Qualities to Look for in a Martial arts Instructor
What are the qualities of a good martial arts instructor? Well, that depends on who one ask the question to. However, in the martial arts, true, certified instructors usually have a code of ethics and an expected demand from the public they serve.
Not every Black Belt is qualified to teach. One may be wise in his or her art, but unable to convey to the student the principles and science of techniques to make that art effective. To be an instructor means to have going through vast amounts of training and mentorship. In my school, Black Dragon Martial Arts, LLC, located in Prairieville, instructors must be at least a 2nd Degree Black Belt with at least two years of supervised mentorship. This is the expectation from me as the school owner and from the Tactical Hapkido/ Universal Alliance to assure that students receive quality instruction that meets their need for promotion, self defense and personal goals, be that fitness, weight loss, or simply a more healthy lifestyle.
The second demand of a martial arts instructor in personal intergity. If one finds the "Cobra-Kai" sensei (Karate Kid) running a school, one should leave--quickly. That instruction will be all about him/her and not have the students best interest in mind. One can find these so called instructors everywhere. Please see my earlier post about finding a good "fit" for you. One that will push you to be all you can be, but that meets "your" goals, and not that of the instructor. When seeking out an martial arts school, ask questions, do not sign contracts or commit to anything until you, the consumer, have had time to research and seek out information about the school, the martial art taught, and instructor and his/her background. The arts all teach self defense and most teach sport, but taking a particular art depends on one's personal goals. Don't be fooled by fast talk and "bling." Usually traditional schools hold true to the arts. However, some mixed arts have surfaced and also serve well. Again, it all depende on what the student is looking for and what his or her personal goals are.
The third thing one should look for is the instructor's reputation in the community. Besides teaching martial arts, most of us have a "day" job. Juggling that with family and community takes effort and dedication. Serious martial arts instructors will usuall have their schools incorporated as an LLC to give credibility to their business. The consumer can check this out on the Louisiana Secretary of State's web site. Be aware of the "fly by night" schools who are here today and gone tomorrow with your money.
Honesty, integrity, and respect for self and other should be qualities found in any martial art instructor and these should be handed down to their students as they were handed down from the Master's. The martial arts are about peace, not fighting. To be in control of onself and convey that to the next gereration is of utmost importance by the serious, traditional instructor. The last thing any martial arts master through the ages wanted was for a confrontation to become physical. They believed that if it got to that, they lost the spiritual (not religious) side of their training. The arts are not about learning how to hurt people. They are about how to survive from being hurt and about control. With the right instructor and the right "match"of the arts for one's peronal goals, the arts offer benefits greater than one can imagine. However, it all comes down to "who" is running the school. As a consumer, you have the right to ask questions, watch a class, even at my school we offer 2 free classes to see if this a "fit" for you and for us. Being well informed, having proper training, and not being ripped off by commercialism, one can find the arts to be a rewarding endeavor.
Ken Ducote, MA, NCC, LPC
4th Degree Black Belt-Master Instructor
Black Dragon Martial Arts, LLC