Teacher or Tyrant?

A few years ago I had a family who had both young boys and their dad train at my dojo.

They were lovely people and always enjoyed being part of the club. They wanted to help out where they could, always attended club activities and always spoke highly of the school recruiting new people whenever they could. During their short time with my club they would have brought in at least 3 other families who became long term students.

Sadly a couple of years ago with the downturn in the economy they were forced to move out of California to a small town in Nevada, where they bought a beautiful new house on a golf course with amazing desert views. They still live there and love the small town atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of California.

However they tell me there is only one karate school in this town, where the teacher is a tyrant. Apparently he yells and screams at his students, takes the “drill instructor” attitude and treats 5 year olds, teens and adults all the same way.

Though I’m sure the dad could no doubt handle whatever the instructor dished out, the kids were absolutely scared to death of their new karate teacher. So much so that they would leave class crying, begging dad never to take them back. And of course after dad saw how the instructor taught, he pulled his kids out faster than you could say yame.

In the area where I live, this school wouldn’t last 6 months. There are about 30 martial arts schools within a 20 mile radius, and people vote with their feet when they’re not happy. But I guess in a small town with no competition you can run a dojo how you want. Where there’s nothing better, often people will put up with poor instruction and service so they (or their kids) can possess a sense of belonging.

This year I have a favor to ask you. No matter where you are in the world whether it’s a small town in the middle of nowhere or a big city, I ask you to  hold yourself, your instructors and your dojo to a higher standard. Be more patient with your students, give more than what is required, strive to improve your teaching skills, yell less, and always maintain your integrity.

These new seeds you plant will grow enormous fruit for you to enjoy.

Until next time…

– Jason

8 thoughts on “Teacher or Tyrant?”

  1. In my long career in the Martial Arts I trained on and off since 1973 ,Ive seen great instructors and some horrendous ones. I think the horrendous ones generally get found out real quick but unfortunately turn off alot of people that would have made excellent martial artists and make them leave forever the pursuit of learning a Martial Art.

    I think there should be some sort of certification before some one could open a school . anyone can open up a school . And if people don't know they can fall victim to the charlatan

    Thankfully there are alot of great instructors to chose from today not like it used to be when Martial Arts were shrouded in Mystery.
    Today theres a studio every few blocks.

  2. Teacher,patient with your students especially kids pays.I am staying in a small town about 200ks from the capital city and some kids from the capital from other dojo wanted to come to my class just to see and have fun with our students.my students tells them that I dont shout at them when they make a mistake,I want to believe sensei Jason let us make our dojos a place that can be enjoyed by all and the club will grow.

  3. In my experience the positive "Carrot" approach of encouraging and rewarding students (even by attaining their next belt) far outweighs the negative "Stick" approach of punishment for getting it wrong.

    After all; if they want the reward of a Black Belt they will have to put in effort and keep coming to the club.

    If they want to avoid excess punishment they just won't show up at all!

  4. I believe you should teach with your heart and mind. You should try to be a motivator not a drill instructor. You should build spirit not break it down. We have had great success with many students over the years and they all have become our extended family. I feel being a martial arts instructor is a gift. In the game of life we all struggle to be somebody; however it is what you do for others that makes you somebody.
    Thanks Jason!


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