Modern Urban Combat Tactics (M.U.C.T)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finding A Good Instructor....(The most important technique)

A good instructor is what will make or break your training. The instructor you choose is far more important than the art you pick, don't get me wrong the style you pick should suit your needs but a good instructor is what will make the style you choose understandable. So what makes a good instructor, what should you look for?
Now I am not talking about rank or personality, those things do play a part but I have had instructors with bad personalities, that were excellent instructors and I have also had very high ranking instructors (one being an Olympic coach) that were terrible instructors and for lack of a better term had there head up their ass, but as is the case very often politics plays a role. I have also been very fortunate to train with some excellent teachers and instructors and they all have had certain qualities in common, I also fancy myself a decent instructor make sure I am all the things that I look for in my own instructors. So here is what to look for in no particular order.

  • Humble
  • Are approachable, which means that you can ask them questions and they will gladly answer them.
  • Are able to explain why something is what it is or is done a certain way.
  • Is continually learning, or is a perpetual student.
  • Never ever uses the phrases "just because", "because it just is", "because I said so" or "just do it and don't ask questions"
  • Will except that his or her art is not perfect and that other arts are effective and have value.
  • Can recognize the weak spots of their art and work to improve them accordingly.
  • Has PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE!!!! Very important.
  • Practices what they preach.
  • Is more interested in their art then selling it, in other words they should teach  because they love their art and or the martial arts and want to practice every day not that they are looking to turn a profit. (let me clarify I am not saying that making money doing what you love is a bad thing, what I am saying is that if you only want to sell your art and don't want to perpetuate your art than you are a charlatan)
  • Has a  excellent reputation and or a good lineage.
  • If teaching a combat oriented art, they should be  teaching realistic and practical techniques. ( never says "you attacked me wrong" lol)
  • Does not hop on band wagons, or follow pop culture trends ( i.e. just because mma or Bjj are popular doesn't mean you have to add them to your schools repertoire or curriculum)
  • Knows the history of their art and is true to it.
  • Has a good working knowledge of how the body works.
  • Does research on any and all aspects of the martial arts including violence, crime, psychology and the weapons used to battle it. 
  • Never says that you can earn your black belt in a year or two. (that is a sure sign of a Mcdojo, or black belt factory, a black belt or instructor rank takes years of training and diligence to earn).
So please, like anything that you are going to spend precious time and money on do your research, be a smart consumer. But please don't be mislead by misconceptions such as age, rank or title. The amount of stripes on someones belt or their age shouldn't be your only concern when picking a teacher (although their is something to be said about age and wisdom) but the quality of their instruction and experience. On a final note don't be taken in by flash and showmanship a good quality instructor doesn't need all the fancy wrapping, and don't let a big name draw you in they may not be as amazing as you think.
If I missed anything please feel free to contact me and let me know. But if you keep this list in mind when searching for a teacher or teaching yourself you will be pretty well off. Be ready train hard. Couldn't resist...see below to see an example of the worst instructor.

"Real Violence Needs Real Solutions"


  1. Great points as always! And I applaud your use of the In Living Color bit, classic!

  2. How would a good instructor handle the potential student showing up with such a list of demands?

  3. Well they aren't demands they are qualities and expectations but a instructor who is truly a good one would have no problem you aren't asking anything of them other than to be and do what they are supposed to do. It is like asking a doctor to explain what is wrong with you, why it happened and what you can do to cure it. If a doctor was like your sick and told you nothing else you would go to a different doctor so why should it be any different remember they are working for you if you pay them. And if they are teaching for free than they probably have all those qualities anyway because they teach out of love.

  4. Is this not like a sick person going to a doctor and demanding a particular treatment?

  5. Not at all it is like a sick person expecting a certain level of professionalism and treatment from the doctor they are employing. A good instructor is like a good doctor they can diagnose and prescribe a plan to fit the individual. You have to treat and cure the problem not the symptoms.

  6. If an instructor read this list from your blog and thought to make changes to his teaching, would he be hopping on a band wagon or following pop culture trends?

  7. Changes to the way you teach are quite different from what you teach. Being a better person or teacher really doesn't change what you are teaching or how you are marketing yourself it has more to do with your students well being.

  8. Should the instructor be in the service of his students or should he be in the service of his art?

  9. Why can't he be in the service of both...Being true to what you teach and being available to your students should not interfere with each other.

  10. How many questions can I sincerely ask before you must take a break from explaining yourself to me? :-)

  11. If you ask I will answer...thats part of being a good instructor, be it online or in person.

  12. Then I, the potential student, have taken control of this encounter. Is this all that this would-be teacher has to teach me?

    It is not necessary to respond, since surely I'm playing a game of sorts. I personally believe it is noble to serve and to sacrifice for students, but this desire should be recognized as exploitable. Does the typical, potential martial arts student come seeking a teacher who will show him how to be exploited?

    If a student says, "Show me now how not to be bullied," how should the teacher respond?

  13. It is all a game of sorts but by asking questions for which you desire no answer you are essentially wasting what valuable time you have, and therefore negate any learning that could be done by asking questions. As for show me how not to be bullied, you must ask yourself how and why you are being bullied before one could answer that question. Remember there are no stupid questions only stupid people.

  14. Humbly, I would suggest that you have missed the opportunity to demonstrate that you are the perpetual student by appreciating the time a teacher has just spent with you. This is the danger when a student has a preconceived notion of how a teacher should appear :-)

    Thank you for the exchange, MUCT. I appreciate your sincerity and your dedication to students.

  15. I do appreciate the exchange as well but I believe you have missed my point. I was not illustrating how a teacher should appear I was illustrating qualities that make an instructor a good one. Now I know that you may think that this is the same but, but as a teacher you should teach, I realize that to you talking in Koans may be teaching but I believe you missed the point. When you buy a car you expect it to drive when you buy a computer you expect it to be able to connect to the internet these are universal truths and qualities. If a car doesn't drive then it is of no use, if a computer doesn't compute then it is just a paper weight which is fine if you want a paper weight. But if one doesn't know what a car should do or a computer should be capable of then they should do some research and see what makes a good car or quality computer, and that is the information I have provided. These are not commandments but ideas. Things written in stone cannot be erased thats why man invented the pencil.




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