They want to be just like you…

In an effort to stress a CRITICAL point (while trying desperately NOT to sound like a lecturing karate parent) I’d like to be perfectly blunt, direct and ask you some cold, hard questions… because it’s IMPORTANT.

If you’re easily offended or overly sensitive maybe you should avoid reading the rest of this post… however, if you want to become a better instructor this is important stuff.

As an instructor I hope you realize that you are a role model.

YOU set the standard.

YOU paint an image of what a karate instructor should look like…

People look up to YOU, admire YOU and model YOU.

Your students hold YOU in high esteem.

They put YOU on a pedestal higher than what you probably put yourself.

Your students are inspired by YOU.

So what’s all that got to do with anything?

I want you to step back and take a look at yourself with your students’ eyes. What do you observe?

Be brutally honest.

Do you see someone who practices EXCELLENCE every day?

Do you see someone who gives 100% effort every time?

Do you see someone who you are INSPIRED by?

Do you see someone you want to FOLLOW?

Do you see someone you want to become?

Yes? Great!


What can you improve? What’s missing?

How can YOU make yourself a better teacher? A more admirable role model?

Remember your students often want to be JUST LIKE YOU. What examples are you setting? What behaviors are you displaying?

Are you giving 100% when teaching?

Are you PASSIONATE about what you do? Or are you over tired, out of shape, and your efforts half-hearted attempts?

People are modelling YOU.

Ok, so I got the point… but I’m not sure what’s the next step?

We all should be setting the best possible example for our students and can achieve this by constantly looking for ways to improve ourselves.

If you’re out of shape, then it’s time to train more. Find the time and not excuses – that’s what you demand from your students right?

If you’re over tired, then you’ll need to reorganize your schedule to get more sleep, or adjust your diet so you have more vitality. Or if that’s not possible I can tell you 5 Hour Energy works wonders!

If you’ve lost your passion, you have to find ways to light that fire again. Usually a loss of passion is related to other factors, like being over tired, over worked or out of shape… so fix those things first.

A good start is to train more yourself so you feel better. Attend a seminar, get involved with others outside of your dojo or create a goal for you and your students. Bring a focus back to your training and teaching, and you’ll find your passion.

Read something and learn something new every day. It can be related to what you teach, or simply books about self improvement. Not sure where to start? How about this blog for one? (yes, I know a shameless self plug) Or read more about the history of your style, or kata application so you have more knowledge to teach.

Another way to reignite your passion is to connect with your OWN mentors and role models. Read their stuff, buy their books, attend their seminars… get  educated so you have more to offer your students.

Even if you are convinced you’re giving your all 100% of the time, have perfect behavior and setting an excellent standard, the truth is you’re not perfect and there is ALWAYS room for improvement.

The road of complacency and mediocrity doesn’t lead you to much – the road of practicing excellence does.

Hold yourself to a higher standard and those you teach will do the same.

5 thoughts on “They want to be just like you…”

  1. Great post!

    It is a great reminder that the title alone will not inspire anyone.

    Most of us have an area that needs work, but it has become “lost”, and we never bother to look for it.

    • Thanks Jim,

      Yes, you’re right – we all have stuff that constantly requires attention. Years ago after I started teaching more than training, my sensei warned me of falling into the “soft sensei trap”.

      He reminded me that I needed to continue to train hard, and work on myself in order to be a good teacher and a good leader. He’s a strong believer in leading by example, and not expecting your students to do anything you can’t do.

      Obviously as we get older physical limitations will play a role in our agility and ability, but staying sharp and focused, eating healthily and keeping in good shape will allow us to teach at a higher level for a longer time…

  2. Oh Jason, your timing is excellent as always ;-).
    We take a break for the summer months as most dojo’s do? but as for the last few week’s i have been sending out links that i think my students should take a look at and even comment on if they feel the need to. And as for my training? I am a firm believer that the brown/black belts should have 1 night to themselves and it should be all about bettering yourself so the sharpness never fades 🙂

    • Absolutely Brendon…

      It’s so important to look for ways to improve ourselves, train hard with our peers and constantly push the limits. It raises the bar for everyone and creates capable and strong karate-ka that the rest of the dojo will look up to.

      Thanks for your input!

      – Jason

  3. Hey Jason,

    Always great to read your posts. Like always and everywhere it’s all about motivation, not only as practicer but also as teacher.

    In my club we don’t stop for instance during the summer months. You think I’m crazy, no? Well, we have training twice a week, but totally differently. I’ll explain: we keep our gi at home and just train in training pants and t-shirt. And if the weather is fine enough, we train outside on the grass instead of inside. We also invite some other teachers to come over to teach and members from other clubs to join these summer trainings.

    We make pictures of each training and post them on our website. We publish a small report of each training. We publish 2 specials newsletter (one for July and August) and send it to every karateka who participated to these summertrainings.

    I’ll tell you: all participants are going crazy once they partipated. And the trainings are all about keeping the physics on level (read hard and intens training), with the needed discipline during the training but with a smile, a tear and a lot of sweat. The atmosphere is suburb.

    After 2 months training like this, you’re motivated for the rest of the season. I can tell you !!!

    Andy Willaert
    JKA Karate Tasseikan De Pinte – Belgium


Leave a Comment