For the second time in my life, I’m going to be a full-time martial arts teacher.
It’s a privilege and a responsibility, and not a thing to be taken lightly. Much has changed in me since my first go around. I’m older and more broken, but I’ve learned so much in the intervening time.
There are teachers who think running a school as a business is a way of watering down your art. The valid point they make is that to make money, you have to water down your art. That’s valid in some ways, but it doesn’t consider all the aspects of running a professional martial arts school.
For sure, full-contact boxing, wrestling and swordplay out of the gate is going to make a lot of people stick their head in the door, turn right around and walk away and never come back. Most people will walk away. Hell, some people will walk away if they don’t see that. The character that the majority of classes represent must appeal to most people that have enough interest in martial arts to stick their head in the door.
As a teacher that means that you can’t just do what you want. You need to put some thought into the professional aspect of your presentation. Things must be organized and make sense to a casual eye. Obstacles to participation must be removed. It takes work to find out what those obstacles are and find workarounds for them. Those obstacles don’t affect what you teach as much as they affect how many people you wind up teaching. Not a concern if you are teaching a smaller group of people.
Let’s say we care about teaching a lot of people. That means that my regular classes are more organized to meet the demands of more people. I’m not as able to personalize my teaching. I can’t work on new and interesting things, or decide we all need to work on fixing a hole in our art when such things occur to me. I have to plan such changes, talk them over with the other lead instructors, and work out ways to incorporate those changes.
Is this how I get better as a martial artist? Is this what I started training for? No. And if I get caught up in that part of things, I’m probably not going to be enjoying myself after a while.
Privilege and responsibility. Those are my guiding words going forwards. My students have coughed up money and offered up sweat and effort so that I have the privilege of teaching them. I have a responsibility of being worthy of that collective focus.
I have to be the best martial artist I can be. Having a permanent school means I have the time and place I need to take care of my own training. I have the opportunity to be better than my students not just from experience, but from far greater training time. I have the responsibility of taking advantage of that opportunity.
I’m really looking forward to this chance. My personal education in martial arts has hit a new level in the last while. I’m being exposed to new ways of practicing and thinking about things, and all that holds me back from taking advantage of that is time.
Having a school to teach at not only means having time for my own training, but so much more opportunity to teach new kinds of classes. I’ll have more time for personalized training with those who need it, and a private space where we can train in the really intensive work.
Today it means I woke up with really sore wrists. Got the heavy bag hung last night. Haven’t had a chance to really work one of those in a long time. I may have gone a little overboard. Or it might have been the handstands or the solid run of rapier work last night. I’m really glad I’ve got a little time to adapt before I switch to full time…