A Parent's Guide to the Martial Arts  p. 7  

Moreover, as far as rank and credentials are concerned, do some research.  You should verify all claims of rank, training and teaching time as there is a current trend to inflate one's rank and credentials, as well as outright fabrication.  Also, even though the instructor or school may belong to a professional sounding organization, this doesn't mean very much.  Most of these organizations simply require a monthly fee to be a member and never check the legitimacy of their members.  Keep in mind, there is plenty of fraudulent activity going on in the martial arts world and no one is being held accountable for it, so if you donít do the research, you could be scammed fairly easily. 

If your potential school's instructor meets the time, rank, and experience requirements then you need to look at a few other things.  First, how old is he?  You may say that's unimportant, however, the age of the instructor makes a difference in the quality of instruction and, maturity only comes with age if it comes at all.  An instructor needs to be mature in mind and body before teaching and with maturity comes dignity.  ďAnd dignity is something you need a lot of if you want to be a sensei (teacher)." (Lovret, 3, 5) 

Moreover, since it will take about 12 to 15 years to legitimately earn a yondan, the instructor should be around thirty years of age before attempting to teach.  However, some people mistakenly believe just because they have been training since they could walk, that all the years of training from age 4 to 14 or so, really count.  What these people fail to realize is that maturity of mind and body takes experience and time.  "Sorry there are no teenaged grandmasters, just as there are no dignified teenagers." (Lovret, 3, 6)  For example, if a person has graduated high school with 12 years of education and they wished to become a teacher, they still would not be qualified to teach.  They would be required to take additional courses and they would have to earn a minimum of a bachelorís degree, but more likely they would need a masterís degree.  This means another 4 to 6 years of education on top of the previous 12. 

To summarize, here is what Michael DePasquale Sr., a high-ranking instructor of the martial arts has to say, "I personally believe that an instructor should be of at least yondan rank (4th degree black belt).  His age should be a minimum of 32 years.  He should have at least 5 years of experience teaching classes in a dōjō under the tutelage of a ranking master instructor." (DePasquale, 54)

Does this sound like your potential teacher?  Before you make your decision, however, here are some other questions that you will want to answer as well:  How does the instructor handle the class?  Is he in control?  Do the students listen and appear respectful?  Can you talk to current students or parents of students and get references from them?  Has the instructor taught at other facilities and can you get references from those facilities?  Who is the instructor's teacher and what are his or her qualifications?  How long has the instructor's teacher been training and how long has he or she been teaching?  Are his or her credentials legitimate?  Can you get a positive reference from the instructor's teacher? 

In addition to the aforementioned items, here are some other things to consider.  Are all instructors certified in CPR, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and basic first aid?  Do the instructors have a basic knowledge of how to treat sports-related injuries?  Although injuries in a good dōjō are rare, they can occur and if not treated properly can be made worse in some cases.  In addition, if a school is teaching kids, then the instructors should have some knowledge of child physiology and know what exercises are appropriate for children and what exercises to avoid.  Moreover, many schools today emphasize fitness and state that they will help you improve your fitness level.  The martial arts is definitely a physical endeavor but if a school emphasizes fitness, you should ask what qualifies them in the fitness field.  Training in the martial arts doesn't count.  If they are emphasizing fitness then the instructor should have some physical fitness qualifications, either a degree in the physical fitness field or be certified in the fitness industry from a respected organization. 

Also, some schools offer a form of cardio kickboxing, or some other like term.  Does the instructor of this class hold qualifications in not only the martial arts field but also in the cardio/aerobic field as well?  There are many things that a person who runs a cardio type class needs to know, not only so the participants gain a benefit but for their safety as well.  The same holds true for the modern martial sports trend emphasizing gymnastic skills.  If this is the type of school you're interested in then you should ask what are the instructor's qualifications to teach such skills.  Remember, just because someone can perform a skill themselves doesn't automatically qualify them to teach that skill.




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