I’ve seen some of the looks in people’s faces when I tell them I teach close combat for a living.
There are different types of looks; some of these looks lean towards the positive and others toward the negative. One of them I frequently get is this litle frown coupled with a tad of confusion, as if to ask why would anyone do that for a living? Why would you teach people to hurt or kill other human beings? Why would you break your body week after week and year after year for what is usually not that big of an income? Why would you do this knowing that your retirement prospects probably don’t look that good? Why would you spend most of your life purposely focused on negative things like violence, aggression, crime, injury and death?
This question of why is important. Why do we do what we do?
What Happens When We Forget?
The question is important because if we don’t answer it clearly we run into problems:
The first things to go are usually our peace and our joy. We tend to become frustrated human beings. We mostly try to hide this frustration but it always seeps through – classes are a bit tougher, patience is a bit thinner, how we interact with our students and our clients go slightly off. This is not good. And this is the reason that I’m writing this specific article for CRGI. I have found too many instructors with unresolved inner conflict. Instructors that are not at peace with themselves and that have subsequently lost their own personal joy. It is difficult to teach others how to resolve conflict if you are constantly struggling with your own. And many times, for me at least, my inner conflict stemmed from the fact that I lost touch with why I’m doing what I’m doing. Purpose brings peace.
Other times we lose focus on what we should be trying to achieve. Instead of delivering the best training that we humanly can we start to focus on things like income and money. Our focus gradually shifts and the acquisition of students slowly starts to dominate our thoughts. Without realizing it we commercialize and turn into marketing gurus and salesmen. Not a problem when in balance with the rest of your business priorities – big problem when it becomes our main priority. I doubt any of us started our careers as martial arts instructors because we wanted to get rich quick. And yes, I understand the need for income is real, and yes, I understand the pressure of when the books don’t balance at the end of the month.
Some of us pull through these seasons of frustration and financial struggle. Others lose their passion completely and throw in the towel. Job satisfaction comes from three things: Knowing what you should be doing, knowing why you’re doing it, and knowing how to do it well. Let’s have a look at that all important question: Why are we doing what we’re doing?
Five Factors that Motivate Martial Arts Teachers
Some of us are in it because we simply progressed through our systems. This is an interesting point because you could have progressed through your system, become an instructor, but not really be a teacher in terms of your calling and or gifting. I have so much respect for any person that has mastered their art – but are you a teacher in your heart? Any person can learn to teach; skills can be acquired by anyone. But not all people should teach. If teaching drains you instead of energizing you then maybe it’s not for you. Not a criticism – just a fact of life.
Some of us are in it because our personalities do well with being in the limelight. I personally don’t like the limelight but I have friends who literally thrive in it. They’re not immature about it. It’s just that they’ve been hardwired to get energy from being there. So they actively seek opportunities where they can be in the limelight. What about you? Is this the only reason that you’re an instructor? Have you made the effort to mature and acquire the skills required to back up your personality?
Some of us are in it because of the opportunity to master our art. Certain individuals are strongly driven to master the activities that they are involved in. I know everyone wants to be good at what they do. But certain people can’t settle for good – they want to master. Teaching and instructing becomes a new method for your own personal growth. It forces you to engage with the art from a completely new perspective – one of creatively and effectively helping others to grow. The big caveat with this form of motivation is that many times it’s individuals with a type A or strongly task orientated temperament that displays this drive to perfection. Individuals that can easily become a dick when things aren’t going their way. So mastering is great – but you need to be a nice guy and a good teacher as well.
Some of us are in it because of the violence hovering under the surface. This can be a great motivator. The discipline and physicality of the fighting arts becomes our path to self control and expending the aggresion that some of us so frequently struggle with. It’s a forgotten fact that males primarily unload aggressive emotions through gross motor movement. The dark side of this motivator is that we sometimes unload these emotions onto other human beings. We use our martial art as a way of hurting because we ourselves are still hurt. This is especially destructive in instructors as they can easily start to damage students through verbal, emotional and physical abuse.
Some of us are in it because we have been called to protect. I firmly believe this to be first a human calling, then a male calling and lastly a very personal individual calling. Somewhere alongside the development of the human rights movement we have forgotten the very human idea of responsiblity to protect. Many, especially in the Western world, seem to think it’s solely the police and the military’s job to protect us. That’s great, I’m thankful for a standing force of brave men and women that have got our backs, but where have we forgotten that for millenia past it was our own individual responsibility to protect ourselves, our famlies and our micro and macro communities? There are some of us who deeply feel this responsibility and have been called to nuture this passion in others as well.
What Motivates You?
Maybe you should put some thought into why you are doing what you’re doing. Why did you start on this journey? What significant indicators were there during your life that can remind you why you should still be on this path?
For me personally – it’s about protection. I hate fear. I hate the crippling effect it has on people. It steals from them. Once a person starts to struggle with fear it’s like it grows tentacles. It’s crippling effects slowly start to take hold of every area of their lives. They lose their boldness and their authenticity. Honesty, business, risk, relationships, love – everything starts to suffer due to fear. And so I also hate violent crime – as it deals in fear. It buys with fear and it pays with fear. This is why I do what I do. I have the ability and opportunity to help others push back against violent crime in my country; I can help them deal with the fear associated with and left behind by violent crime. And in doing so I have the opportunity to free them up to live full lives. Lives filled with joy, peace and success.
Oh yes, and I really really like fighting as well.
What about you? What motivates you? My wish is that you may you rediscover your motivation and that that rediscovery will help you to be a more peaceful, joyous and above all – focused – instructor.