Info for Martial Arts School Owners and Instructors

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Leadership Team-Before Class


white belt child kicks with instructor watching

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MATA Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course

Module 21-The Proper Use of Student Instructors

by Scot Conway, Esquire

The $25,000 Volunteers

Excerpt from the Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course:

Using upper ranks to teach classes has been a long-standing martial arts tradition. But, is it legal?

A California instructor had his black belts teaching under-rank classes at his studio. In exchange, he no longer charged them tuition.

This continued until one fateful day when the owner and a black belt student had a disagreement.

The vindictive student contacted the California Labor Board and reported that his instructor had been employing assistants by requiring that they teach classes each week.

This can constitute an Employer – Worker relationship. The only thing missing was payment for the workers and the taxes the government would collect if they were being paid.

The State of California investigators concluded that the owner, over the years, had a total of 25 black belts teach classes.

They defined them as uncompensated employees, which is illegal under the laws of California, and fined the instructor $1,000 per incident.

The final bill: $25,000 for the volunteers.

Lesson: Know your state laws regarding utilizing assistant instructors.

Click to See All Leadership Team and Staff Articles and Files.

Five minutes before a kid’s class, you would like to be interacting with the students and getting a feel for their mental state. Are they excited or tired? This will tell you a lot about the warm up you will do.

Help the less excited by taking their mind off the day’s challenges. Maybe you could ask them if there is anything you could help them with before class. Another very good question is, “How do you feel about your next exam?” Or, “How did your test go?”

Not only does this show interest and caring but it gives you a great opportunity to follow up with some quality one-on-one by reviewing the techniques they may be concerned with or struggled with on the exam.

Two-minutes before class, you can start lining them up with the shorter students up front (have the kids sit down for the last minute or so to insure they stay in line). This time can also be spent collecting cards and talking to the students about their martial arts and previewing the exciting class they are about to have.

Caution, do not talk down to students regardless of age. With kids, you may watch your vocabulary level but have fun with them. They want to have fun with you, so it’s OK to joke a bit as long as you don’t allow things to get silly.

Class should be fun but not funny. A little fun works as comedy relief but should not be your theme nor should the laugh be at the expense of another person.

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