Martial Arts Instructor or Teacher

Choosing a martial arts instructor or teacher is one of the most important things we need to decide upon when starting or continuing in our path

Not Necessarily

On paper choosing a martial art and then choosing a martial arts instructor or teacher should be easy – but in reality it isn’t as easy as it looks…

On paper we should choose a martial art which we would like to learn, and then find a teacher/instructor which teaches it – but in reality it isn’t as easy as well.

Choosing a martial arts instructor or teacher should address the following issues:

(*Like explained in the “Warriors Project” we use the male gender referral for convenience only).

1. Is the martial arts instructor teaching the martial art we want to learn?

2. Do we seem to have a good interaction or good chemistry with him?

3. What is the level and quality of his students?

4. How “liberal” is he about allowing his students to “look outside the system”?

5. His experience and credentials.

Is the martial arts instructor teaching the martial art we want to learn?

When we search for a teacher in the martial art we want to learn, we have to check how the teacher views this/his martial art.

We must check that in theory, we and our teacher understand each other. If his interest in his martial art is only health wise, and ours is fighting wise, he is probably not the right teacher for us.

If he teaches an art for street fighting or self defense, and we want to learn the skill for sport competition, our training is likely to be inadequate…

The fact that we decide to learn, for instance, kung-fu for health benefits doesn’t mean that any teacher will be fit.

We can easily find our selves sparring, and doing fighting oriented exercises that will probably have a good health impact on us, but by definition will not be the best training we can give ourselves for our specific goal…

Do we seem to have a good interaction or good chemistry with the him?

This question is true for almost any teacher we choose in any areas of life, and the martial arts are no exception.

It does not matter how good of a teacher he is, if we don’t have a good interaction with him we will, naturally, not be able to benefit from it.

We must remember that teaching a martial art is very demanding, and not everyone is 100% professional; let’s face it – because of the energy and effort it demands over the years, most teachers are not.

It is not rare to see in the martial art world, martial arts instructors or teachers holding their students back, and some of it is due to lack of trust and sympathy between them.

Bottom line, if we see that at first or during the course of time the chemistry just isn’t working, finish it as nicely and clean as possible – we must not waste our time, because it is irreplaceable…

What is the level and quality of his students?

One of the main areas that must be evaluated and which is often left unexamined.

The teacher will not be there to handle a certain situation for us – We will!

Therefore we must make sure that he can lead us to our goals. It is not important if he has achieved the goals himself, but it is extremely important to check if he has students that have – and what was the path they walked…

If it took them 20 years we need to ask ourselves whether or not this is what we’re ready to give. Maybe they have reached the same goals we aim for, but walked most of the road with other teachers.

This point is very important so we’ll stress it some more – Many times we see a great fighter/ athlete become a medium or average coach/ trainer, and the opposite, an average fighter/ athlete become a great trainer/coach.

Cus D'Amato, Freddie Roach are only a few examples from the boxing world – The first was a legendary coach, who trained champions such as Mike Tyson and Floyd Patterson – he never fought in the ring!The second was an average “journey man” boxer – who is training the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Andrei Arlovsky and trained Oscar De La Hoya, to name a few.

There are many such examples, from all walks of life.

We must talk with the advanced students – we must not leave this stone unturned.

How “liberal” is he about allowing his students to “look outside the system”?

One of the most important things for a martial artists development is to keep his mind open to different ideas and methods, we should never assume we have all the answers or know all that there is to know.

Talking with other martial artists, training with different drills, methods, and partners, is and will be vital for our improvement! ( To learn more about martial arts development

Unfortunately many teachers don’t encourage or even worse forbid their students to explore other martial arts, be their reason what may…

Many times these teachers don’t see their students’ best interest as the number one priority, hold them back and fail to release them to develop elsewhere when needed…

“Knowledge is a free treasure we must not let anyone prevent us from having it.”

His experience and credentials

We’ve saved the last and obvious parameter for last.

We need to make sure our teacher is who he claims to be - not name wise but experience and credential wise.

The best way to check it, is to see the certificates, examine his, and his students abilities. Talking with them in order to understand ideas and have theories explained is also a great way to make our evaluation…

Conclusions

Remember, choosing a teacher is not an instant decision. It can take a day, week, month and even years. Professionally our teacher is there to help us reach our goals, and if that isn’t his first and most important interest, then something is wrong.

This doesn’t mean, by any means, that we should abuse or use our teacher, Teaching a martial art, like we said earlier is very demanding, and we should be very respectful and grateful to anyone willing to do the deed, if his heart and mind is in the right place.

Choosing a martial arts instructor will be one of the most important things we do in our martial art, no matter in what stage of our development process we are in.

However by no means is it a catholic wedding, nothing is forever and the bond can always be reevaluated…

Our teacher is and will be measured by how much of our potential he can make/help us realize

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