Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Notes for Master Teachers

Teaching the techniques of the martial arts is an obvious part of our profession. While technical instruction is important, it isn’t as important as the ROLE that the martial arts instructor can play in the life of his or her students.

The role is that of a person who lives life with a certain disciplined gusto, using the practice of the martial arts to reveal an understanding of life. The martial arts teacher can have a significant influence with students based on the way he or she deals with conflict, with personal motivation, with business, with management, with community involvement, with spirituality, with failure, and with any number of the other parts of the recipe that make for a high-functioning human being.

No, the martial arts teacher isn’t the ultimate deliverer of all that is wise, but he or she can definitely stand tall as a part of the village of (potentially) wise people who can make a difference in the lives of others.

With this idea in mind, I offer the following advice to all master teachers:

  1. You are not The Master, you are the Servant

You’re not to stand at the front of your class commanding your troops, shouting out orders, and acting like the top dog; you’re on the mat and in the world TO SERVE.

You serve your students, humbly, and through that process you help others to be better teachers, leaders, and human beings. Whenever you start getting that superior-human-being feeling, I’d like to suggest that you have a a trusted friends whack you across the knuckles with a yardstick.

Instead of nursing an inflated ego and a warped sense of entitlement, you should be falling on your knees and thanking your students for the education and opportunities they’re giving you. In the end, you learn more from your students than they learn from you.

2. What You do Outside of your School is More Important Than What You Do In It.

You’re school is a box –and in it you are a VIP. What you do within the confines of your box dictates what you “sell” as a teacher and business owner. However, what you do outside of your box, the way you engage the world, is the difference between running a “successful business” and being a “Master.”

The truth be told, if every man and woman in the world started making a difference in his or her community, started taking some sense of responsibility for fixing problems, and developed lifestyles (including sales, marketing, and educational strategies) that affected the quality of life for others, well...the world would be very different place.

I hold the opinion that a large group of very disciplined, focused, courageous, and determined people ought to serve as role models of how people could and should engage the world.

Know any groups like that?

  1. Self-Defense Has Little or Nothing to Do With Punches, Kicks, Blocks, and Grappling.

Is flour an important ingredient in a cake? Yes, of course it is, but have you ever eaten a straight cup of flour? Are kicks, punches, blocks, grappling, and all the other physical aspects of personal protection an important part of self-defense? Sure they are; they represent the flour of self-defense.

But the physical aspects of self-defense don’t make up the cake of things a person really needs to know about personal protection in today’s world.

What really hurts people, today, are things like cancer, rampant consumerism, relationship dysfunction, diabetes, and poor money management (to name a few).

For the resourceful martial arts teacher this opens up a huge window of opportunity and adventure; for the less-than-resourceful instructor this idea represents a real pain in the behind.


Jeff said...

This is so true. I teach both in a classroom by day, and one night a week, I teach at my karate dojo. I find that I get a lot of respect out of my students at school because of the dojo, and vice versa.

Thanks for a great blog.

Vysokij said...

Your #1 is right on the target. My angle is different, but the target is the same. As a "Samurai" (by blood line and striving in practice) - I am in service, to my family, friends and country. Service is rewarding and life is better for me when I give, vice take. What I get is not necessarily what I take, but rather what is given to me. For that I am thankful!