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Mr P
Mr P's picture
Make my club more practical!

I act as an assisstant instructor at the club I train in. The main focus of the club tends towards sports karate (although nobody ever enters competitions). I would prefer the club to be more practical self defence orientated and do drills similar to those demonstrated by Iain. How can I win over my instructor to change or should I just set up on my own?

Kravate101's picture

This is the million dollar question perhaps as we evolve as martial arts students. I've came to the conclusion that the vast majority of stuff out there is a load of rubbish-after a few years of basic training-because of the emphasis on sport, aesthetics and so called "tradition". 

You could try to lend a few of Iain's videos to your sensei-see if you'll even get an openness there. You could explain calmly and clearly your new insights etc. But-you might well have to walk: start up on your own...get into self defense as a specialism etc.

There are all kinds of guys out there in all walks of life who will believe themselves to be experts with years of experience. In reality they have two or three years of experience repeated!! However, having discovered new meaning in our martial skills we must not become haughty or proud and must not judge those still practising in a different way. But as Geoff Thompson wrote "if you always do what you've always done you will always get what you've always got." 

Best of luck-and don't simply learn to settle for what you've outgrown.

Zach_MB's picture

You'd probably be better off looking for another club, one that already is headed in the direction of SD. I'm not saying that clubs can't change, but a shift from sport to self defense doesn't happen over night. People training for sport are often uninterested in SD or believe that they are already getting it through their sport training. If there is a void in your current club that the students feel, then you may have an opportunity to incite some change. But otherwise you will probably end up frustrated when they aren't receptive to the material.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Well, it depends on your relationship with your teacher. If you are on a sort of peer level, it might be worth bringing up as a suggestion, especially if he asks you sometime what you'd like to do with a class etc. If it were me that's what i'd try..if he ever asks you "ok we have some free time, what now"...just say "you know, I saw this guy Iain's video and thought it looked like fun, let's try this".

On the other hand, it's his class, and as such he can run it however he wants, if it's going to create friction, don't do it. If it seems like it wouldn't be appropriate to you ot bring it up, then in a likelihood it isn't.

If this is the case, it might be worth looking at some kind of peer study group you can do outside the dojo, or to look for an instructor that is doing something more like what you want...however good instructors in combative Karate don't exactly grow on trees...so you may be left to your own devices. Seriously though, if you have a few friends with a bit of training and interest you can learn alot.

Good luck!

MykeB's picture

Mr P,

I think Zack Zinn has the right of it.  If the main instructor is up to it, approach him about at least trying a few work outs aimed at SD.  If he's open to it, try leading a few work outs.  Have your ideas and drills well laid out so you can go through things smoothly.  How you present things will matter, especially that first impression.  If the head man isn't open to letting you lead a few classes, check on some before or after class work outs will interested parties.  It's about finding the middle ground if you want to stay where you are.  If it smells like a hostile take over to the instructor, you're going to have more trouble.  If you try all that, you may have to go your own way, or find an instructor to join with.  Or search out some other orphans and form a training group of peers.  Regardless of the path you take toward this, best of luck sir.

Mr P
Mr P's picture

Thanks for replies, some good points to think about. I will try to see if I can change a bit from within but fear I might have to choose between my current club with friends I like training with and feel loyal to or another club I know of that trains on the sme night but some distance away.

Will let you know how I get on next month.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Some solid responses I think. Nothing much to add other than there is this podcast I did a while ago that touches on how to introduce the idea of practical / kata bunkai to others without causing friction. Hopefully it may have something of value in it:


All the best,


Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Wish you the best on your quest.

Regards this position , when ti comes to senior grades its the same as when selling a product, make it seem like it was their Idea and that' you're assisting them with their choices etc.


Mr P
Mr P's picture

Hi, one year on from my origional post above. I thought it was worth saying that I have finally set up my own club. We started lessons at the begining of October. It was a great learning curve checking out associations, getting insurance, CRB checks, hall hire and advertising. I am using focus pads and kick shields and taught some basic grapple and bunkai techniques. Managed to get to one of Iain's seminars instead of just watching the DVD's and reading. As I come across things I will probably post more questions as I realise I need to clarify the whys and how's of teaching a more practical approach to karate.