Are You a Certified Martial Arts Teacher? Or Just an Average Martial Arts Instructor?

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To rephrase the question, have you invested in your own education as a teacher, or do you just run classes? When you began as a martial artist, you were gung-ho about your training, and wanted to learn every little detail you could about the art. You probably stayed after class to talk to your instructor, attended every special event and seminar, and read books to dig even deeper. You were a true student of the art. Then you got your black belt. This passion for training and learning more as a student may or may not have continued since you began to teach others. That is great. But, have you invested this same energy into being a world-class teacher?

What is an “Average Martial Arts Instructor?”

Most martial arts instructors did not have a formal education related to teaching their style. They did not earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in martial arts education from a renowned university. Many did not even go through an organized teacher’s college or instructor training program. I am not trying to beat you down, we all were brought up how we were brought up. We should all have great gratitude towards our teachers. But, it is also foolish to gloss over a gaping hole in your own personal knowledge and training.

Most of us simply teach how our instructors taught us. We run class the same way, we probably follow the same warm up structure, and do the same type of drills. We might pick up some new ideas from seminars or conferences, but overall, don’t waver much. The lack of focus on our own education as a teacher can hold us back from unlocking deep potential in our students, and in our own success as a martial arts instructor.

What is a “Certified Martial Arts Teacher?”

So, are you a Certified Martial Arts Teacher, or just an average martial arts instructor? Do you want to change that, or do you even care?

A Certified Martial Arts Teacher is an individual who has completed a very detailed, challenging, thought-provoking, reflective, and engaging course of study. Not only have they completed the course, but they have passed all assignments and the final teaching exam and have been awarded the title of: C.M.A.T.

“Hey, why haven’t I heard of this CMAT thing before?” It didn’t exist. The martial arts industry has been skating by for the last century simply teaching the techniques. Of course, many natural teachers have surfaced who have changed countless lives. But, we shouldn’t fall back on luck or natural skill, when there is an obvious set of principles and knowledge that can take a martial artist’s teaching abilities to the next level.

In almost every industry that involves providing a meaningful service to their clients, that industry has developed a sort of certification or license that is required to do business. Does this regulation help or hurt that industry? It becomes quite apparent that by raising the standards of education required for those involved, the entire industry gives itself a better reputation and attracts more and more people to their cause.

Now is the Time to Elevate Our Standards

As martial arts teachers, we deserve the respect and even earning potential that goes along with the deep impact we make in the lives of our students. Sometimes we serve as a life coach, self protection instructor, personal trainer, and psychologist all in one! By investing in our own education, and creating a new standard in our world, we are showing prospective students that we take their own student journeys seriously.

What Separates a CMAT from an Average Instructor?

A Certified Martial Arts Teacher will learn a great deal in a short period of time, in an intensive short burst of learning, engagement, and encouragement from their cohort. Let’s go over a few advantages that CMAT graduates have over most instructors:

Understanding Why You Teach

This is one of the first important lessons that we discuss in the CMAT course. If you don’t know your own instructor purpose, personal mission statement, and instructor vision – all of your actions will be like random puzzle pieces that don’t fit. You need to begin with the end in mind. What is it all for? By taking the time to reflect on the change you are looking to make in your students, your own life, and your community, you will be on the right foot, immediately. And, by setting an instructor vision, you are painting a picture for your own future and the future of your school.

Studying the Learning Process

How does someone actually learn a martial arts technique? What is the best way to teach a 4 year old versus an 11 year old? How can you best accommodate an auditory learner or a student with sensory issues? By going into the pedagogy of martial arts, CMAT graduates are better equipped with the knowledge required to create effective class plans, and deliver those classes with meaning. Rather than just assuming everyone learns the way I do, we can step up to the stage as a professional teacher, not just a mentor or fitness instructor.

Psychology of Motivation and Achievement

How do you define that a student is being successful? Why do students quit? What is the best testing and rank recognition system? In the CMAT course, we have many lessons pertaining to the psychology of a student. We need to see from our students’ eyes what a fun class looks like, how something can be challenging enough without horrifying, and how it feels to be noticed. CMATs not only understand, but get real practice putting these concepts into play while teaching students. They also receive constructive feedback directly from their instructor while engaging throughout the course.

Organizing Curriculum and Testing

Most “average martial arts instructors” simply teach with the same curriculum and follow the same testing cycle as their own instructor did. Now, I realize that some associations place stringent requirements on when specific forms are to be taught, or how long a wait must take place between tests, etc. What we CMATs know, is that there is always some room for creativity and innovation. By innovating the curriculum layout, and thinking far into the future (such as 3-5 years from now), a Certified Martial Arts Teacher can improve the delivery of the material, and also create a situation where they can grow to a much larger student size. The course discusses linear curriculum, rotating curriculum, using different programs, formats for class plans, and various forms of testing students.

Timeless Business Practices

CMATs don’t rely on flavor-of-the-month marketing practices. They don’t get caught up with the trends and the ideas that everyone is buzzing about. Yes, certain contemporary actions can lead to good results. But, within the course, the candidates were introduced to a few timeless marketing, business operation, and pricing strategies that will never go out of style. These are concepts that paradoxically require much less money and effort, but they do require standards. The standards of always maintaining a gorgeous, clean facility. The standards of doing the emotional labor of connecting with every student and every parent that walks through the door for class. The standards of thinking creatively about their curriculum design and class planning. The things that “average martial arts instructors” don’t want to deal with. They would prefer to just hire a marketer to drive new students to their school, even if they are simply going to quit soon thereafter.

A Respectable Professional Qualification

Certified Martial Arts Teachers can proudly display their plaque certificate to their students. They can feel confident in knowing that they have been awarded a teaching qualification from an international association. In an industry where the majority of their competition have little to no teachers education, they can stand proud and receive the respect of their community. Not just because they hold a title – but because they embody the title, and enliven it with something that has really meaning.

Are you ready to become a CMAT? Enroll into the Certified Martial Arts Teacher course now to level-up and begin changing lives through the martial arts.

Written by Michael Hodge
I am a Lead Instructor at the Global Martial Arts University. I live with my three energetic kids and wonderful wife on a prairie in Texas. I also lead The Abundance Projects.