Why Do You Teach? Martial Arts Instructors Share

By Michael Hodge | Instructors

Feb 01

Before you become a professional martial arts teacher, you need to ask the question: “Why will you teach?” Or, if you are already an instructor, ask yourself the question: “Why do I teach?”

It is easy to be sidetracked by the daily grind of running a martial arts business. Phone calls, working with employees, payroll, cleaning the school, planning classes, handling accounting, marketing, and all the others tasks. We might fade away from our roots, and forget why we began teaching.

When you realize your why – the how, the what, and the who can fall into place much more easily. Imagine you are a fledgling martial arts black belt and want to start your own school. Are you going to be the best olympic Taekwondo school in the state? Are you going to help kids become more focused? Are you going to get adults into great shape and be street safe? You need to know why you do what you do. If you don’t have a good answer to the why, you will just bounce around from one idea, to another, to one style of teaching to another – without a backbone.

I asked a handful of certified Global Martial Arts Association instructors the question, “Why do you teach?”, and here are their answers:

Leo Grant, Tobago Shotokan Spirit Warriors

“Teaching for me is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to share my passion with others. It’s an opportunity to learn from those I teach. And it’s an opportunity to help others find out that they are worth more than they think and that we all are great at something.”

Rick Langevoort, Genwakai Mexico

I teach because it is a good way to improve my own skills and knowledge. Different people ask different questions, so one is forced to go deeper into the material. And by explaining techniques and checking upon others performing the techniques you have to think about them more (and differently) than when you just do what you are told to do. Also, what I teach (Genwakai Karate, Ultimate Bo and Ultimate Chuks) does not exist where I live, so teaching it is the only way to train together with others. And, of course, it is just very nice to teach something you love to do yourself and see the progress of your students into the material you teach.

Thomas W Strahan, Strahan’s Karate Center

I have been teaching for 25 years now.  What keeps me going is my desire to help others.  Either through teaching self defense, achieving a personal goal by earning a black belt or getting into better shape or just building confidence and self control.  This is what has kept me going. I believe that martial arts is for everyone, but unfortunately not everyone can stick with it. But for those that can I hope that I can add something positive that will help make a difference in their life.

Dustin Koppel, Global Martial Arts University & National Martial Arts

I was presented with a question of why do I teach. It’s quite simple actually. The answer is why don’t I teach. The impact made on children, the confidence instilled in adults, the fact they can defend themself. The weight loss goals achieved, the children’s report cards because they learned they can focus, the effect we make on the community, watching the eyes of a child when they receive a new belt, the glow on the face of a student when they get their first submission, now with GMAU spreading all of that all throughout the world, and it all boils down to one simple thing: empowering lives through the martial arts. There’s no other career choice like it. I wouldn’t change the fact I teach for anything in the world.

Jesus Garcia, Fusion Combat Training Center

As a martial artist, I’ve experienced many of the physical, social, emotional, & mental benefits that learning a self-defense system can bring. I teach to bring that same experience to others. Because I believe each person is worth defending, I teach to demonstrate the value of human life. I teach to inspire growth, purpose, and empowerment within my community, one person at a time.

Michael Hodge, Global Martial Arts University

I want to help my students on their individual path of self-mastery. Self mastery is about shedding away the unnecessary blockage to our best true self. I don’t want to sound too esoteric or fluffy here. What I mean, is that I realize that in the 21st century, my main teaching goal is not to prepare my students for combat in actual warfare. Thankfully, we live in a safer world today, and, warfare tends to happen with more advanced weaponry anyways. I realize that students don’t have to do martial arts, in most cases. They could achieve similar fitness goals by running or lifting weights or another type of exercise. They could learn to defend themselves with a knife or a gun.

But, the martial arts have historically allowed for a student to challenge their mind, body, and some would even say spirit in a unique crucible. The type that includes several levels. There are peaks, valleys, and plateaus on the journey to black belt, as there are on the true journey or self-mastery. This deep why gives me purpose which renews my efforts daily. This deep purpose cuts through criticism, judgment, and fear – because it is worth it to know that I helped my students in such a worthy cause. A cause that extends beyond what the eye can see or the mind can understand.

So, why do you teach? Tell us your true purpose in the comments below! And, look out for our groundbreaking Certified Martial Arts Teacher™ Course and Certification which is now available. This is an incredibly comprehensive educational program for aspiring martial arts instructors, which gives you the training and certification required to open your own school or just further your knowledge as a martial artist.

About the Author

I am a Lead Instructor at the Global Martial Arts University. I live with my three energetic kids on a prairie in Texas. I also lead The Abundance Projects.

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(2) comments

Mark van den berg February 3, 2019

Ever since I read my first Judo manual at the age of 12 I realized that I was fascinated with the technical aspect of the martial arts.Through the years I discovered the deeper aspects through the training of Kung fu and Tai Chi.

For some reason that I cannot explain I felt a calling to teach and opened my own Kung fu school. Its really a labour of love for me and the more I can empower people to defend themselves The more the teaching draws me in.

Nothing gives me more satisfaction than teaching and developing kids.
Luckily enough I have a natural way of coming down to the level of children and teach them with love ,humour and compassion. This for me yields amazing results as I don’t believe in teaching in a heavy handed authoritarian way.
Seeing my kids becoming well rounded confident individuals has to be the biggest reward of all time.

    Michael Hodge February 4, 2019

    What a fantastic answer, thanks for sharing Mark. I also really love to work with kids. Their level of fascination and energy is coupled with an obvious gratitude every time you teach a class with them. I also like knowing that I am actually helping to mold them into hopefully better future versions of themselves, in a way that playing a videogame, watching youtube videos, or perhaps even playing a different sport could not do.

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