The Business Side of Martial Arts
The Power of Spirit
By Christopher Caile
I was meeting a friend at his martial arts school recently. While waiting
for him, I looked in on a class. What immediately struck me was the teacher.
He seemed just to be going through the motions.
He just stood there giving
commands with no facial expression, except perhaps tiredness. There was
no spirit in his voice or his actions. I
thought to myself, “this teacher is failing his students.”
teacher was forgetting that for each student in his class this was probably
his only class of the day, his only encounter with that
It reminded me how important spirit and enthusiasm are. In teaching
they are critical factors in attracting and retaining students. Even
if the teacher has physical limitations, if these factors are present,
they more than compensate.
The teachers we remember, those we look up
to and are inspired by, are those who energized us with their love
of their art, the spirit by which
they taught and by the words and stories that inspired us.
ago in Buffalo, New York, where I lived at the time, at the State University
there was a teacher named Jake. Although he had a bad
hip and walked with a cane when not in class, his classes were inspirational.
taught on the University’s North Campus in a dark basement
area covered with ribbed rubber mats. This was obviously not an ideal
area, but when I visited there must have been 80 students there.
magic was his personality, his spirit and his enthusiasm. His class was
a bit old school with lots of repetition mixed with strict
etiquette. He would lead class with a deep, bellowing authoritative voice,
but also mix in humor and smiles. His speech moved through English, Spanish,
to Japanese and some Korean.
Throughout class he motivated his students
with his spirit, and his spirited cadence. He loved karate and loved
teaching. It showed and his
enthusiasm was infectious.
He was able to convey the feeling that each
student mattered, and challenged each of them to do his or her best.
He develop within his students an
unstoppable spirit and drive to make them feel like they could do anything
if they put the effort into it – all through the practice of karate.
bred excitement, and students became more interested and were less
likely to drop out.
I’m not talking about contrived methods for creating enthusiasm – a
spoken creed, or the use of clapping in class. I’m speaking of
conveying your own excitement and love for you art through your teaching.
I’m speaking of your ability to inspire and challenge your students.
may have different ways of achieving this goal. Each of us is different.
But, if you find yourself just going though the motions
and not enjoying teaching, you are likely letting down your students.
They will be less motivated and less likely to continue their studies.
About The Author:
Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of
FightingArts.com. He has been a student of the martial arts for over
43 years. He first started in judo. Then he added karate as a student
of Phil Koeppel in 1959. Caile introduced karate to Finland in 1960 and
then hitch-hiked eastward. In Japan (1961) he studied under Mas Oyama
and later in the US became a Kyokushinkai Branch Chief. In 1976 he followed
Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura when he formed Seido karate and is now a 6th
degree black belt in that organization's honbu dojo. Other experience
includes judo, aikido, diato-ryu, kenjutsu, kobudo, Shinto Muso-ryu jodo,
boxing and several Chinese fighting arts including Praying mantis, Pak
Mei (White Eyebrow) and shuai chiao. He is also a student of Zen. A long-term
student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong, he is
a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture
Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President of the DS International
Chi Medicine Association. He holds an M.A. in International Relations
from American University in Washington D.C. and has traveled extensively
through South and Southeast Asia. He frequently returns to Japan and
Okinawa to continue his studies in the martial arts, their history and
tradition. In his professional life he has been a businessman, newspaper
journalist, inventor and entrepreneur.