches to be trained in three areas: Firstly, to learn the structuring framework and practice of Lishi; Secondly, how to coach Lishi to others; Thirdly, to develop professional skills that would sustain them as coaches within the creative sector. Independently conducted evaluation of the programme has highlighted the student experience, and has drawn out strengths and weaknesses to the particular approach that was adopted. This evaluation is included in the key findings of the paper. The paper will inform other embodied knowledge systems (of which there are many within the martial arts) and will have utility for all those that are concerned with coach education and sustainability.

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