With the increase in popularity of the martial arts more and more people are searching for a good karate school and a good instructor. There are many great schools and instructors out there and unfortunately there are as many not so good. How do you tell the difference? What should you look for in a good instructor since the instructor in most cases is the school?
Most prospective students think that the most important thing to look for in an instructor is content knowledge. They want their instructor’s karate to be dynamic, powerful and impressive in every way. This is obviously very important because there is nothing that looks worse than a black belt instructor who can’t deliver the goods when it comes to content. So this quality is definitely high on the list of prerequisites.
However there are other things to look for that may ultimately be even more important to you. Here are some other important points to consider.
Does your instructor have good people skills? This might not seem as important at first because after all you want to learn about the martial arts first and foremost and you’re willing to put forth the effort no matter what. But the instructors who have great people skills are usually the ones who care about their students the most. Generally with this type of instructor your progress will be foremost in their minds and they will do their best to encourage you, give you appropriate feedback and ensure your success in their program.
The opposite type of instructor may well be very good at the martial arts but often seems arrogant, aloof and completely disinterested. It seems like they are more focused on trying to break your spirit for the purpose of showing you how bad you really are. This may or may not be true, and some people react very well to this type of hardcore training but most people don’t do well in this environment. Instead, they need a healthy balance of tough love and positive encouragement. Which type of person are you?
What are your instructor’s qualifications? Again I’m not just talking about their technical skill, although this is important. I’m also talking about other not so obvious qualifications they should have. So instead of just finding out what degree black belt they are, try to find out other things such as how long have they been practicing the martial arts, how long have they been teaching, how often do they go on courses to improve their own skills? Do they have CPR and First Aid qualifications?
Other important qualities include,: Do they do background checks on their assistant instructors? Are they qualified to rank you once you get to black belt? Is their school a part of a larger organization that offers support and guidance to them?
These types of questions don’t always give you the full picture of your instructor’s ability in the martial arts and their level of teaching, but they do give you some idea as to how seriously they take themselves and their school.
What do your instructor’s lessons look like? Does your instructor teach the same thing every lesson? Does your instructor seem disorganized and frazzled? Does each lesson flow from one activity to the next or is it disjointed and confusing? Some of these things are signs that your instructor doesn’t know what they are doing.
Instead your lessons should be more like the following:
- A high-energy and positive environment where the instructor leads by example and models the techniques or drills
- Ample opportunity to practice the techniques and drills in different ways while giving constructive feedback
- Lessons flows seamlessly from one technique to the next and one activity to the next
- The instructor is well-organized and uses multiple teaching methods such as verbal, visual and experiential
- Questions are asked and comments are made to help reinforce the content
- Good discipline is maintained in the class so there are minimal interruptions and students are held accountable for their effort and focus.