Six Signs Your Self-Defense Instructor Sucks

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

Your instructor could be a world champ, Navy SEAL or black-ops killing machine… but that doesn’t mean they can teach a good class or be a good coach. We’ve put together the TOP six signs you might not be getting what you bargained for in your training. Starting with…

1. No course curriculum

Not having a curriculum is like embarking on an around-the-world journey without a map and compass. It’s nearly impossible to teach and even more impossible to learn without a road map to tell you where you’re going. You should know exactly what is expected of you for each rank and certification.

A curriculum does two things:

First, it keeps the validity of your training intact. This ensures that you’re learning the correct skills and there’s continuity in the system. Without it, your style will fall victim to being modified by every instructor who teaches it. Like the child’s game of telephone, it will be changed by everyone who touches it.

Second, it holds your instructor accountable. Learning is a two-way street because you take the time and pay money for a product and you should receive that product.  As an instructor, I am always reviewing lesson plans because the majority of the time, I discover an important point I would have left out of the lesson.

2. No lesson plan

The worst thing an instructor or coach can do is “wing it.” Showing up to a class and not having a plan to take full advantage of the time is disrespectful to your students and your system. Every class should be well-thought-out with a progressive learning structure.

Your instructor should also have a monthly lesson plan so you know exactly what’s being covered in each class. This will help you work toward your rank faster because instead of showing up and hoping you’re going to learn what you need, you will be able to plan to attend those classes.

3. No out-of-class reinforcement

The University of South Florida Teaching College conducted a study and discovered that after a class or a seminar, without any outside reinforcement, students only retained 10% of what they learned. And after a few weeks, 90% of that was forgotten.

In a typical martial arts system, the only time you’re learning is IN CLASS. This means the only time you learn is in front of the instructor. Furthermore, beginners are discouraged to practice on their own for fear of doing it wrong.

This is true, however, if you are given access to self-defense videos, books and other multimedia; like in any other education program, you will be able to practice on your own. This will accelerate your learning exponentially. To be honest, in this day and age, not having tools like video to practice what you learned in class is unacceptable.

4. Excessive conditioning

A sign of a lazy instructor is excessive conditioning. Anyone can make you run wind sprints or do a bunch of calisthenics — it takes ZERO thought. A good instructor will provide the same type of conditioning training through drills based on developing your skill.

Burst drills in the system for example (30-second rounds of beating the crap out of your target as hard as you can) will give you the same cardio benefit as burpees but with the added benefit of developing real fighting skill.

At the end of the day, it’s not complicated. It just needs to be set up and administered.

5. Excessive sparring

This is similar to excessive conditioning. It doesn’t take any imagination or effort to have a class where everyone is rolling around and the instructor corrects random mistakes he happens to catch.

The problem with sparring too much is that people get lazy and form bad habits. Because there will come a point where both you and your partner will slack off. It’s only natural when you’re working with friends. Instead, controlled, short-term drills and frequent rotation of partners work A LOT BETTER.

In reality, your typical class session for a sport martial art should only be about 10–15% live sparring.

6. Low energy level and lack of engagement.

When you’re teaching, YOU NEVER HAVE A BAD DAY. It’s not about you, it’s about the people who are paying you to prepare them. It’s doesn’t matter what happened in your life for those few moments you’re on the floor teaching — you’d better be on your A-game. If not, pick another career.

Being an instructor doesn’t mean you’re the best fighter in the room or whatever BS you want to believe. If you’re an instructor, you’re an educator. You’re providing a service, and when it comes to the Self Defense Co., it’s a service that will save a life.

If you want to learn more about the Self Defense Co. instructor program, click here and fill out the online application for the latest information.

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