If You've Been "My Student," or I've Been an Influencer of Yours, Here's the Take-Away.
TITLE: If you are "my student." Or, if what I know and have done or have learned along the way in my own journey --has affected you in yours. Or in other words, this is how I hope I've affected and/or influenced you.
If I have been a part of the "village" that has helped and/or supported you in your own quest to be a martial arts teacher --these are some of the things I hope you've learned from my experience:
1. Your own personal performance, as an athlete, is level 1 of your work; level 2 is how you inspire the same passions in those you are lucky enough to influence; level 3 is found in how you define the mission statement of your school (which is made up of you and your students), as in "this is why we're here, in business, and this is what we stand for"; and level 5, the highest level --is in how you inspire your students to take what you practice on your mats --and put it to work, in the community ("in the world"), to the benefit of other people, places, and things. In other words: How your students manifest, in their lives off the mats, what is taught --and practiced --on the mats.
2. Self-defense isn't only about hand to hand combat; physical self-defense is one very, very small part of the "pie," that is self-defense in today's world. Real and relevant "self-defense" is made up of things involving attitude and perspective; food production; distribution, and diet; environmentalism; sustainable living; politics; social justice; community engagement and activism; education; compassion and kindness; and --of course --dealing with the issues that involve, at least, the top 10 things that actually kill people in today's world.
3. The management of your "business," as a master teacher, is a process of living and breathing equitable, sustainable, and ethical business objectives and practices. The "martial arts industry" does not always promote or endorse practices that esteem our work --and so it is up to us / you to embrace and promote the best-of-the-best, the most fair and ethical, the smartest and most sustainable of intention, methods, and practices in your work. You could --and should --be a living and working example of "how it should be done," so that your work not only represents the martial arts world in its best light, but that serves as an example to other school owners.
4. In the process of promoting your school / work, it is vital to transform from a promise-based teacher or entity to an evidence-based teacher. Everyone makes promises about the benefits of studying and practicing the martial arts, as promising and selling the sizzle is as easy as making a post on social media. But to become an evidence-based teacher, one must document and record how one's students --and the school in general --are manifesting the ideas and practices done on the mats, in the real world. If you can't SHOW the world what your work produces, then you resign yourself to the ranks of all those who make promises, but who have no proof that they can actually make the promises real. In the end, if you've learned from what I've learned, you're not out to produce "black belts," --you inspire change-makers; so, it's fair to ask, where is the evidence that you can do this? This is your job. This is how you produce income for you and your team. This is how you challenge yourself beyond the "norm" in our world.
5. One aspect of self-defense that is potent and important --is that you would do well to be mindful of the people you spend your time with, as they can (and will) have a profound effect on your goals, beliefs, ambitions, and attitude.
6. Making money is vital to surviving in today's world, but making it isn't the fuel that best drives our machines. Attitude, education, contribution, humility, and engagement are the raw materials that make earning a living a thing of beauty and grace. Letting money-focus become a primary driving force in your work, is like making cane sugar your primary dietary energy source; it works in the short term, but the long term consequences are debilitating.
7. While "taking the work out of the dojo and into the world" is an empowering objective, we must also seek to bring the world into the dojo. Teaching the martial arts in a way that is relevant to the world as it is today --and not becoming absorbed in the classical mess that "traditionalism" can often embrace, is vital to helping the work of the martial arts teacher evolve and stay meaningful and influential. If you don't grow, we won't grow.