But it’s not just a six-month checkup. These goals need to be a regular reminder for both the student and the instructor. We keep these goals on their student card, and they’re visible every time they come to class.
This works as well for my elite athletes as for young kids just starting in martial arts. For my elite team members, we conduct an annual planning session to write down their goals inside and outside of Judo. And once they’re on paper, it becomes more real.
A goal is something you can quantify and it has a time limit. This is as important for your success as it is your students. They can’t just say, “I want to lose weight.” They need to say, “I want to lose 10 pounds by Easter.” It can’t be simply, “I want to get tougher,” but “I want to win 75 percent of my fights or contests.”
You may need to work with them to define those goals. And doing so can help establish an important relationship between student and instructor. Some- times, however, you need to let the student dream. I had one memorable student say his goal was to make the Olympic team. This person was nowhere near the Olympic level, but he worked incredibly hard and made the team.
Martial Arts are Special
A typical fitness gym can help people reach goals, too. But the martial arts are special, no matter what mix of arts you lead. You want to make sure your students understand the culture of martial arts, and that their goals can involve more than just physical measures.
We see this with children, of course, whose parents are hoping for assistance with a young person’s discipline or self-esteem. But it can work just as well with teens and adults. We can offer much more than just a good workout resulting in a few lost pounds. And when we do, when we help a kid improve focus in school and get better grades, or when we help a young adult improve self-esteem to get through job interviews with confidence, those are moments to celebrate.
Some of these people will be surprised at what martial arts can do for them. They’ll be surprised that it can be such a vehicle for changing self-esteem, and building confidence. And they’ll want to train with you everyday. Of course, it’s their goal and their achievement, but if you played a role along the way, you’ve built a relationship that can last a long time.
Most people forget about their staff, especially if they’re a black belt or such. But you need to keep them trained and progressing, too. We have Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 instructors, and they have their own belt ranks. This motivates the staff to keep learning and keep improving. Your students see this, they see the motivation and the drive in the instructors and that motivates students.