Jonathan Bluestein has written a new book about being a martial arts teacher: The Martial Arts Teacher: A Practical Guide to a Noble Way.
I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of the book. It is a great addition to your martial arts library, just like his earlier masterpiece, Research of Martial Arts.
When I began studying martial arts in 1973, I had a dream of one day owning and teaching at my own school. I finally began teaching in 1997, in rented space, but in 2005, my wife and I bought our own building for our school.
It was very challenging for many reasons -- working full-time in addition to running a school; having to put up with students who weren't serious because I needed to pay the bills; dealing with students who did not practice or show respect to the teacher or to other students; playing psychologist, motivator, teacher, mentor, and friend.
For many reasons, running a martial arts school in 2017 is different than it was in 1973. At that time, the martial arts were mysterious and new. Bruce Lee was bringing a completely new way of fighting to our attention in the United States (and elsewhere). Suddenly, martial arts schools were popping up everywhere and they were filled to capacity with students eager to try this new, "deadly" way of self-defense.
Now, young people grow up in a different world. Martial arts are part of the wallpaper, taught in the local strip mall and at the YMCA. It is old news.
But for that reason, running a martial arts school is more challenging than it used to be, especially if you want to teach an authentic traditional art and not become a McDojo, where the owner is worried more about signing the next student to a contract than teaching a high-quality art.
Jonathan's book provides insights from his own teaching experience that can help you become the teacher your students need. He addresses a wide range of topics, from developing an atmosphere of equality to setting expectations of quality, how to handle new students, how to be a mentor and much more.
The book includes many outstanding pieces of advice that I never considered, including a tip to keep the written curriculum of the entire art on a wall inside the school. I mean, "Duh!" Why didn't I think of that? It provides every student with a constant road map, and will help with their own inner motivation.
The Martial Arts Teacher is a book that is instructional, informative, and even philosophical. One of my favorite quotes from the book is from Confucius: "True knowledge is knowing the extent of one's ignorance."
Being a good martial artist does not guarantee, in any way, that you will be a good teacher. All of us need ideas, input and guidance to help us develop and become the kind of teacher that our students will point to as someone who was an important part of their lives. Jonathan's book is one stepping stone on your own journey of personal development.