Students and instructors are training in a special environment, one that involves tradition, words, and rituals that are not part of everyday life outside of the Dojo. Tradition marks the Dojo as a special place. Self defense and fitness are not necessarily the core reason for training. I know people who have trained for twenty or so years and never had to use their skills in self defense. Yet, they keep training. Fitness can be reached with a good workout plan without involving years of Kata, Technique, Sparring, etc. Yet they keep training.
When training in the martial arts, students can separate themselves from the rest of their lives, and work on trying to make themselves more the person they want to be. The dojo gives them the opportunity by making itself a unique place. Besides being interesting, challenging and fun, it is full of meaning only available to insiders - special words, ceremonies, rites of passage, etc. The tradition of the dojo keeps the ideal that martial arts are for some type of improvement - more accessible, exactly because they make the environment a special one.
Traditions help the student feel like he or she is part of a community, that he is learning more than just technical knowledge, that he or she is a special person. People value traditions, they feel that they are important and expect them. Each head instructor is creating tradition in his/her own school. What you do will be remembered and cherished by others long after you are gone.
These conditions follow the instructor’s social role outside the dojo, whether you want it to be or not. What is often missing here is common sense. The role of the instructor is a nurturing one, and he or she is expected to keep the best interests of the student above his or her own. The teacher has more responsibility to the student than the student does to the teacher.
If you are going to be the Sensei of your dojo, than you must take complete and total charge of your own personal life.
In many ways the martial arts have been overexposed in the media, which has resulted in the loss of our allure or mystique of the arts. How many spinning hook kicks can a kid see before they and their parents are not interested anymore? The other half of the problem lies in how we operate our schools. Way too many of you continue to hold on to baggage from the past. The result is that millions of people have joined martial arts classes in the last decade, and millions have been bored, turned off and then dropped out as a result of unprofessional instruction and poorly designed classes. We must stay proactive in staying ahead of the market trends. Business is dynamic and dynamic means change.
Faced with this market, we must sit down and objectively evaluate our school’s operation. What is the purpose of your school?
Believe it or not this is the main reason why many old timers hold onto their schools, or why the younger instructors want to open a studio. How about these reasons instead for operating a school and keeping tradition alive and well.
Today, the general public is martial arts educated and has a very selfish attitude about training. They don’t care about your rank or titles or championships. They only care about what they or their children are getting out of your classes and the level of service provided. You can have the most exciting history of style roots imaginable, but the fact is that the mom of that eight year old doesn’t care. She simply wants to know, “What have you done for me lately?” So what is the reason for your school?
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This page was last updated on 07/05/07