When a new student joins your dojo, it’s important that you give them something they are looking for in their very first class. Take the time when they’re filling out your paperwork to ask them, “Why do you want to do karate?”
Most will reply, “For self defense”. The second most common reason will be “Fitness”. And then you’ll get a few with random other reasons, like “self discipline”, “something to do” and a few will say, “I’m not sure”.
Use this information to do something in their very first class that at least involves one of their reasons for trying class.
For example, for people who tell you “Self Defense” you’d want to give them a practical and effective skill with which to leave class. Or if they told you “Fitness” then you’d want to make sure that in class they worked up a good sweat and left class happy.
Years ago when I was starting out as a novice instructor, I fell into a trap that just about every new instructor falls into. I was worrying too much about having my students make perfect stances, ensuring their hikite was pulled right back, and droned on about the history of the style.
I was teaching what I THOUGHT they should learn in their first class. Not what they WANTED to learn. I know this is a challenging thought for many instructors, but let’s consider why this is important…
There’ll be plenty of time to teach your new student the finer details of karate later. You’ll have ample opportunity to teach what you want to teach later on. But if you don’t give them a reason to continue, all that wasted time and effort trying to teach something that they don’t yet appreciate won’t count for anything.
You’ll be frustrated because they won’t be interested. And your new student will be left feeling unsure if they want to continue.
|Straighten those fingers!|
Likewise it’s intelligent to avoid doing loads of repetitive basics if they’re looking for a quick and effective defense solution.
(That’d be kind of like going to the grocery store and wanting to buy an apple, but the grocer gives you a pear. Yes, they’re both fruits, but each leaves you with a different taste.)
Of course you can’t please everyone, but I can tell you from experience this approach works well. As I said at the beginning of this post, it’s important to LISTEN to your new students and discover their reason for trying class.
And when you use that information well, their first impression will be a positive one, and your chances of retaining them will be increased significantly.