Thursday, February 16, 2012

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Choose wisely ...

Choosing a place to train can be a difficult choice for those who are unfamiliar with the martial arts landscape. Many people, having little else to go on, make a choice perhaps based on price - or even worse - the rank the instructor is wearing around his waist. Choosing on price is akin to buying a car - there are cheap cars and there are expensive cars - generally, you get what you pay for. Don't expect to be driving off in a mercedes if you are only prepared to pay a KIA price. And making a decision based on rank is usually not the best way to go either - mainly because rank means so very little in today's martial arts world; people are awarding themselves ranks, that are not commensurate with their ability - and certainly the ranks has almost nothing to do with 'teaching skill'. So how does the novice proceed?
People searching for the right martial arts school will ultimately have to ignore the diplomas on the schools wall; look past the shiny marketing pamphlet and make their decision based on what they see, hear and feel. They should look at the kind of people training at the school; and ask themselves if they want to spend time in the company of those people. They should watch a few classes, at more the one school and compare how the instructors relate to and teach their students. They should talk to the instructor and to the best of their ability, convey what they are trying to achieve; a truly professional instructor will try to help them, even if it means sending them elsewhere – (note: this practice is not wide-spread)
In my view, an instructor must embody the concept of excellence. He or she must be excellent at what they do and be excellent in their ability to inspire and guide others toward that same level of excellence (if not surpass it). Further, in my view, an instructor must live congruently – that is, they should display excellence in other areas of their lives as well; not just in their chosen art. Many will disagree with this; but I think it is what really separates the ‘men’ from the ‘boys’. In short, an instructor is a leader; and a big part of real leadership is to be able to inspire others to ‘rise above’ and achieve the ‘extraordinary’. If an instructor cannot ‘rise above’ himself (or herself), in all aspect of their lives, then they are falling short in their understanding of what it means to be a leader. JBW

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4 Comments

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"Do what I say, not what I do!" is all too common, unfortunately.

What some schools forget is that people are smart. People see thru shiney marketing if it has no leg to stand on.

You did hit it on the head when you said that sending students away is not a common practice, when indeed it should be. Wouldn't it be fantastic to, in say 10 yrs from now, read an interview with a champion in an art you don't practice say: "Well, funny story, I went to the wrong school at first but this lovely instructor gave me directions to a different school that offered what I wanted and here I'm national champion!"

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This post is very written. :)

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Anonymous 10:38 pm

I agree totally. Living in a rural area where there isn't a large range of schools and instructors to choose from I have been very fortunate to train with Sam Broughton at Reality MMA. In an area where there is only one school I am very lucky to have a truly professional instructor who is willing to travel and study with the best teachers he can find and bring them here to Port Lincoln to teach his students. I wish the same good fortune for all those who set out to find a school and an instructor. I would also like to say that yes Liam it would be great to hear someone say that they went to a school which wasn't offering what they were looking for and kindly directed them to another more suitable school.

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Anonymous 10:39 pm

I agree totally. Living in a rural area where there isn't a large range of schools and instructors to choose from I have been very fortunate to train with Sam Broughton at Reality MMA. In an area where there is only one school I am very lucky to have a truly professional instructor who is willing to travel and study with the best teachers he can find and bring them here to Port Lincoln to teach his students. I wish the same good fortune for all those who set out to find a school and an instructor. I would also like to say that yes Liam it would be great to hear someone say that they went to a school which wasn't offering what they were looking for and kindly directed them to another more suitable school.

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