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Considering teaching?


You have been training in the martial arts for a few months and now you are thinking that you would like to be a martial arts instructor. After all, it cannot be too difficult to do since it seems there are so many teenager instructors. In fact, it may seem that there are more teenage instructors than adult instructors, but that is a subject for another article.

Before you make your decision about instructing, here are some things to consider.


  • Teach what you know.  Presumably, it will be the martial art in which you are currently training. Don’t try to teach the latest “in” thing as an add-on when you know nothing about it. Stick to what you know and do best.
  • Teaching children. In the martial arts business, the money is in teaching children, so commercial martial arts are mostly devoted to teaching children. Therefore, you must enjoy teaching children and have the patience, personality, and special skills required to teach them. Traditional martial arts demand strict discipline and dedication, so, while there are certainly children in the system, there are not as many as in the sport-oriented martial arts. Therefore, in traditional martial arts, you must also be highly skilled in teaching adults.
  • Martial art skills. To be a good teacher, you must be able to teach others to be skillful in the martial arts. This does not necessarily mean that you must be skillful in the martial arts or that you ever were skillful in the martial arts. While people may be initially attracted to you by the martial art skills you can perform, they will not stay with you as a student unless you can teach them how to perform the martial art skills. As you build a reputation in teaching, people may also be attracted to you by what they have seen your students do. 
  • Appearance. As stated above, people are not paying to see you do things; they are paying you to teach them to do things. If you have a reputation as a good teacher, people will be attracted to your school even if you are a fat slob. However, when you are just starting a school, people will probably be attracted to your school by what you can do and also by your appearance. You must look the part of a martial artist; this means being fit, trim, and athletic.
  • Monotony. Teaching the martial arts involves teaching the same thing over and over, hour after hour, day after day. In addition, since there is such a high turnover in martial art students, you will be teaching the basics to new students more than anything else. After a few months, you will be able to anticipate questions because you know the questions students usually ask at this point in the curriculum.

    In an effort to not say the same thing over and over, you will probably start looking for different ways to say the same thing. This may lead to student confusion since the best way to say it was probably the way you originally said it. This means that over time, the quality of your instruction may diminish. When you first start teaching, you were an enthusiastic idealist; however, after a few years, you may become a monotonous, monotone bore.
  • Less training time for you. When you are teaching, you are not training. If you don’t train you may find your fitness suffers. If you teach and train, you may find you have no time left for anything else, like your family. You may find that you enjoy training more than teaching and grow tired of teaching. One good thing is that while teaching you are constantly demonstrating techniques. Since you must perform the techniques repeatedly using perfect form, you may find that the overall quality of your techniques improves.
  • Compromise. If you are a traditional martial artist who wants to become a commercial martial art teacher, you will have to compromise the integrity of your art to be successful. There is a high student turnover rate in commercial martial arts, but the rate is even higher in the traditional martial arts. Most people of today don’t want commitment, they just want something new to do for a while. This means that if you teach according to your strict traditional training, you will lose more students and thus, lose more money.
  • Long hours. Teaching may be enjoyable when done for one or two hours a day, but it is work when done six, eight, or more hours a day. When you first start a school, you will not have any help, primarily because you will not be able to pay them. This means you will have to do everything, such as publicity, public relations, sales, accounting, cleaning, etc. Sometimes, actual teaching will only be a small part of the business.
  • Rewarding. If you enjoy teaching, then your reward will be seeing students with no confidence become confident, seeing awkward students become graceful, seeing angry students become calm, seeing meek students become aggressive, and seeing younger students grow into adults. In addition, you will know that you had a part in their metamorphosis. 

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