Are the Teacher’s the Important Ones here?

Sure, but at the same time, your sensei probably realizes that he’s running a business in the U.S. You’re his client and you pay his bills, and because the U.S. is what it is, if he’s too strict, too mean, or too domineering, his students will up and leave. This is why yoga instructors are easier in the U.S. than in India–the student comes first. So in a way, the real world in the U.S. influences the dojo world.

~ Jaehwan, of BigWOWO

This comment was a response to my previous post about the difference between the world of a martial arts school and the “real” world. Jaehawn’s comment is in response to this particular section:

Just because you have something that I don’t (or I wish I did) doesn’t mean I will cater to you – or respect you at all, or cater to your wim.

I didn’t have a very good response in mind for a long time. In retrospect, my wording of my post could have been better and less “punkish” in nature. Therefore I think it’s better if I reiterate what I originally had in mind.


What I had said in my post is an extreme reaction to any particular situation where one would possibility face when a teacher would have significant bad influence over the student. Personally I am at times a worst case scenario thinker. When that happens, I can flip into code red very, very quickly. Call it personal experience.

With that said, what I meant to say is that there is always a student-instructor relationship. My theory is that this relationship is different for every student. There are students who join a dojo/dojung/school for different reasons: fitness, personal enlightenment, trying out new things, all of the above, etc. Each student through their own goals of training come to have their unique relationship to the instructor(s). Like any relationship, it’s a two way street, things are go between these two points (teacher and student).

If it is a one way street or one side becomes dependent on the other in a negative way, then the relationship needs to reexamined.

That was where I was coming from when I said that statement. I hope that none of you were surprised or taken back by that. If so then I extend my sincere apologies.

On a different note, I’d like to shoot something out there: Should martial arts here in the states – and in the “western world” at large – be more teacher centered? I’m speaking from a teacher-in-training where our industry has been very student centered as of late. There was a cartoon that I saw from a year go where it depicted the differences between the experience of teaching in the 1960s and now. According to the cartoon, the teacher and parents berate the student for getting an F on an assignment. Compare that to 2010 where it’s the parents and student berating the teacher(!) for giving the student the F.

I can’t find the cartoon for the life of me, otherwise it’d be on here. In any case, I’m also speaking from my own martial experience; my own two Sensei are very much the “head” of the class and everything is centered around them. I also get the impression that most martial art classes are very much the same; the teacher leads the class and students just follow along. There are subtle differences between arts (Wing Chun for example, the students are allowed to go about their own practice during class), but all in all very much the same.

So should they? I believe it already is. As Jaehwan pointed out, if a teacher is too much on the extremes, then they will lose the business one way or another. That much is true, but I feel that the argument should be framed differently: students come to said teacher(s) for something that they don’t have or that they want to do. If the teacher is too extreme and the relationship is one sided and dependent (or just plain bad), then the student is free to move on. The system allows certain students to stick to certain teachers with whom they can establish a relationship that works for both parties. That’s just me however…

That’s all from me even though I think there’s more to it. Let me know. Till next time.


2 thoughts on “Are the Teacher’s the Important Ones here?

  1. My wife reminded me again last night that I hate teaching. I don’t hate teaching – I hate it when folks don’t practice. I asked her why someone would pay good money and not practice to get better between sessions. She reminded me that she doesn’t practice much between her yoga sessions.

    The issue for me is that my wife not practicing between yoga classes doesn’t directly affect the skill of her instructor. When folks don’t practice and put the time in, I am thus surrounded by slackers and it affects my performance.

    So then…all of a sudden…I hate teaching again. I don’t really know what the answer is. Perhaps not charging money like His Dark Side does – therefore there’s no obligation to teach anybody anything. Perhaps forcing folks into a 6-month break after a time of training when the instructor feels like they are stagnating. Perhaps making money from running a school isn’t possible. Perhaps running a ‘cardio-kickboxing’ class to supplement the income so that an instructor can run a class exactly how they want is a possibility.

    I don’t know. I just can’t figure it all out. Perhaps I’m few and far between: the guy who wants to work hard, train hard, learn and reap some sort of personal reward from the journey.

    1. CTK – I dunno what to say since I’m not at that stage yet. What I can say is from what I’ve heard and observed about my two Sensei, it’s not an easy ride. They’ve both have had to go through their own personal and professional struggles – all in the name of Aikido. Both of them have had their fair share of students who have tested them – those that range from the crazy to passive. I’ve personally observed students who have came and went for various reasons.

      They’re both very dedicated martial artists (80+ years between the two of them). Both work hard, train consistently, and I’m sure they’re learning and renewing themselves everyday. One has been recognized internationally and the other is just getting noticed here in California. Maybe for yourself CTK, perhaps meeting with an older sifu/master/sensei who has been through the ropes could be helpful.

      As for myself – I hope that my own personal training does not reflect badly upon my own masters!

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