Sunday, July 6, 2008

Starting a Martial Arts School: Part One

There are a few different reasons as to why someone would want to start their own Martial Arts school, and in this two part series, I'll examine why people break off from the school at which they currently attend, and how to go about building your own martial arts school/empire.

The first order of business is to examine what makes people decide that they want to break off from their current school, and attempt to start their own "brand" of martial arts. I say this because I don't think that there are a lot of cases where people wake up one morning and decide that they want to start a martial arts school. Like anything in life, you have to have experience with something before you try to do/teach it, and most people are usually martial arts practitioners before they start their own school. With that said, I have two main reasons as to why people desire to start their own martial arts business.

1. They want to take everything they've learned from one or two separate martial arts and combine those aspects into one martial art.
It is my belief that when you reach the levels of black belt and above, you gain a higher understanding for different techniques and their uses. With that said, it becomes easier to experiment with techniques, thus making the practitioner put his or her own "seal" on a certain technique or techniques. If a practitioner has earned a black belt or above in two or more martial arts, it's very easy to understand that that practitioner would inevitably start to blend the two martial arts together. Once this process begins, that practitioner might start thinking about breaking off from their old school and "giving a go" at starting their own school.

Some of these "hybrid" schools are widely successful. For example, C.S. Kim Karate is one such hybrid of Tang Soo Do mostly derived from Tae Kwon Do, but with subtle differences and influences from Kung Fu and Hapkido. Today, C.S. Kim Karate is a global empire who's name is synonymous with martial arts.

It's important to note, however, that some hybrid schools can fail because the techniques are not practical and/or are too difficult to learn. It's important when starting your own school to be sure you recognize and remember what it was like to be a lower level student, just trying to learn the techniques. Part of being a great martial arts teacher is not based on being a great martial artist, but rather being a great teacher. If you can get the techniques across to a seven year old well enough so that he/she can understand and replicate them, then you're on the right track.

2. Practitioners want to get away from the "schtick"
Many of today's modern martial arts are derived from countries outside of the United States. Along with the techniques, come the customs of those other countries. I'm in no way afraid or against other cultures, but I do have a problem with black belts and above who come to the training facility wanting to continue their martial arts journey, only to be told to teach the younger belts. Oh, by the way, the service you provide in helping the instructor teach others often goes unpaid. But, being a good student, you nod and say yes sir/ma'am, because going against your teacher is, after all, disrespectful.

Somewhere along the line I think every black belt reaches a point where they say enough is enough, this is America (or whatever country in which you happen to reside), and I'm tired of following the customs of another country while they reap the benefits of doing business in mine. Thus begins the dream of starting ones own school, where they take everything they've learned from Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, or whatever they art may be, and apply its techniques to the customs of the home country. The result is what I'd like to call a practitioner's school. It consists of all the techniques and know-how, with none of the schtick and or unwanted guilt.

In part two, I'll examine the details and logistics of starting your own school, and explain what has to happen before you even tie the beginners belt on your first student.

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