Ten rules for opening a martial arts school

A colleague on the Traditional Fighting Arts Forum recently asked us to list the 10 most important things to consider in opening a martial arts school. Here was my answer:

1. You should be passionate and committed to your martial art and your own progress within that art.

2. You should be qualified to teach at least up to an intermediate (what we call green belt) level. This means you should be thoroughly conversant with technical material to be taught for the first 3-4 years of your students' training. You can be qualified to teach even higher grades - the higher the better. But you have no business opening a dojo unless you have a deep knowledge of the material up to at least an intermediate level. It goes without saying that you should have attained a much higher level than that. But there is a difference in my view between passing a dan grade and being able to teach the material you've just passed. I am also assuming that you will progress further so that you always keep ahead of your students (see point 1)!

3. You should want (and love) to teach.

4. You should be confident but never arrogant.

5. You should preferably have one senior student/associate who is going to assist you.

6. You should find inexpensive premises to hire - premises that can be paid for through the fees of a handful of students.

7. You should conduct every class with the same gusto and energy - whether you have 2 students or 20. You should train by yourself even if no one else shows up.

8. You should keep yourself focused on your own tasks and goals, not what other schools/clubs are doing.

9. You should instil a level of formality in your class to offset its initial small size. The teacher/student relationship needs to be strictly observed during class (and usually outside it). This doesn't preclude you being friendly/friends with students, but it does pose some restrictions on your behaviour with them.

10. You should be honest.

Copyright © 2008 Dejan Djurdjevic