In this episode, Jeremy talks about the ups and downs of having a Martial Arts School and answers the question of why to start a martial arts school.
Why to Start a Martial Arts School – Episode 255
It’s the start of a new year and some of you may think of something like starting a martial arts school. It’s both fun and hard-work at the same time because of many factors. On today’s episode, Jeremy discusses about why is it good to start a martial arts school and why it isn’t as well as his personal experiences on handling his own martial arts school. For people who would like to start teaching in their own school, listen to learn more!
You can read the transcript below or download here.
Hey everyone thanks for tuning this is whistlekick a martial arts radio episode 255. Releasing sometime in early 2018 but you may be checking out some other time because when we produce the shows, we try to do them in a way that they will last, that they’ll be relevant into the future. Sometimes we talk about specific things that are going on, but those are rarely the heart of what we’re talking about on any of these episodes. Here we are talking about why you should or maybe shouldn’t open a martial arts school.
If you knew the show, my name is Jeremy, I am the host, I’m the founder of whistlekick sparring gear apparel and you can find everything that we make at whistlekick.com you can find the other episodes of the show whistlekickmartialartsradio.com and I hope that you do because we have a lot of great stuff over there. You can set up for the newsletter, you can check out all the other 254 episodes with links and photos and videos and just some absolutely wonderful stuff that we’ve got in the show notes. We try to make the show notes worth checking out. If you’re someone who listens to us in the car or if you just never been to the website, please check out I think you can find some stuff over there that you enjoy.
Let’s talk about today’s topic opening a martial arts school why you should do it and I guess to counter why maybe you shouldn’t do it. Some of you know, I used to have a karate school I came out of college and moved to a small town in Vermont and I said you know, there’s no karate around here. I want some karate, I want karate in my life and I receive permission for my instructors that was important to me so I started a small school and I think we peaked between the adult and the youth classes. I think we peaked somewhere around 35-40 total somewhere in there. Certainly, a lot for the space that we had and it was a lot for me as a solo instructor with no assistants and it was a lot of fun I did it for a couple years. But then I realized it was time to stop and it was a very, very hard decision and the reason I stopped was because I was building a business. I was building my past company in technology and getting up 4-5-6 in the morning spending you know, 10 to 12 or longer hour day, every day, there wasn’t much left of me to work with my students and one of the things it was really important to me was that when I taught my students I gave them 100 percent. And they were so loyal that I knew that even if I was consistently coming in at 80 percent or even 50 percent, they weren’t gonna go anywhere I felt guilty about that. That wasn’t okay by me. So, I turned them loose. Gave them a little better notice, I wish I could’ve given the more and said the school is closing and I hope that you will continue your training elsewhere, some of them did some of them didn’t. I still see some of them from time to time they’re all wonderful people and as many of you know I went off and ultimately started training elsewhere because I found that for my life, as much as I enjoy teaching, I need the ability to teach when I had the time so I could give my hundred percent versus having a fixed schedule where I had to show up even if I wasn’t at hundred percent. And that story is probably not any of your story, it might be, maybe you have a similar story but the key is that’s my story. Those were my reasons for starting the school and I didn’t really tell you I started the school but those are my reasons for stopping the school.
Why did I start teaching? Because I felt like it was an appropriate next step in my training. One of the things that’s really important when you consider opening a martial arts school and I’m sure quite a few of you out there already have your own martial arts school. The reasons that we open these schools, the reasons we teach, they’re different for each of us and as with many of the things we say on the show there aren’t right reasons, there aren’t wrong reasons. The only truly wrong reasons are those that are inconsistent with your own values and I struggled but I came up with a couple examples. If you reduce the standards that you want to hold your students to so you can collect belt fees because your financial situation dictates that, that’s a wrong reason have a school. That’s the wrong reason to teach. If your teaching material that you don’t want to or don’t believe you’re qualified to teach, that would be wrong but beyond that if what you’re doing lines up with your beliefs, if you go to sleep at night and you feel that you have made the world in the martial arts realm a better place, then do it. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks differently, this is a place, this is subject were so many of us get bogged down in lineage and qualifications and everything else. There is no governing body for all of martial arts that says, you can teach and you can’t teach. Sure, within so some systems there are, sure there are plenty of people who you know, probably shouldn’t be teaching. They probably need more experience. I’ve also known just as many, if not more, folks who are fully qualified to share their knowledge but don’t believe that they are. And the subject gets so controversial, there are people out there who think teaching for money is wrong. And then the exact opposite is true, there are people who think teaching for free is wrong. Some people think, that if you’re going to teach martial arts, it should be your full-time career, you should dedicate 100% of your time to it. And then there are others who think that you should have a full-time job that covers all of your expenses so that you’re not tempted to compromise your values as it relates to teaching. That example I gave earlier of you know maybe shortchanging the standards so you can bump somebody up in and collect the belt testing fee. Every bit of this is subjective. There really is no wrong. As many of you may know, as a business owner, I’m a bit of a free market economy sort of guy. I believe that the best will rise up and the lesser will fall away. I would love to see multiple martial arts schools in every town across the globe. Some of them are to be really good, some of them are going to be terrible and most of them will be okay. People will end up at the ones that they belong at, some folks will be exposed to martial arts that otherwise wouldn’t, but the key is it’s not okay for you to dictate someone else’s reasons for teaching just as they shouldn’t say why you can or cannot, should or should not open a martial arts school. It’s one of the most subjective things in the martial arts, when and how and why to teach.
I have five reasons here that I’ll go into. Five reasons why you may consider teaching the martial arts. The first one, to give back, to spread the martial arts. A lot of us feel some kind of duty, because the martial arts has changed our lives in so many ways, it’s been so impactful for so many that we feel an obligation to continue the tradition to share with the next generation. That was admittedly one of the reasons I chose to teach and that is the heart of why I still teach today. No, I don’t teach at my own school, but I teach at other school. Some of you listening, know I’ve been your school to teach. Those of you that would like to have me out to teach, reach out, you know, we can probably work something out. I don’t do it for money. For those of you that by the outside of New England, I eternally ask that you help me cover the expenses of coming to teach at your school. 2018, there’s actually a fair amount of teaching going on so you know, maybe we’ll get a tour together. Another great reason and under discussed reason for teaching, to develop your own skills. I don’t know about you, but most of the folks I’ve spoken with who have spent a good amount of time teaching know, that it has made them better in their own practice. I learned more in the two years I had my martial arts school than at any other two-year period, probably than another five or 10-year period of my training. It was amazing. When you teach people, they come up with a million and one ways to do things wrong. Ways you never if it anticipated. You can’t go through and list off all the million and one ways to not do something that takes too much time. So, you get really efficient at explaining how to do things, how to keep people motivated, it’s a wonderful learning experience and I am a better martial artist in my own right because of the time I’ve spent teaching. And that’s part of why I continue to teach because it continues to make me a better martial artist. Similar to our first reason to give back is to improve the lives of others. Not every person that you teach is going to become a black belt very few of them will reach that pinnacle, very few of those black belts will ever open their own school. So, it’s not just a generational thing sometimes it’s about knowing that even for an hour the people who come into your training space have a better day, a better life. Whether they’re escaping from something or their developing their own personal approach to life or maybe they’re learning the skills to defend themselves 20 years from now. Those are all wonderful reasons and you get the opportunity to help improve their lives in those ways and that ability to serve is so satisfying. It’s something that I treasure about teaching. Another great reason to open your martial arts school, to have a career that you truly passionate about. When you own a business, you learn a ton of stuff. Whether you open a martial arts school or a computer store or I don’t know, an online business selling grass clippings to people in really cold, remote areas that don’t have grass. I’m pretty sure that’s not a business. But maybe it is, maybe it could be. When you have a business you learn a lot, you learn a lot about the way the world works and finances and the legal system and it is tremendously educating. But when you open a business that relates to something that is core to who you are, it allows you to dedicate that much more of your soul to it because you’re passionate about it. To have a career that you love your passion about there is, there are very few things that are better than that. If you love martial arts and you haven’t found something else that you love is much as martial arts, maybe you should be a martial arts school owner. And the last one not because it’s the most important, but because it’s important to say, to make money. If you’re good at what you do, if you’re a good instructor and you have the ability to open a school, you want to open a school and you can make some money doing it, you should consider it. One of the greatest things in the world is when someone offers something, whether it be a good or service, you know, some kind of product and the person paying for it feels like they’re getting the better end of the deal and the person offering it feels like they’re getting the better end of the deal. You talk to the best martial arts instructors across the board, at least the ones I’ve spoken with, and I’ve talked to quite a few, they feel like they have an amazing job. They feel sometimes, guilty that people will pay them to teach them martial arts and I certainly had those moments when I had my school. I was becoming a better martial artist, sharing something I was so passionate about and I made money doing it. It was incredible. You’ve heard me say on the show if you been listening for a little while, I do have an utterly amazing job, I’m not teaching martial arts in the way that I used to, but in a sense, I am still sharing some of my knowledge. I’m sharing some of the connections to other people that I’ve gained and hopefully you learn from your time with this show. That’s incredible. I get something out of it, you get something out of it, you don’t have to pay for it, but because of the tie between the show and whistlekick.com, it does indirectly make money. Everyone wins. And those of the best sort of business relationships to be in. I love it.
If your school owner, I would love to know why you started your school and why you keep it going. Because those might be two different answers. If you’re considering opening a school, I would love to know why it’s something that you want to do and I would love to know why you haven’t done it yet.
Feel free to reach out to us on social media @whistlekick, Facebook twitter Instagram are the main places. You can comment on the show notes for this episode 255 at whistlekickmartialartsradio.com or if you want your comments to be private, you can email me [email protected] I appreciate your time, I hope you got something out of today’s episode. This was kind of a fun walk down memory lane and I’m gonna be honest, makes me a little itchy to start teaching formally again. That training space that I’ve got a hundred feet away, maybe I’ll do something with that. We’ll see. That’s all for today, until next time, train hard, smile and have a great day.