Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Red Flag warnings to look out for when joining a club or instructor.

Staying with the theme of knowing you are in the correct martial art for your self and acknowledging all of the difficulties of what to look out for in order to make the martial arts training a long term positive aspect of ones life.

There are some red flags to look out for after witnessing some negative aspects through my years involved in the scene.

Poaching of students


For any looking for a martial art or for some within a club who get approached by others, some red flags should be looked out for: One of the largest red flags is a clubs members being contacted (poached) either by a similar or same style club “instructor or owner” (often less authentic organisations).  Or another fighting style, often being one such as explained in my earlier article as only focusing on the fighting aspects. Lately some clubs are being started by non martial artists, but "business" men.

Though “poaching” might happen in the business world perhaps. It is definately a red flag for True Martial artists. There is an unsaid code! I have never approached anyone from another club to poach them (even when in the early days our club and organisation had large attempts to stop us) . Firstly I am not that desperate to lower my standards and secondly I consider myself a martial artist, following the moral code of especially integrity (also mentioned in the earlier article). Having said that, I have been around a long time and my compatriots from most other organisations  respect that I would not do that to them and in turn wouldn’t do it to me or even in times have stopped any rogue rookie newcomers in their tracks.

Generally many promises get made by these fly by nights , normally unrealistic to maintain a long standing club in the long run. Very, very few new martial arts clubs go the distance. Again I emphasise, a martial arts instructor, like it or not will have a big influence over a practitioners life and even more so on your children. Is a person who is willing to go so low as to break a warrior code, and possibly having practiced less than savoury practices on other occasions, be the person you would want to train under or have your kids train under?


Even though rare in happening to my clubs, I take it as a positive. It allows me an insight into peoples loyalty, integrity and actual goals for themselves or children.

I also never say blind loyalty, if there are very good reasons to leave a club or instructor such as the instructors moral compass going in the wrong direction, if after following the correct avenues in the the club and organisation don't work out. I also know that not all puzzles pieces fit and one of the reasons we have become successful time tested clubs is that we have parted ways with some in order to keep our clubs main goals central.

Winning at all costs

Of the many red flags to look out for, many show up in the sporting aspect. Remembering that our training must be balanced and primarily build characteristics through the training that are positive which influence our everyday lives.

Sadly there are many instructors/coaches out there who's focus on winning in competition can cloud moral judgement and therefor damage what martial arts is supposed to instill. I could write a book on the many different ways I have seen to cheat, go into very grey areas or influence a persons aggression in an unhealthy way.

Without going into too much detail, some that upset me is when illegal techniques are done by "accident" and taking into account sacrificing a warning etc. This would normally be done to try break the opponents spirit etc and hence give an advantage. Also annoying is when one pretends to have a glove etc come loose or fall or the worst of all run out of the ring near the end if ahead (Not even talking about skillful dodging, but turning and running) in order to avoid having a point scored. If an instructor encourages favour for club members in competition judging or umpiring even by shunning a person for not voting in the way of a fellow member, this is a huge lack if integrity.

Gladly these are rare but can happen. If instructors are encouraging less than clean ways to win a match, this can clearly lead to people taking that sort of behavior into the real world which could be a gateway to leading to more serious crimes etc.

We do teach the nastiest techniques in our Hosin Sul and self defence oriented part of the training, but within competition the rules must be obeyed to the letter.

I often say. Even if you become a world champion. You could still have lost. As is it worth "winning" if not done with integrity or if one becomes arrogant thereafter?

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