Cloning Instructors: Part 1, Physical Fitness


It would be so much simpler if you could pour a magic potion in a mold and clone perfect martial arts instructors. Since that is impossible, the next best strategy is to help your instructors develop the three attributes that create excellence in teaching and motivate students to a life-long commitment to martial arts training and their instructors.

This G.O.L.D. Team Report provides insights and exercises for the first: physical fitness.

If you take a moment to reflect on the martial arts teachers that helped you achieve your success, then you would recognize that they have these three attributes, and they used them to drive you toward your goals.

The students in your school can also sense the competence of their instructors; however, it is more than a different uniform, a patch, a title or being an authority figure that creates competent instructors. It is an understanding of the importance of these three attributes and the willingness to develop them to a superior level. The results are simple, but consistent instructional habits that compel students to return to class, practice what they are taught and develop the same attributes in themselves throughout their lives.

Physical Fitness/Martial Arts Performance and Demonstration

Every martial arts system or program includes primary physical skills that must be continuously practiced and developed. In some programs, it is “locking out” a strong side kick or holding a deep stance. In more active systems, it may be sparring skills or grappling abilities. Although those specific skills are important, your real goal is to create the standards of martial arts excellence for your system.

What are the top three skills that you want your instructors to be able to perform in their role as instructor?

  1. _______________________
  2. _______________________
  3. _______________________

Take the time to consider your answers carefully because they will affect your confidence in your instructors’ ability to perform.

Many people join a martial arts class because it promises to improve their physical fitness. To deliver on that promise, your instructors’ physical presence must attract people to them and provide them with an example of how they want to be in the future. Parents of martial arts students are more assured of your program’s benefits if your instructors are behavioral and physical conditioning role models for their children. Physical conditioning, combined with great energy and a passion for their profession, are the qualities of great instructors.

Your responsibility is to establish standards of physical fitness for your instructors, and then help them reach or exceed those standards, which can take many forms. You can require a specific number of repetitions of push-ups, sit-ups or squats in one set. You can require staff members to commit to a specific quantity of fitness exercises each week. Some schools require their instructors to maintain a specific body composition.

Create a class for your instructors, utilizing the exercises below, to reinforce the importance of physical conditioning and how it contributes to becoming a better martial artist and instructor.

Start the class with an overview of this first attribute (physical fitness) you want to develop in your instructors.

“During today’s class, we will concentrate on developing your physical fitness as an important component of martial arts training. This class will help us both to assess your physical conditioning and discover how to improve it. I will ask you to perform (insert a specific physical skill from your system). Make sure you give 100% to your class performance as you always do.”

Exercise 1: 15 minutes

Start the class with a high-energy warm-up. Choose an exercise that will start their blood flowing and hearts pumping.

Exercise 2: 15 minutes

Choose an activity in which you want your team to excel, and have them perform it. Critique their performances clearly. Explain the standards you want them to maintain. Make sure to correct them in the same manner that you want them to correct their students in a typical class (Actions are caught before they are taught.).

Exercise 3: 15 minutes

Use the final 15-minute exercise to discuss the importance of performing their martial arts skills in a superior manner. Stress the importance of being a student first, and then an instructor. Describe in detail the fitness standards you want them to maintain. Remember, your instructors have a range of natural abilities, so develop flexible physical fitness standards that allow everyone to achieve your expectations.

To help your team become better instructors, emphasize that superior abilities are not enough. They must also develop a passion for excellence, a willingness to help their students succeed and a genuine caring attitude. They must demonstrate these three qualities on the floor during every class they teach.

NAPMA Leadership Program