Info for Martial Arts School Owners and Instructors

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Speaking to the Camera


white belt child kicks with instructor watching

Get Certified as a Martial Arts Instructor Online

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.

This is a Good Speaking Example to Study

One area that I am hyper-vigilant on is speaking and teaching skills. The fastest way to improve the quality of your classes is by becoming a more effective speaker.

In this video, Victoria Payne from Smithville, MS tells the story of how she was teaching self-defense without a facility or any guidelines and how that all changed with COBRA.

What you will see is:

  1. She never breaks eye contact with the camera.
  2. She leans into the camera. (Your back should never touch your chair when speaking to the camera)
  3. She never refers to notes (though sometimes that’s okay)
  4. She never says “um” or “and um.”
  5. She doesn’t weaken her influence with useless words such as “like” or “ok.”
  6. She has strong openings to her paragraphs. “We’re not martial artists. We’re not…”

My only suggestion would be to learn to have a little smile throughout the presentation. The camera strips life out it’s subjects. That’s why a little smile can brighten up your face, even if you’re talking about a serious subject. Victoria is as pretty as a newscaster, and if you watch newscasters, they keep a slight smile even during serious reports.

I am currently writing a book and course on speaking skills for martial arts instructors.This is one of the rare instances that I see an instructor nail it.

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