A bigger name in the industry of martial arts recently found himself in hot water and then chose to opt out of the consequences (if you watch Walking Dead then you know where that phrasing comes from and the specific episode). We could argue whether or not this was a coward’s way out or whatever. Whatever the case may be, this is a parent’s worst nightmare.
This gentleman was allegedly doing things to his male clientele that are embarrassing for him and his family (I truly do feel like his family is a victim in all of this). That is scary for any parent, because you have to trust the instructor when you leave them for class. As an instructor (or former in this case) that scared the heck out of me, and it should scare the heck out of you too. I have two kids and I want them to be as safe as possible all the time. Leaving them with strangers is scary to me and I bet it is to you as well.
This is one of the reasons I do not teach kids. Well, one of the reasons. The other reason is that I am not fond of teaching kids. I do not believe in that psychobabble about how martial arts teaches discipline. It is a great marketing line for school owners and they push this to the nth degree. However, it does not work in practice unless that person is already motivated or pre-disposed to being motivated via martial arts. A bad kid is a bad kid and training begins and ends at home. Sorry, that is just how I feel about it and I had a problem with taking in a kid and teaching him how to maim, kill, and destroy another human if he/she was going to misuse the information.
Truth is if I taught a kid, I had to be sure that they were a good person. (At least they had to be mostly a good person, everyone has a bit of weirdness somewhere right?) However, I still was never comfortable with… “Hey, I’m gonna leave my kid with you for a few hours and let you teach my kid.”
I did not like the legal liability of it or the thought process where I was supposed to provide direction for a kid when a parent could not do it.
However, I digress from that subject matter. In any case, I have seen too many cases of martial arts teachers doing bad things to kids they teach. It bothers me to no end. I think that John Graden in right in his post here http://martialartsteachers.com/steve-lavallee/. Most martial arts teachers (if not all) martial arts teachers get into martial arts because we are all broken in some way. In my case, I was a small kid that was picked on by everyone. I needed an outlet I could control. Martial arts were a good place to do that and learn how to defend myself if I needed to take one of those bullies down. However, I think he is also absolutely right that the martial arts are not enough to save many instructors. A lot of them self-destruct. It is like the super solider serum in Captain America. Success only amplifies what is already inside the heart of a person. It made Steve Rodgers Captain American and Red Skull… Well, Red Skull.
Maybe, we as instructors, should be more careful about who we train and why. I think a lot of us are too willing to take money because the person has money. I think a lot of people are so desperate for clients that they take everyone who walks in the door. A lot of martial arts instructors just smell money and go and get it regardless of the long-term consequences of that action.
However, I am not naïve enough to believe that a company can pick and choose who they work with and why. Martial arts are not a field of great wealth, as far as it relates to the teaching profession. There are only two ways to make money in the martial arts field without teaching. Either you punch people for a living or you pretend to punch people for a living. That is it. You do either one of those (neither of which is guaranteed money).
To make a long-winded post even longer, I will say a few things that I have always wanted to say about being a martial arts teacher. I have trained many people that I am proud to have trained, and I consider them friends. There are also people that I am not proud of training and most of my training went through their ears and out the other side anyway. Nearing the end of my last teaching career, I was much more careful about who and what I taught because there are a lot of people who should not be taught.
In closing, I am not interested in training the next “monster.” I am not delusional enough to believe that training with me will fix them. I do not think you should be either. If you do teach, then really meditate on whom you train and why you do. My goal is not to have to say that I trained the person that something wrong. Hopefully it is not yours either, no one should be proud of a person who took a life to prove his or her toughness. Ask yourself, “why do I do this?” After you answer that question (no matter what the answer is), then do not train the wrong people.