BECOMING A MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR
Why do you want or did you become a martial arts instructor? Did you like what you had seen in your instructor(s) and wanted to become like them? Do you like the idea of being in control of other individuals without them having the ability or recourse of "getting even" or proving something to themselves or others? In reference to the last question, do you enjoy the "power" that instructor status, allows?
There are many reasons for becoming an instructor at anything, not the least of which is just plain enjoying teaching something that you are knowledgeable of and qualified to pass that information on. The most demanding entity of teaching, especially the martial arts, is that you must be personally present for most all classes. After all, you are the human master text, by which the knowledge and information comes from. Without your constant and regular presence, the students have no training manual that breaks everything down to the most small degree.
When you decide or start considering the possibility of instructing, do you feel that you are or will be qualified to teach? You will have to realize that it takes a very quick mind to come up with a satisfactory answer to every question. You must have the knowledge and technical ability to acquire and hold the respect needed to maintain interest. What you teach must work! Your philosophies must be morally correct, for in some degree you will be responsible for incorrect usage of your "instructions". You must demand, by your actions and earned authority, strict adherence to some things, yet allow slight modification to others. After a period of time, your students should be able to differentiate between the two, most of the time without asking. But, they will not, because of the earned authority that you will hold. They will wait to be told of the rules or actions that are to be slackened upon. When ever the student(s) begin to modify or change the rules without your direct authority, you will have lost the respect that is needed to lead and they themselves become the leaders. They will become the controllers of your class!
You must demand by an earned understanding, and not just by words what is required or allowed, without a question even being asked. Along with this understood demand must also come the necessary compassion that the human race requires to accept the necessary authority to maintain rationalism and control. Without this your students will no longer show up for classes and generally will not look elsewhere for similar instruction as they will feel that this same atmosphere will exist in all classes.
For the individual who wishes only to be lord and master in their classes or instruction, the day will come when that attitude will begin to haunt them. In the beginning you will have unquestionable ability to "abuse" all of the students who enter the course of instruction. But, the day will come when some individual will teach the instructor humility in front of the whole class. If and when that time is necessary to come, that instructor will no longer have, let alone demand, respect. Respect and courtesy must be earned and taught, not demanded. Hitler demanded and his reign was short lived. As was stated before though, there are some things that must be demanded and backed up by appropriate actions to maintain control and continuity within your class of instruction. As an instructor though, you must be willing to listen to suggestions or ideas that in the long run might be beneficial to the longevity and worth (merit) of the system. Do not allow yourself to believe that your thoughts and ideas are the only viable ones. You are not to attempt to design clones of yourself, as the human nature and physical difference of each individual will not allow it to transpire. Individuality must be allowed to exist to enough of a degree, that the students still feel a sense of self-control. No one will accept a total dictatorship as I referenced to Hitler before. Each student though, when outside the class of instruction must radiate the principles and physical actions of that system. Otherwise there is only a system by name only. It will have no individualism or purpose.
Respect is very important to me and you probably after reading this in its entirety, will. get tired of hearing about it. But, respect is something that has to be earned! I have a high pride of my students accomplishments and feel that I owe them all that I have in technical competence and personal attention. Discipline should be out of respect for each other and not out of forced actions. The mind should be totally on learning "THE WAY", and not on "what is going to happen if I make a mistake"! (In the way of punishment)
The ultimate desire of a Sensei, Sifu or the like, should be to produce students better than themselves. Students reaching blackbelt level in my classes should be very good all around. If not, it is my fault and not theirs. To purposely hold back the students to maintain the "Sensei is Master attitude" is unfairly cheating them of the maximum level of learning. "One on one" communication is a necessity in acquiring the maximum level of ability. The theories in some arts that "this way is right and that way is wrong" is also a negative attitude. If two systems are taught to their fullest, the outcome in a confrontation should end up a near tie. The condition known as "mutual escape" should take place and no physical contact will occur. The only thing competing, would be the minds of both individuals, causing the body of each to always be in a countering or evading posture, of which an attack would be fruitless.
As a final note, once you start teaching a martial arts class as the senior instructor, you will not have the luxury of quitting. You will be locked in, exactly the same as a business or college. If you quit, where do the students go to continue your training? I can not think of more of a heel, than to be an individual who acquires the trust and admiration of others, only to drop them unexpectedly and leave them to fare for themselves. Some of these students truly wish to become blackbelts or senior martial artists and if are treated with courtesy and respect, they will most generally pass this respect on to others and develop a high pride in themselves at the same time. If this is not accomplished, the training has been a failure. The instruction of the martial arts is an obligation, once started, to your fellow man and not just a business for financial gain. If performing as only a business, the true "end effect" is lost and the time spent is wasted!