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11 reasons why it sucks to be a martial arts sensei, instructor, coach or teacher - Page 2/2

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11 reasons why it sucks to be a martial arts sensei, instructor, coach or teacher
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6- People tend to disappear without a word


Photo taken from Paul Robinson / wikipedia common; modified by Hao Wong

Despite the appearance of the contrary, most martial arts instructors have feelings. To them, each student is like a piece raw material which he forms and sculpts into a fine vessel of martial art abilities. As such, they tend to get attached to their best students and feel helpless and disappointed if the student leaves before reaching his full potential.

To make matters worse, many students leave without explanation and sometimes without even warning the teacher of his permanent departure.


7- Demands high level of dedication

Until the instructor trains students long enough to have trusted and technically advanced students, he is likely going to have to run the show on his own. That means he needs to come at least fifteen minutes before each class to open the doors, wait till all his students leave after the class to clean up, sometimes meaning he gets to stay at the training hall for up to an hour after class has finished to finally close the school.

Unlike his students, the instructor does not have the luxury to skip a practice because the weather is nice and he doesn’t feel like locking himself in with a bunch sweaty people. In order for his school to function properly, he needs to be present at least most of the time. Should he take time off for any reason, he would have to find a suitable replacement willing to take his place, which isn’t always easy.


8- Teaching means less time to train

The only certain fairness shared amongst human beings of all age is the amount of time per day they possess. Chances are, instructors have a life outside of the training hall, meaning their work, family and friends take up most of their time. Only what little remaining time they have left can be dedicated to either practicing or teaching martial arts. In other words, unless they can free up more time to assign to martial arts, their training time will decrease as their teaching time increases.


9- Additional stress caused by local regulations, insurance, rent, tuition collecting, marketing

Properly teaching martial arts novice, making sure they have a solid foundation already requires lots thoughts and energy from the instructor.  It is safe to assume instructors would do without the additional burden that all schools of any type of organized activities have to go through.

Painkillers may be required to deal with the headaches
photo taken from Ragesoss / wikipedia commons
  • Local regulations: School owners have to make sure the building is which their training hall is well maintained that fire escapes are properly designated, that the air quality respects the norms etc. If non conform, they may expose themselves to fines. If they are leasing the room, then they have to make sure that the building owner conforms to the regulation.

Other regulation they need to be careful for include any health and sport activity related laws that their locality may have.

  • Tuition collecting: Like any merchant, the instructor has to make sure he is duly paid, which not only means getting paid in totality and on time, but also making sure that checks do not bounce, bills are not fakes, etc.

It also means having to deal with people who try to bargain down the price for various reasons or dedicated students who for are in financial trouble and are obligated to delay payment.

  • Rent: When the school is full and the cash is flowing, paying rent is no problem, but what happens when there are less students, either because it is summertime or simply because there are not enough students to cover the costs?

If the instructor wants to go on in hopes that things will pick up, he may have to dish out some of his own money to cover some of the rent.

  • Marketing: In the situation where there are not enough students to cover the rent, the teacher may want to do some marketing in hopes of attracting new students. He can do so by sending out flyers, doing demonstrations in front of a larger public, offer promotional price for new students etc. The instructor needs to do his marketing in a way that will excite without giving outrageously unrealistic expectations to prospective students.

  • Insurance: Sometimes required by the city in which the training hall is set up, insurance cover essentially two aspects: insurance of the equipment of the training hall (striking targets, armors, weapons, etc.) and insurance for the students.
  • The second type of insurance covers medical expenses for injuries occurring in the practice of the martial art. It may also cover the instructor in case of lawsuits. Even if they divert the insurance fees to the students, they still need to keep track of the coverage and collect the money on time.


10- May be harder than expected to make good money

Many instructors’ primary concern is the mercantile aspect of operating a school, hoping to make their martial arts operation their main source of income. There are some who enjoy success at it, but they are only a small minority.

The abundance of aspiring teachers in most major cities coupled with the contradicting virtues of martial arts versus the darkness of greed also makes it morally harder for upright teachers to resort to trickery to inflate their income.


11- Organizational Politics

Once an instructor gathers a sizeable amount of students, he will inevitably become the envy of other local schools who may be competing for the same students. This exposes the instructor to campaigns of defamation, back stabbing and other animosity.

Conflicts may also come from within, as some members of the organization the teacher is affiliated to may want to use him as a political weight.

If the school is not affiliated with any organization, the instructor may be courted into having his school join the organization.


Regardless of these annoyances, someone with high motivation and a minimal amount of organizational skills should be able to able to overcome these annoyances. Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions below.


Articles that may interest you:



Sources and references:

  • Unnamed World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF) technical director, 6th dan
  • Peter Choo-Foo, TyFung Kung Fu




  • Wikipedia Commons
















Last Updated on Saturday, 29 October 2011 10:36  

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