Leading Classes in America

While many of the martial arts originated in Korea or Japan, the societies in these countries and the United States are very different.  Yet, many American instructors continue to have students line up by rank and sex with men first, boys second, women third and girls last.


Ken with his sons, nieces and nephews.

While this line up would be normal and expected in Korea, it does not match American society at all.  At our school, whoever lines up first at each rank is first.  I would explain to the students if they travel to Korea to train that they should know how they would be expected to line up but it is not an acceptable practice in the United States.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu did away with a lot of this formality also because it was a wall not a bridge to their students.

I cringe at instructors who bark orders at their students or worse yet, beat up their students.  The student paid to come and learn from you.  You should be a teacher, guide and coach.  They did not sign up to be ordered around by a drill instructor.  If you have a 70% attrition rate, you might be that guy or girl.

Beating up students is an abomination.  Your students trust you.  You should never break this trust.  The tendency of many people to sue nowadays eliminated a lot of these practices but they still occur.  If we are practicing something dangerous, I will be the uke or the one the technique is practiced on.  I know how to protect myself much better than my students do.

Tradition definitely has its place in martial arts.  I don’t have an issue with how some instructors cherish the traditions.  I only have an issue when they try to force a societal construct on their students, which does not exist in our multicultural society.  Some food for thought.

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