Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Book Review: The Martial Arts Instructor: A Practical Guide to a Noble Way

Jonathan Bluestein is a frequent contributor to Cook Ding's Kitchen. He recently published a new book entitled "The Martial Arts Instructor: A Practical Guide to a Noble Way."

I am no martial arts instructor and have to aspirations in that direction. However, if that was something that I was seriously thinking of doing, or if I already was an instructor and wanted to see someone else's point of view to see if there is something I might be overlooking or could do better, this would certainly be the book I would be looking at.

There are three themes running concurrently through this book: the nuts and bolts of running a successful martial arts school, building the school into a community and taking teaching as a sort of "higher" Way to study and practice.

The nuts and bolts of running a school. Recruiting students, scheduling classes, setting tuition policies, testing, ranks, teaching children, teaching people of the opposite sex, managing a class and  developing a curriculum. It's all in there. There's a ton of stuff to consider and Jonathon discusses all of it. A would be teacher, having read this book, would have a much better idea of the sorts of things; the breadth of things that he's going to be getting into.

One item that I wish that he would have discussed, and maybe in another edition are the pros and cons of being a part of a large organization.

For a school to be successful, which means that it continues to exist and torn out skillful students, it must become a community. If you leave it as a retail operation where a customer is merely exchanging money for a service, your school won't be around long.

On the contrary, a school that is successful can be marked by the number of senior students who are present. A successful school tends to become top heavy in black bels over time. The senior students tend to stick around.

There is a lot that goes into building a community where you are still clearly in charge, but the students all feel that they have a stake in the school as well. Some lines have to be drawn and it can be a tricky business. Jonathan helps make many of the issues less tricky.

Finally, there is teaching as a "higher" Way. What I mean by this is that the students are coming to see you. You have to be at your best and an example. You have to work harder and be a better you than any of your students.

There are no excuses. You can't have an off day. To take on teaching is to take on a challenge that when viewed rightly, will elevate your practice as a human being.

Even though I am not contemplating becoming a teacher, I have found this book to be most useful in my own practice; to help to open my mind.

I enjoyed it. I think that you would too.

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