How to Choose a Martial Arts School for Children Part 2

Part 2 of 4

2) Who is the right instructing team for my child?

A lot of the articles I’ve read talk about finding the “right instructor.” While that carries merit, I would like to take that one step further. A professional school should have a team of qualified, professional instructors to teach the students to ensure teaching to multiple personality types and keep an appropriate instructor-to-student ratio.

Some key criteria include:

  • Experience and training working with children

Often times martial arts instructors are quick to claim the amount of years training in the martial arts. But as we know, training in something doesn’t mean you’re good at it. For example, some of the greatest professional athletes have turned out to be horrendous coaches! Just because you’ve graduated high school, it doesn’t mean you can teach high school. The same concept applies to martial arts. Just because you have trained for over 20 years in the martial arts doesn’t mean you’re a great teacher.

The better question is to ask, “What experience and training do you have in working with children?” At American Martial Arts Academy, all of our instructors go through a 2-3 year “Instructor College” in which they learn how to work with children of all ages, special needs, physical challenges, and much more. In addition to classroom training, instructors go through hands-on training supervised by one of the Senior Instructor before being allowed to work with the students. In addition, each instructor is CPR/First-Aid trained and certified.

  • Do degrees matter? What about tournament wins?

Rank does matter to an extent. All Head instructors should be Black Belts at a minimum of Second Degree Black Belt. The other instructors may vary depending on the school. Each degree is significant to that martial artist’s own training, as it resembles years and years of hard work, but it does mean anything when it comes to that instructor’s ability to work with children.

What matters more than how many stripes are on the Head Instructor’s Black Belt is whether or not the Head Instructor is still learning. Shihan Wenneberg, my teacher, always taught us that the moment he stops learning is the moment to stop following him and run in the other direction.
A lot of instructors also advertise their tournament wins and experience. Again, kudos to those instructors for that significant accomplishment, but when it comes to teaching children, that means very little. Unless your goals (see step 1) are specifically to become a UFC fighter.

  • Who actually teaches the classes?

Often times the person who signs you up may not be teaching the classes. That’s not necessarily the worst thing, but it’s important to be aware of. You want to make sure that the person actually teaching the classes is as professional and well-trained as the person signing you up. The message should be consistent throughout the school, no matter who you talk to.

Bottom line, you want an instructor that is going to motivate and inspire your child. Think back to when you were in school. Most of us learned best from the teachers we liked and respected the most. Generally, that isn’t an instructor who’s a drill sergeant all the time, or a jokester all the time, but someone with a personality you and your child can relate to. Trust your gut!
Stay tuned – Part 3 coming soon!

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