Are you teaching what THEY want?

6 May

Instructors, are you teaching what THEY want? The “they” isn’t just your students, but the general public. Or, are you teaching what YOU want to teach?

I really believe in furthering my martial arts eduction and attend a lot of seminars. Frequently, that puts me in other instructors’ schools. I distinctly remember a few years ago attending a seminar and being in the changing rooms after one of the sessions. There was a class schedule on the wall and one of the seminar participants who wasn’t from the school asked one of the students what the classes were like.

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The school offered a lot of different kinds of classes, including both traditional martial arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Muay Thai. The traditional format classes were obviously the instructor’s background and something he was really devoted to, they took up about half of the schedule.

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However, the students admitted that those classes were poorly attended. MOST of the students did the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai classes. From the students’ description, 80% of the school was interested in and attending only 50% of the schedule.

It doesn’t take a mathematics whiz to figure out something is wrong with numbers like that. Someone with some industry experience (that would be me) would have also noticed that the traditional martial arts classes (which were poorly attended) were taking up PRIME time slots.

What did that tell me? It told me that people were going out of their way (i.e. attending less than ideal time slots) to attend the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai classes. It told me that despite being in prime time slots, people simply did NOT want to take the traditional martial arts format classes. These things considered, the fact the school had a decent student population was pretty impressive.

But imagine if the popular classes were being held at the prime time slots? Or imagine if the school only focused on the classes people wanted to do? Situations like this are one of the major reasons that some schools never grow and reach their potential.

The instructor is teaching what THEY want to teach, not what the public really wants. Worse yet, the instructor isn’t AWARE that this is what is happening. They never figure out why they can’t grow their school to 300 or 400 or 500 members. Or, they wrap themselves in the flag of “noble ideals”, declare they’d rather be “true to their art” and say they don’t care how much money the school makes.

Really? Maybe it’s just me, but I NEVER believe people when they say things like that. Who doesn’t want to have a pile of students who love their school and their instructor? Who doesn’t want to have a successful school and be making a nice living doing what they love? No, I NEVER believe it.

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