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Friday, February 12, 2010

Want to be a Martial Arts instructor? Then act like one.

This blog post is mainly for students who want to be an instructor someday. If you're already on your way up the ranks in your study, then kudos to've realized that martial arts is not some "get your black belt in a few weeks" kind of activity, and you've realized that attaining that black belt or instructor certificate does NOT make you an instant Master.

When you are authorized to instruct, keep these points in mind (these do not include the business aspects of running a school, but rather general points on teaching and keeping up on your training):

As a teacher, realize that people start studying martial arts for different reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to:
  • Self Defense
  • Mental discipline
  • Physical fitness
  • Recreation/sport
  • Making new friends
  • Hobby
  • Fun
  • Get in touch with one's own culture
  • Stress relief
Whatever the reason your new students choose to study martial arts, assure them that they will find the benefit they are looking for, and more. Remember, the students are not you.....if a student wants a hobby, then don't expect them to attend every class every day right off the bat, as you did when you were a beginner.

Plan your curriculum in such a way that students get a bit of their goals at each class.
  • Your class should include activities that will allow students to practice not only their fundamentals, but their forms, self defense, sparring (if applicable), and new belt rank elements (if applicable).
  • Class activities should be geared in such a way as to allow students to appreciate the traditional aspects of your art, as well as modern methods of training.
  • Don't be afraid to try new things. The traditional rote method in which you trained was probably great for you, but probably will not be as enjoyable by others.....don't take this as an insult. After all, everyone is different in their learning styles.

Praise students and correct students as necessary.
  • Give compliments for improvements, good effort and good attitude. Don't give compliments blindly. If students get a compliment for mediocre effort, they will grow accustomed to mediocre techniques.
  • Nip disrespectful behavior in the bud right away. If someone is acting up, stop it immediately and very briefly explain why that behavior is not acceptable.

Keep your own training a priority on your schedule.

  • You can spout fortune cookie quotes all day long, but it won't make you a better teacher in the student's eyes unless you keep training yourself. If you are able to still train with your own teachers, then do it. Although "self teaching" is good, it doesn't replace training with a teacher.....whether it be in a seminar, workshop series, or even a quarterly visit with your teacher for an intensive training session.

Network with other Instructors in your area
  • Visit other teachers in your area, get to know them. Networking is great, because it allows teachers to refer to each other for answers to questions or allows other teachers to refer students to your school if their school isn't offering what a visitor is looking for.
  • Field trips. It won't kill your art if you visit other schools. Ask instructors of other schools if you can bring your class to train with them for a field trip, so that you may get familiar with other arts and learn to appreciate and respect them. Who knows, you might get another school coming to your place to learn about your style.

Last but not least, ACT LIKE A TEACHER.

  • Come to class on time, be dressed and ready for class. If you can't be there on time, be sure that someone can cover for you....don't leave the students waiting outside the Dojo door wondering where you are.
  • Don't talk badly about other teachers, especially well established teachers. It could come back to bite you in the rear end. One time, I was talking to a teacher, who proceeded to talk about an esteemed teacher in our city, and how much different the other teacher's teaching style was. It was evident that this teacher was hinting that the other teacher's style was "wrong". Come on, if you have to pick apart someone else's teaching style, it doesn't impress me nor does it make me think you are any better of a teacher than the person you're talking ill about. Want to lose respect? Then just keep talking trash about others.
  • Be yourself, and balance your personality with your art. If you like to laugh, then add a bit of humor to your classes. Don't try to be like your own teacher.....everybody teaches differently. However, see below.
  • Keep bawdy humor and conversation out of your classes. Some of your students might take offense. Does'nt matter if bawdy humor is part of your does'nt belong in class.
  • Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT flirt with people in your class. Do not abuse your level or authority. Doesn't matter if the student flirted with you first....if you go along with it, you've just created a very awkward situation.

These are just a few tips for a new teacher. Remember, being a teacher doesn't give you ultimate power over others.......instead, it gives you the responsibility to show others how to to find their own power.


KM said...

Very nice. Thank you

Complete-martial arts said...

I strongly agree. A teacher is the most important part in a student's progress. If the teacher is no good, the student will be no good. Thanks for your insight!

Dojo Rat said...

I posted a link to your Blog on Dojo Rat today,

John @ Dojo Rat

Restita, Seattle Wushu Center said...

Thanks John! I love your blog, btw!