Responsibility Of An Instructor
When you’ve been in this game a few years and you’ve seen a few thousand people come and go you tend to be able to categorise people and their actions. Having said that, after 40 years I am still surprised by people that the Martial Arts “alchemy” has worked with – those that suddenly “awake” and turn from being a waste of Dojo space into spirited, courteous and conscientious Martial Artists.
As a Coach we have to lay challenges out for the student in a trail of bite size chunks and see whether they are prepared to follow, chew, swallow and then digest….
It seems that those who make the most noise and would consume most of the instructors’ time are the least likely to stay. Those that have “done a bit of this and that” in the Martial Arts and have opinions on the Arts and Instructors that they have barely skimmed the surface of in opinionated ignorance, are probably only going to repeat the errors of their past in your club.
Those with a lot to say at the beginning I liken to the old radio transmitter sets we used to have in the Fire and Security services, where you’d hold the “transmission” button down when you were talking and would have to release it to hear what the person at the other end was saying. They seem to have their finger jammed on the button and are constantly transmitting and unable to hear what anyone else is saying – particularly their instructor…..
I must admit I discourage these people from joining our club and guide them to toward similarly orientated Instructors – and there’s a lot of them around. Instructors of all “grades” who never continued their education after learning the basics of their art. My favourite adage concerning them is:
“30 years training can be 30 years of continuous, progressive education or the 3 years basic training repeated 10 times.”
The funny thing is, those that are guilty of repeating the 3 years basic training 10 times are the ones who manage to convince themselves that they have had progressive education! They attend an odd one day course with various Instructors “on the seminar circuit” and the odd summer course (although in my experience they rarely complete the week – it’s usually “just a couple of days” in case they’re in danger of learning something!) and think that they’re “prepared to put their gi on and train with anyone”.
The one day courses are usually because they want something new to teach and you find that whatever “tricks” they’ve just learned, they are teaching as soon as they return to their club! “A lot of noise and a little knowledge” describes them perfectly!
I think that one of the problems with the American styled “billing” companies is that they take young inexperienced Black Belts and build their business with management, advertising and selling strategies, created through the study of statistics, making them successful (in a business sense) very quickly giving them a duty of care over too many people too early in their career. They don’t encourage the Instructors continued long term education in the Martial Arts, advising them to “network” with other successful business school owners and use high profile Instructors on the seminar circuit, often destroying their necessary long term relationship with a good instructor in a proper system and reduce the development required to become a Martial Artist with depth. They become shallow “business” Martial Arts instructors obsessed with statistics money and the “quick fix”.
Students aspire to be like their Instructor, if the quick fix mentality, statistics and financial aspects take precedence over immersion into long term study, skill learning and alchemy of the character in a club then sure enough they will produce students that in turn will leave them to do the same thing.
The Instructor creates the next generation of Instructor…. What an awesome responsibility! Imagine the Ancestors watching the principles that they studied all their life and passed on to deeply respectful students for generation after generation, being packaged and sold like a commercial product! I’m reminded of Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple…
There’s no problem with using a billing company because good management technique can be conducive with good Martial Arts. It’s important for your club to be financially solvent and well structured. Direct Debit means commitment and long term planning, student care means that the Instructor respects and works WITH the student to alter and change their entire perspective of life.
Unfortunately the general public spend their life being convinced that they need “easy and quick” and are not prepared to see the conman in their midst offering just that in the Martial Arts, students then pass from club to club skimming that sparse knowledge and feel that if they can do the moves from the movies and “look good” that they are good….. that is until they walk into a real fist.
The encyclopaedic technicians think that the more techniques you know the better you are… the endless complex drills shows how much they know, yet most successful warriors polish their mind and spirit and a handful of techniques… a la Musashi… I’m reminded of the way a lion moves in for the kill, finishing it’s prey often with just one technique…
Noisy and shallow just doesn’t have a place in the real world of Martial Arts, the deep satisfaction of living a worthwhile life comes only from long, deep, quiet study. The friendships forged through hard assiduous training and blood sweat and tears as the magical alchemy of a good, ancient system takes place is worth it’s weight in gold.