Will you teach anyone?

What’s your policy when it comes to teaching karate?

Will you teach anyone?

Or are you selective when it comes to choosing students?

I run a trial program before accepting students into my dojo to ensure they’re a good match for our program. So long as they get along with my other students, aren’t disruptive, are respectful and follow the rules, then I’ll welcome them to our school with open arms.

Otherwise… it’s the highway…

Now this isn’t an elitist standpoint where I only accept the very best. It’s very simple really – be nice, follow the rules and it’s no problem – it’s not too much to ask.

However some instructors believe that everybody should have the opportunity to learn karate no matter what. They see it as their duty to turn the lives of wayward students around and give them some structure in an otherwise structureless life.

When I first started teaching I believed in this noble cause also, but after running my own place for the last 7 years I’ve a very different opinion. Here’s why:

Some students are problematic, disruptive, high maintenance, time consuming and emotionally draining. If you accept anyone into your program, you’re going to get these types of people show up from time to time. And when they do, it’s bad news everyone concerned.

  • First, your existing students will lose out since you’re spending so much time with the bad apples in your group that the good one’s growth will suffer.
  • Second, you’ll be frustrated with disruptive classes and high maintenance students. You’ll be spending more time disciplining students than teaching karate. Disciplining students should be PART of what you do, not ONLY what you do.
  • Third, the morale you’ve built up at your club will take a dive when Mr. TalksaLot won’t shut up and just train. He’s gonna get on other people’s nerves and your existing students will become frustrated also, some to the point where they’ll leave.

I love helping other people, but not unconditionally. I will give more than what they ask for, spend extra time with those after class who need it and be grateful for the loyal students I have. But when it impacts me, my existing students or my dojo in a negative way that’s where I draw the line. 

By being selective in who you choose to teach you’ll be much happier, more successful and your loyal, hard working students will appreciate you more as a quality instructor. Accepting anyone and everyone into your dojo is a sure path to long term frustration, increased stress and a decline in the standard.

What about you? What are your thoughts?

11 thoughts on “Will you teach anyone?”

  1. I taught for a few years where my students were whoever walked in. I started my own school and teach 'by invitation only' students. It is a million times better when I love and know my students. I feel so invested in them. it is so much better.

  2. I agree with you 100%.

    I use to teach at a school where the owner accepted everyone and his two co-instructors (I was one) were left to deal with the disruptive students who did not want to follow directions. The kids who wanted to learn did not get the training they deserved because we spent so much time dishing out discipline and constantly restoring order.

    This is not fair to the parent of the child either. They are paying money for their child to learn an art, and when there are constent disruptions what is the incentive for parent to conintue to pay for classes when their child is not learning.

  3. I have been teaching Martial Arts for over 29 years now. The motto has always been "We don't train bullies". Our system is purely self defense or "reaction to anothters action". We have rules set at the school and one of them is "No student shall provoke violence either inside or outside of the school" I accept all students and have had to "kick out" a couple over the years. I feel that with the "weapon" we offer to give the student through Martial Arts training we are responsible to make sure it is used responsibly.

  4. Guess I am the one man out so far on this ~ had many such Students and yes it can be a challenge ~ but have never had a Student that I was unable to change their attitude ~ it is very satisfying to know that with perseverance I have been able change the Students future from probable incarceration to one of a productive member of Society ~ I am sure I am not the only Martial Arts Instructor to do the same.

  5. I too fall in the category of providing more attention to the younger students that need that little bit of extra help. We run off an adult syllabus (as most Schools do) and there is naturally a separate standard suited for both children and adults. We had a student, yes a student that, lets say, required both doors open upon entry. We was possibly morbidly obese and diagnosed with diabetes at 10 and Asperges syndrome and a low low self of steam (Parents at fault). Anyways 2 years on, he wouldn't be recognizable. Now, we don't publicly show favoritism at the dojo, however he is clearly our favorite student and we have a ball when he comes to training. However he was by FAR the most difficult student to teach and yet had we given up on him, we wouldn't have changed a life nor couldn't this fantastic story be told.

  6. It's a tough one I agree. But I think you have to give them all a go at first. If those with the problem don't show ANY signs of progress – particularly after a warning has been sent to parents – stating that an improvement in attitude and behaviour is necessary for continued participation – with say a 1 month probationary period – then I think they need to go. Difficult I agree – how much progress is enough? How much are they disrupting things, how upset are the other students getting, how much time do you spend with them… All needs to be weighed up.

  7. Great discussion guys…

    Personally like I said in my post, so long as students fall in line within the time frame of my intro program (4 classes), I welcome them as a full member…

    (Being physically/mentally challenged makes no difference to me so long as they follow the rules)

    I think that some instructors want to teach whoever they can without evaluating who they're letting in to their dojo. Someone shows up and without trying a class first, they're happy to sign them up for a year or more…

    I just wouldn't let anyone into my house to spend time with my family before I got to know them a little better… and I tend to treat my dojo and students in the same manner.

  8. I would give every kid a tryout for 1-2 months to see the behavior and the performance of the child prior to finalize the long term commitment with the parents the alternative. You provided good points and I agree with you in that troubled kids should be out the door ASAP if they hopelessly can't be disciplined and have proper manners so not to disrupt others.


  9. I have have a class with 4 year olds. I have 4 students put into karate by their parents for different reasons. I have one child that is very disruptive but still a good kid.
    I recently started reading a book by Dr. Keven Leman "Have A New Kid By Friday" which combined with 75 Drills And Games will set the parameters for my class.
    I will, by the,Grace of God, not give up on these kids. I will strive to develop a good character in them because they are valuable and worth the effort.

    Franklin NC

  10. as per my experience
    recently a parents came to me willing of there child to learn karate
    I said them sent ur kid for two-three sessions then I will reply u that how much he will learn & how much he is having the potential it's to hard to judge them but I'm giving them the judgement.
    in last weak a mother came with her two kids a boy & a girl.
    and both are dumph unable to heare & speak.
    but they r very much interested to learn
    and there iterest is one who force me to teach them either they r eligible or not but I will teach them and I will make them a good martial artist.
    And I have aim that they will one day teach the martial art in those school where this types of kids study.
    and I will do this if there parents allows me.
    As per My way only practicing the kicks , punches & techniques r not the end of martial arts. It's much broader as I can not describe.
    if some where I'm wrong plz I m sorry.
    with regaurds
    Arun k. R. Maurya
    mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
    maurya_oam@yahoo.co.in shihanmaurya@gmail.com


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