How to Become a Martial Arts Instructor

Have you ever thought about being an instructor? Do you often ask, “How do I become a Kempo instructor?” My answer is quite simple. First become a member of the GOLD Leadership Team, which teaches you leadership skills, teaching skills and coaching or interpersonal skills. You need some experience and training in the martial arts. Knowing Kempo is different from teaching Kempo. Teaching others how to do a technique or move is quite a bit different from knowing it yourself.

Black Belt in meditation

Black Belt in meditation

Being an instructor takes leadership qualities to inspire others to continue training when they become frustrated. It takes patience as you explain moves in detail. It also takes knowledge on how different people learn. No two people are the same but they can be lumped into general learning-style groups such as visual learner, auditory learner or tactile learner.

These skills and plenty of practice with real people are what programs like GOLD Team provide. Many schools have some sort of leadership team often using the name SWAT or STORM. They all let you practice your mentoring and teaching style with fellow students under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor–who will help you improve by providing pointers and feedback.

Ask your instructor how to get ready. They will surely provide good advice and training tips to you. You can eventually teach full or part time if the school is hiring or expanding. Once you complete the GOLD Team program, you will be able to join the staff as a part time or full time instructor — if the school is hiring or expanding.

Maybe you have what it takes to be a sifu, sensei or instructor? Ask your instructor how he or she can help you on that path.

GOLD Team Program: Leadership Training

GOLD stands for Guidance on Leadership Development.  This program includes comprehensive training on leadership skills that build personal character and life skills.  The GOLD Team Program creates a solid, high-quality leadership team, which serve as exemplars to the student body.  Benefits of the program include:

  • Personal development through character enrichment
  • Effective communication to individuals and groups
  • Leadership skills essential for getting groups to work together
  • Motivation skills and how to maintain it in a group setting
  • How to teach our curriculum effectively
  • Mentoring other students to help them stay focused on their goals

The GOLD TEAM is (usually) made up of Advanced Training Club or Black Belt Club members who show excellent interpersonal skills and a super-winning attitude. Having Olympic-level technique is not required. Acceptance onto the GOLD team is based mainly upon great attitude, world-class effort, and consistent attendance.Correcting a child's body position

This program allows a student interested in taking a leadership role to be mentored under a Certified Master Instructor. GOLD Team members are eligible for jobs as Junior Assistant Instructor (at lower rank classes) and attend staff workouts and meetings.

GOLD Team is the first step in the journey to becoming a Kempo or Martial Arts Instructor. A candidate student must show a passion for the art of Kempo and excel at displaying all the moral tenets Karazenpo go Shinjutsu / Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo. The candidate should also demonstrate a desire to share his or her knowledge with others and maintain a goal of Black Belt Excellence.

For our younger members (Keiki Kempo), we require a report card that reflects good behavior and good grades along with permission from their parents. To be considered for GOLD, a student would inform the Senior Instructor of their interest.

GOLD team members are considered leaders of our school and are trained to assist in classes along with our professional instructors. It makes a great place to get your start if you are interested in eventually teaching martial arts as a job or career.

Membership Rules

  • You must be at least 5 minutes early for the class or classes you are mentoring.
  • If you are unable to make class, you must call the school and call someone on the list to fill in for you.
  • Always be in a good mood, don’t come in if you are less than 100% (positive attitude, good health, fully rested).  Anything less and you are a distraction to the students and parents.
  • Someone always needs help. Seek them out and offer your assistance.
  • You must wear a clean school shirt underneath your clean kempo uniform.
  • If you miss 3 times without calling the school or calling someone to fill in for you –you are off the team.

“Golden Leopard Kempo’s Instructors share a common goal. It is having the passion, enthusiasm, and pride to be able to teach and help others become successful. Having the ability to motivate and encourage students to challenge themselves mentally, spiritually, and physically, to set goals and to achieve them.” — Master Bagnas

All of Golden Leopard Kempo’s Instructors and GOLD Leadership Team are personally taught and mentored by Master Bagnas in GLKO’s extensive GOLD Instructor Training Program (Guidance on Leadership Development).

Regular attendance at weekly and monthly Instructor Training Sessions with Master Bagnas is mandatory. Golden Leopard Kempo expects and seeks the high standards from its students. GLKO’s GOLD Team is expected to attend professional development courses, workshops and seminars throughout the year. Finally, First Aid, CPR, and/or baby-sitting certifications are a mandatory requirement each year to ensure student and community safety. Remember that we are warriors in and outside the Dojo.

10 Laws of Kempo

In an ongoing effort to provide I don’t know everything, let me highlight the excellent albeit short descriptions (posts) of the Ten Laws of Kempo. Mark (the author) has done a great job making these fundamental principles into concise list. Here they are:

  • Law of the Circle and the Line – This idea is also found in the art of Hsing Yi (linear) and Bagua (circular). Focus on attacking the opponent’s weakness, not their strength.
  • Law of the First Strike – No sense in wasting time if you “won initiative”, take the opportunity to end the fight before it gets going.
  • Law of Multiple Strikes – As I say in class, keep hitting until the fight is obviously over.
  • Law of Targets – The strike should match the vulnerability of the target.
  • Law of Kicking – Grandmaster Gascon has told me this several times, kick below the belt line and punch above it.
  • Law of No Block – Another gem, the best block is not being where the attack lands.

The last four are found on his general information Kempo FAQ site.

  • Law of Yielding & Redirecting – This idea is found in Tai Chi and Jujutsu.
  • Law of Mobility (the heading is missing in this article but the content is there.) – Be a moving target and keep your target moving so he will be off balance.
  • Law of Flexibility – This is not being as supple as a gymnast but rather being flexible in your thinking and defense.
  • Law of The Warrior Spirit – If you don’t think you will win and have the will to do what you must, no sense in fighting because you’ve already lost.

Mark has a few other good posts. Be sure to check this site occasionally. Have you found another great Internet source for American or Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo? Let me know. If it’s really good, I’ll put it in the blog-roll.

BTW, his Kempo FAQ page was the first site to link to my Golden Leopard Kempo Online site back in the 90s. He also started the very comprehensive Kempo/Kenpo family tree.

What If Question Again

As usual, the “What if the bad guy did this?” and “What if he did that?” question arose again. It’s natural to think of these options while practicing. Just remember two things. First, practice your material over and over again with a partner to get the feel of actually doing it. Second, know that you’ll have to adjust and keep flowing with the move.

Nothing we practice will happen “just that way” as done in class. They are tools that you apply to the situation. Trust in the training and train hard.

How to Develop Blind Fighting

What do you do when it’s dark? How do you defend yourself when you can’t see? This condition can be caused either by an injury or by a hostile opponent who blindfolded you. There are ways to train and enhance your ability to fight under such circumstances. The natural evolution of the Sticky Hands Drill Set is blind fighting. There are three stages to developing this combative skill.

Step 1: Low Light
Practice light sparring in a dark room with low ambient light. This sparring session should be slow and deliberate. Gauging in low light makes judging distances difficult. Take your time and don’t try to “win” rather invest in conditioning yourself to the environmental constraints. This step reduces the visual input so you can get use to using other senses for targeting.

Step 2: Blindfolded
In a dark room with blindfolds on, perform pushing hands, sticky hands or rolling hands. If the partners disengage, they must reset themselves without help. This step has no visual input, but you maintain contact to sense your opponent’s balance and momentum. It develops sensitivity further.

Step 3: Blackout
In a dark room with blindfolds, start at opposite sides of the mat. Slowly engage in very light sparring with an emphasis on take down moves and grappling holds. In short, the partners are groping in the dark until they can snatch something, then it’s a race to a takedown. This step has no visual input and it develops blind engagement. It heightens the use of other senses to target.

I doubt you’ll be as good at fighting in the dark as Gung Fu masters or Ninjas as depicted in the movies. The realistic goal of this training is acclimatize you to the environment. Stressful conditions get adrenaline running, which can cause you to stall. Familiarity reduces stress and hopefully allows you to defend yourself adequately.

That’s all I have for now. Whether you practice American or Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo or Karazenpo go Shinjutsu, these drills will make you a better fighter. Take time to digest and embrace the skills you have. Make them adaptable to various situations, not just a “single arm punch in.”

Have questions or suggestions? Let me know in the comment section.

Sensei Update

Just wanted to apologize for not getting any articles up in February. It was like a freakishly dry desert here last month. I was using the Mañana Method of article writing. Things have been busy around the work place, dojo and home. There are a few good articles in the funnel that should make March a better month for articles. While I’m working on new projects, now it a great time to suggest article topics you’d like to see covered. Or you can suggest other blogs and websites that are interesting.

Old Style Kata

Doing kata in the traditional manner requires a calm mind and steady stance. There is a difference between the glitzy, acrobatic extreme kata and the older more sedate kata of old. The older kata do not require Olympic level flexibility and gymnastic ability. Rather, they require the elements that make an artist a warrior. Here are some tips to keep your kata looking more traditional.

  • Stay relaxed in the motions and movements.
  • Look before you move into the next step.
  • Keep your movements crisp and sharp.
  • Maintain great stances according to the kata’s requirements. Usually these are low and stable.
  • Breathing should be smooth and even.
  • Show power and fluid grace but do not strike too hard or else you’ll loose the essential flow
  • Be balanced through your stance transitions
  • Kiai at the right time with intensity
  • Single leg stances should be held slightly longer than two-legged stances to demonstrate control

Two other elements for tournament competitors:

  • Begin the kata before you step into the ring
  • The kata doesn’t end until you’re dismissed

Do you have other tips for performing a traditional kata? Add them to the comments.