So we went to a local karate school for an introductory lesson. (Cue the foreboding music)
I don’t actually remember much about it except for two events. First, my Dad took the class with me and that was really cool. Second, the instructor completely mishandled us and lost a great opportunity. After that first lesson, my Dad and I never went back.
Now just let that sink in. I am presently a 4th Degree Black Belt and I’ve been a Certified Instructor for 15 years. Clearly, I’m the kind of person for whom the martial arts holds appeal. I have the temperament, the physical capability, and an obvious desire.
So why didn’t my my lesson #1 result in a lesson #2?
Because the instructor was an arrogant, militaristic, bully. He was more interested in forcing me to understand how long the journey would be, how unworthy I was of his time, and how tough I wasn’t. Jerk.
I hate to admit this, but the martial arts have a lot of bullies. These are tough guy wanna-bees who proffer the notion that being unapproachable is measure of skill. These blowhard head cases act as if karate is best taught to students that are either socially clueless or are as narcissistic as the instructors.
One of the most impressive things I have ever witnessed, and this only came after I tried karate a second time as an adult, was the real honest humbleness of my instructor, Master Joe Bruno, and his instructor, Grand Master C. S. Kim. These are two guys who can actually wipe the floor with you - but are in every sense of the words, gentle men.
My very first instructor represented everything bad about the industry. I hope the exposure of daylight fades all his karate belts into a medium beige, his trophies melt into golden globs of goo, and his floor mats turn to moistened tar. I wish for his school to go broke. I’d hate to think he’s still out there poisoning the populous of impressionable souls.
Don’t put up with an instructor who isn’t approachable, kind, and gentle. Being trained in the martial arts should cause a person to become at ease with the world around them, not tougher and more abrasive. What does it say about a defensive discipline if the master you follow is unable to present themselves without fear, trepidation, or suspicion.
Good instructors don’t need to intimidate.