What is your role as a self-defense instructor?

In the twenty years that I have been teaching self-defense I have literally come into contact with thousands of students. From children, teenagers, young adults, middle aged adults and older adults, men and women. I have had students who have been blessed with natural athletic abilities and some who have had to work really hard to move forward.

When I first started my dojo back in 1992 I was only 24 years old and was used to the crash and bang style I had grown up doing. After operating for a few years I quickly realized that the blow throw blow attitude I had about training was not going to be conducive for all students. I still remember one female student who was in her late 40s, had 2 bad knees and other aches and pain on a daily basis. She was already a black belt in karate and had devoted the past 4 years to her learning. Remember when I said some people had to work hard to learn, she worked hard. There were a couple of areas in which she excelled and hardly matched, that was her enthusiasm, dedication and heart. When I promoted her to black belt a few of the other newly promoted black belts questioned her exam. You see she had not perform to the exact same standard as they had. It should be noted that those commenting were in their mid 20s, with natural ability and limited martial arts experience.

I explained to them that indeed they had performed an above average test but that each person must also be judged on their own performance. Did she match their test, no, but did she perform to her highest abilities, indeed she did.

I currently have a potential student who has come to class and expressed that he really enjoyed what he learned and say. I received an email from him advising he wants to come back but that he doesn’t want to drag the class down. He is a little older then most students but appears to have the desire to learn.

If you want to learn, I want to teach.

You see my role as a self-defense (jiu-jitsu) instructor is to teach people to protect themselves, this means whoever walks into my dojo and expresses the right reasons for wanting to take lessons. It is not to judge them as they walk into the school and predict that this person will never be a star black belt. My job is to teach them in order for them be the best they can be. Their job is to give me all they have, enthusiasm, attention, sweat, blood, tears….what ever it takes to learn. If we tell them not to bother because they will not achieve black belt then I think we are doing a dis-service.

That being said I do have to take into account the individual’s safety in relation to the type of training we do. If the potential student is physically not able to participate and I need to modify my lessons beyond the norm then I would have to discuss with the individual other options.

If they give me what I ask for then a black belt in not out of reach, it just might take a little longer. Will it be pretty maybe not but it doesn’t need to be pretty, it needs to be effective.

How do you see your role as a self-defense instructor?

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2 thoughts on “What is your role as a self-defense instructor?

  1. I think my role as a self defence instructor is to not only give my students the skills that would help them survive in a violent encounter but also to give them a level of self confidence and a feeling of having just a little more control over their environment. However with giving them self confidence I have to make sure I balance it with understanding how unpredictable and chaotic violence is. I don’t want to feed into the overconfidence you see many martial artists walk around with. I think that on some level this is available to most people regardless of physical ability. Remember though, self defence skills are much more than fighting skills….awareness, life skills, communication skills etc are probably more important than fighting skills when it comes to self defence.

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