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You call THAT karate?!

Years ago I attended a karate seminar in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. It was known to be a rough part of town and as we walked into the building I could hear the instructor screaming at his class of 10 year old kids.

“C’mon you pack of @#$%ing weak dogs!!”, he yelled, “you call that karate?”

Parents stood at the side of the tatami watching while, let’s call him Mr.D, berated their kids. Mr.D then picked up a stick and ordered his class to remove their gi tops. The kids continued with their training, marching up and down the floor doing oi-zuki (lunge puch) with Mr.D yelling at them the entire time. He poked, prodded and struck them with the stick as they made their technique.

“Don’t you want to be a black belt?”, he screamed in the face of one young boy who was struggling to keep up.

“No”, said the student.

“WHAT THE @#$% DID YOU SAY?”, he bellowed?

“No. I don’t want to be a black belt”, he said shyly.

The look on Mr.D’s face was priceless.

(If a black belt was what Mr.D was exemplifying, who could blame the kid for not wanting to be like Mr.D??)

At that time the dojo phone rang and Mr.D picked it up and yelled into the phone, “Can’t talk. Busy!”, and slammed the phone into the cradle.

I stood there dumbfounded and couldn’t believe what I just witnessed.

Here was an instructor who belittled, berated and threatened his students; a business owner who yelled at his potential customers over the phone.

It was absurd… and yet parents stood by and watched the class in progress.

My point is this…

Mr.D’s hard line approach was an excellent example of his attitude in complete conflict with teaching his students a respectful one, and also in conflict in creating a culture at his dojo in which people would want to go…

He used FEAR as his primary motivating force to try to get his students to achieve. And as seen by the young student’s response to his question, it wasn’t working so well.

What kind of personal attitude are you projecting when you teach and run your school? Is this supportive of what your goals are as a karate teacher, or is it detrimental to your mission?

Also if you have people teach for you, are you aware of how they teach when you’re not there? Is what they’re doing in alignment with you?

You’ve probably got dojo rules for students to follow, but do you have rules for instructors, including yourself? Do you abide by them? Do you enforce them?

If you don’t you’ll have conflicts and confusion from students, instructors and parents alike…

And as most people move away from confusion and uncertainty, and move toward consistency and security, this isn’t helpful in growing your school.

It’s time to take a closer look at what’s happening at your dojo – what impression do you, your instructors and your school give to your students, parents and prospects?

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