Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fighting when you're an instructor

Gary Moro at Yachigusa Ryu blog wrote a very insightful post about the challenges of being challenged when you're a martial arts instructor.

See, I’m in a situation where I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. As a martial arts instructor, if I resort to physical violence I can quickly be seen as the aggressor, the bad guy. If I win the fight and cause an injury I can look like a bully, and possibly be sued even though I was 100% in the right.

If I lose, well I lose, but that fact will get around like a wild fire burning out of control, and would just lead to a lot more physical challenges in the future. I certainly don’t need that.

In other words its basically a lose-lose situation for me.

Now I’m no stranger to being challenged to fight. As a police officer I got that a lot. I mean, how many people want to get arrested and go to jail. However those challenges weren’t personal. All these people only saw was the uniform, the badge.

In addition, as a police officer there was always back-up just a radio call away.

Now the situation in the garage is more like the ones I faced owning a "commercial" martial arts school. These challenges were one-on-one encounters with people who thought they had something to prove—people who wanted to kick my ass, just because I’m martial arts teacher.

Gary goes on to give two good examples of when this has happened.

As a former full-time school owner and instructor (I had three schools, around 20 employees, and around 800 students), I can tell you that these challenges happen, and with some regularity. Several times, when I was in the school alone, I'd have some young tough poke his head in and tell he he could kick my ass. I remember asking some of them to just sign on a dotted line and I'd be glad to accomodate them - they never did.

I did have one situation where someone did come in and we had a physical altercation. I think he was a little unstable mentally, but nothing serious happened.

What's the best way to handle these things? To paraphrase what Gary said, your standing and reputation in the community, good and bad, are riding on how you treat others. All it takes is one lawsuit, or the appearance of wrongdoing on your part to unravel years of hard work. Be careful. Read his whole post.

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