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I get asked the question about becoming a certified instructor and opening a dojo through Complete Shotokan Karate all the time. The very short answer is Yes, you can. Now I want you to know what it is needed and what it is like to be a Sensei and own your own school. First let me go back to my beginnings and relate my experiences in this process. Hopefully this will give you some insight into the process.
When I first started I didn’t have a clue that I would become an instructor and own several schools. At the time I was working in a very high stress job and drinking too much and making very poor decisions in my life. I almost lost my family and all I had due to the delusions and depression of my life not being worth living. I hit rock bottom and knew I had to have a change in my life or I was just not going to make it. This my friends, is called the dark night and the beginning of my recovery into improving myself mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally.
As a child I had always had a great interest in martial arts. I dreamed of learning martial arts and becoming a black belt. There was not a dojo in my home town so movies and dreaming had to do. As I went to high school and college any dream of becoming a martial artist was lost in my career choice. I won’t go into all my home life situation and the darkness that was in it. Let’s just say that along the way I made some bad choices that lead me to my dark night that I conjured up. Most fortunately, I received a position with a company in a town that would change my future and launch my martial arts career. During my darkest time I must of had an angel on my shoulder yelling in my ear. I made the choice to drop all my bad habits that were ruining my life and walk into the local dojo I saw on the way to work every day. Walking in that dojo changed my life and in time changed my career and life mission.
Looking back at my martial arts life the first year was the hardest. Of course I was in horrible condition, completely out of balance. As a white belt I was very confused by the Kata and Ipon Kumite. The sparring and fighting was frightening to me in the beginning.Things didn’t make a whole lot of sense and my workout buddy, who is just like a brother to me now, had to draw the steps on a piece of paper before I could get it down. A successful student has to stay focused, be dedicated and never give up, no matter what. As a white belt I had fear and confusion however, my instructors were positive and supportive and I never gave up no matter what. So the first belt test that I had was really scary to me because it was something completely new. Looking back now I feel my white to yellow belt test was one of my hardest test.
Over the first year of training up to blue belt I began to understand how the kata and techniques really worked and began to use them properly. During the second year of training my Sensei had me and other blue belts working with individuals demonstrating techniques and leading small parts of classes. I found these small bits of helping others really help me to gain a deeper understanding of how things worked and how people learn through teaching as well as helping others. A successful student learns, demonstrates and teaches others what they know.
Over the first two years of training I really focused on my physical and mental states. Through hard work I became very fit losing 60 lbs and had become mentally tougher through the fighting and kata work. My first advanced test starting my third year of training was my first brown belt test. Preparing for the any level belt test was physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally demanding. In fact each test in our dojo became more demanding and the first brown belt test was the toughest test I have ever taken. I knew it was going to be tough so I trained very hard for the test. A successful student ask questions, prepares thoroughly and moves beyond expectations within his limits.
After I ranked as brown belt I was then expected to be an assistant instructor in our school. Over the next two years and subsequent tests into 1st dan black belt I assisted and taught classes as needed. As I and my associates at my level moved forward our role in the dojo as teachers increased. When I ranked in as 1st Dan I was given several classes to teach on my own. For the next two years as a 1st dan I taught several classes a week. I then tested for my 2nd Dan and opened my first school in a neighboring town from my instructor’s dojo.
So I worked a full time job and trained and taught martial arts most nights. When I opened my first school I quit my day job and made a living through our new family dojo. To have a successful school it takes dedication to your students, a lot of people skills, and common sense. To own your own business, and yes a martial arts school can be a good business, you have to be a self starter and highly motivated toward a quality experience for you students. To be innovative and create new opportunities for yourself and others in martial arts you need to continue your martial arts education as a instructor and business owner.
So the reason I became an instructor and school owner is that martial arts helped me to change my life in such a profound way. Through my school I found the joy of serving others with my knowledge. What I found changed my life and my family in so many positive ways that I was motivated to give this joy and peace to everyone that I can. My journey was very spiritual and eye opening for me. Through the many classes and tests I really got a good look at myself and found what I did and did not like about myself. I learned that change can and will be good when you follow your heart and serve others.
Anyone who wants to become an instructor must be a self starter, dedicated with focus and intent. You must never give up and stay the course and be an honorable example to others all the time. An instructor learns to listen, see and act through the heart. You must be able to learn demonstrate and teach effectively with good people skills. Learn to look at yourself, change and create a better you when you don’t like what you see. A school owner has to be a dynamic and powerful force of honesty, integrity and love for others. You will have to be dedicated to your students and use a lot of common sense in your business approach. As an instructor and school owner you will need to be innovative and creative by continuing to educate yourself and change as needed.
So yes, you can become a certified instructor and open a dojo. Complete Shotokan Karate distance training and your Sensei’s support provides a path for this to happen. Through dedication and never giving up you can earn recognized rank and advance through our system. Once you receive your 1st dan in our system we will be offering an instructor certification course which will cover proven methods of how to teach and run classes. The course will also offer areas of study in how to develop class curriculum for belt level instruction and create a system for training students in our style. A master’s course will also be offered for advancement beyond 1st dan up to 3rd dan and beyond. All of these courses are recognized certifications through the AMAWW and the Ultimate Training Martial Arts Association and various local federations our system is involved with. So we are here waiting to support you in becoming an instructor and school owner if that is your dream.