So You Want to Offer Karate
The key to a successful karate program lies in choosing theright Martial Art style for your clientele and the right instructor for the job.
By: Michelle Darbro
It is a common discussion among fitness center owners and managers, "Are Karate classes to risky to offer at my facility?" The answer is a loud and clear "NO"! The key to a successful karate program lies in choosing theright Martial Art style for your clientele and the right instructor for the job. An interview process will quickly weed out instructors that will be a liability or might hurt business. With a little planning your studio will have an edge in the quality of its Martial Arts program.
There are so many styles of Martial Arts today that an in depth view would require volumes. For purposes of convenience and to minimize confusion, I will categorize styles in a general nature and give you some questions to ask potential instructors.
There are Martial Arts from almost every country: Chung Nu from Viet Nam, Capoeira from Brazil, Krav Magra from Israel, and of course there are some great combative styles designed right here in the United States.
If that isn't confusing enough, the oldest traditional styles stem from both Japan and China. Japan is known as a home of Karate, while China is known for Kung Fu. Now that I've completely confused you, let me simplify: all karate styles kick and punch. That makes it very easy to identify. Everyone is starting at the same point. From there, many styles specialize, and here is where you can fit your clientele.
Interview Questions For Candidate Instructors:
I have composed a list of questions to ask your potential instructor. These questions are designed to help you hone in on what style and instructor would be successful in your area. After each question ask yourself if that is what your clients would want:
Does your style have person to person contact or is it strictly a class of movement?
"Kickboxing" classes, which many of you probably already offer, are class activities that
don't usually include one-on-one contact. Conversely, Karate styles differ in contact from simple sparring to one on one grappling (a type of wrestling).
Does your teaching include grappling? (a type of wrestling)
Does your style include weaponry?
As with contact, the weapons training offered varies from defending against weapons (such as knives), to defending with weapons (such as swords).
Do you encourage competition?
Do you offer instruction to all ages, just children, or just adults?
The box on your left is a table of general characteristics of some common styles. But remember, many styles today are mixes of more than one older style, so ask questions to get the style most suited to your clientele.
After determining which style will best suit your clientele, the interview process will bring the right instructor to your facility. Another important aspect of running a successful program is the demeanor of the instructor. Martial Arts instruction, like every other type of discipline, varies from teacher to teacher. To organize the best program for your facility ask yourself, and the instructor a few questions:
Do you teach all ages?
Does your style have rank?
A belt system is created to allow students to progress. Most styles use such a system.
What would you consider your teaching style?
Killer physical workout?
Killer mental workout?
Heavy contact, one on one?
Usable by a large population?
What is the youngest age you would recommend starting your class?
What is the oldest age?
Do you carry liability insurance? ?
The answers to these questions will best align the instructor with your clientele.
Here are some examples:
Your facility is mid-city and targets members from 18 - 55 (working) with an hour to get their workout in. They are always wanting something different, and the more physical the better.
You need an instructor that focuses on adults, uses a very physical, less technical approach, with emphasis on sweat. A "kendo" class would work great. You might also try "judo" or a "karate" style that emphasizes one-on-one grappling.
The fitness center works mostly with members over the age of 60. The majority are interested in challenge, but not competition.
"Tai Chi" might work well here. The instructor should be able to work with the clients physically and mentally. I would also recommend someone who will be touching on self-defense.
Suburban, your facility runs the gamut from moms with children to teens with competitive desires.
A traditional Karate or Kung fu instructor that has the capability to teach all ages, offers competition, and has a teaching style that is as inviting to a parent as it is to the teen.
In all the examples you can see the importance of the two step process. First, assess the needs of your facility and clientele, then interview potential instructors to find the candidate most conducive to the success of your program. Using this process, your facility will be running a successful, popular program without any inconvenience.
About the Author
Michelle Darbro has been training in Martial Arts since 1979. She currently holds a 6th degree Black Belt in the Goju style of Karate. Ms. Darbro also holds credentials in weapons training and teaching women's self defense. She currently trains under Master Joe Kelljchian in Florida.
She has won numerous awards for her skill as a Martial Artist including being rated the best state competitor in kata in 1983 (FBBA), and number two in sparring the same year. She has worked as a fight choreographer in theater, but admits that she finds teaching the most rewarding. Ms. Darbro has been teaching Karate and Dance full time since 1988. She holds a BS in Physical Education and Wellness, and is a certified instructor through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Ms. Darbro teaches Karate full time and has authored the book, Kicks With Kids , on teaching very young children. The book is available through DSWFitness.com or www.wildcatdojo.com.
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