If you’ve always wanted to learn martial arts, finding the right school and instructor is an important decision. A journey towards your black belt is a long one and if you find yourself in the wrong situation it will get cut short early. Here are a few major things you want to look for when finding the right martial arts instructor for you and your family.
No Arrogance Or Ego: There’s nothing wrong with confidence but if an instructor is overly egotistical or self-promoting it’s often a red flag. Martial arts should be about respect and humility but students will adopt the habits of their teacher either way. It’s an instructor’s job to lead by example and that includes their behavior, not just their martial arts skills.
Encouragement & Positive Reinforcement: Teaching martial arts is done best by building up a student’s confidence which brings out their best abilities. An instructor shouldn’t be rude, overly critical or disrespectful towards their students at any time. A positive atmosphere is key to a student’s long-term success and a student should feel good after each class.
Not Motivated By Money: Larger martial arts studios can sometimes focus on financial gain over the quality of the training they offer. This can result in classes that are too large, a very generic training regime, or not a lot of individual attention. A quality instructor focuses on the love of the job first and makes sure all students get their money’s worth. They will also not try to force any long term contracts, or constantly add additional fees beyond their standard rates.
Can Clearly Demonstrate Their Abilities: A qualified teacher should be able to clearly demonstrate their skills that meets or exceeds student expectations. You should feel fully confident that what you are learning actually works and makes sense in a real-life self defense scenario. If your instructor talks lots and seems to do very little you may have reason to question their abilities.
Proven Credentials: A legit instructor should have proven credentials that are easily verified. You shouldn’t have to look too hard to find out who they trained with previously, what ranks or certifications they have, or any awards or accomplishments they lay claim to. Anyone can buy a black belt on Amazon or at their local martial arts store. That’s why it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper to make sure an instructor’s credentials are not fabricated.
Open To Questions & Feedback: A true martial arts instructor understands that learning never stops and it will always be an ongoing process. That means they should be open to answering any questions openly and honestly, even if they don’t always know the answer. It also means they should be open to hearing feedback, even if feedback can be negative. A good instructor is always striving to improve and respects the opinion of everyone he or she teaches.
A Team Player: A martial arts club is a team where members are all on the same side and are more or less equal. It is not a pyramid where higher ranking members are treated differently or given preferential treatment. All students are there for the same purpose, to learn and grow as martial artists. Higher ranking students do earn certain privileges and responsibility but for the purpose of helping everybody, not to shine the spotlight on themeselves.
Builds Good People Not Just Good Students: You’ve heard the classic phrase “martial arts is for self-defense only”. That means students should never be taught aggressive behavior that leads to bullying or an obvious misuse of their training. A big part of your journey towards your black belt is the growth of who you are as a person. That often even outweighs the skills you will learn over time as a martial artist.
Written by Jeff Moyer
3rd Degree Martial Arts Instructor – Hydra Taekwondo Airdrie