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"Why Did You Start Teaching?"

This is probably the second most asked question that I get when people find out I own a dojo. The most popular would be "do you have a black belt?!" to which the answer is obviously yes.

I guess the answer I typically give is always a short one because there is little time to really get into it so I always end up saying something like "I just love working with kids", but I don't only teach kids and that is only a small piece of why I started teaching so lets get into the full story...

I guess it started when I was probably about...12? I have always looked up to one specific Sensei. He has been part of my karate journey from the start and it was very early on that I decided that I wanted to be just like him. I was eligible to join my dojo's leadership team before my black belt but with that year also being the year I was prepping for my black belt test, there was just too much on my plate to add teaching. It wasn't until after I achieved my black belt that I jumped on the leadership team. Of course, being new to teaching I was just a helper but I LOVED every second of it After a brief break from karate during high school, I started at another dojo where I immediately joined their leadership team. I was on leadership right up until the age of 8 when my Sensei asked me to be a head instructor (which basically just means I get to run my own classes now).

Ever since then, I have been enjoying everything that is teaching. The smiles on their faces, the look of joy when they get the hang of something, the focus when they are trying to understand. Believe it or not, and this is gonna sound a little dark but hear me out, I even enjoy the tears and struggle. Why? Because those just mean that they are learning and they are pushing through the hard things to get better at what they want/need to know.

So we've established that I enjoy working with kids and all the reasons for that but what else is there? Well, there is also the roll model aspect. My students see me at least weekly, if not multiple times during the week, so of course I am going to have an influence on them. This is why I strive every day to be the best person I can be. Being a role model for my students is a two way street. I want to be a good role model and so I try to always be aware of my actions, but without my students, the drive to do better and be better, would be lessened.

Then there is this: karate is an outlet and it goes beyond being just I have watched students come out of their shells, gain more confidence, make friends, improve behaviour and so much more. This is probably the biggest reason I started teaching and continue to teach to this day. There are world champion martial artists who have lived life with diagnosis of things like autism but against the odds and in despite of what everyone has told them, they achieved great things. How did they achieve great things? They had a sensei who believed in them enough to work with them and adapt to their lifestyle in order to help them get to where they wanted to be. If I can make even the smallest difference in my students, then I will have done something right.

There is an old saying that I may have mentioned in previous posts, "don't do karate to make money. Make money to do karate". I don't teach to earn an income that will lead me to a rich and lavish lifestyle, I teach to make the money to earn a living. The rest goes back to the students, it is invested in the students. To make their learning and karate career just that much better.

Teaching my students, whether kids or teens or adults, is also my way of training. It makes me pay attention to the details, it instills the fundamentals in my head, it brings up questions I may have never thought about before. I learn new things when I teach, I become better at my art when I teach. All of this contributes to becoming an even better teacher for my students.

I may be the head instructor in my classes, but everyone in that room is a teacher. Whether they know it or not. We make each other better...and that...that is the beauty of teaching karate. That is why I started teaching. To get better.

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