A Travelling We Will Go..

So the New Year is moving quickly on, nearly a quarter of the way through and time to get moving.

I hate standing still, I love working on new ideas and projects, most of which requires travel and networking. I try not to accept invites to teach through the winter months, as the weather in the Highlands isn’t the best. But come spring my feet start to get itchy and I need to get away.

This is something I try to promote at class, I encourage students to do other things.

Unfortunately, many instructors look at things differently. For whatever reason they stop students cross training.

I want my students to try other classes and styles. Each instructor is unique, the journey through the arts is a personal one, individual interpretations of a technique can change a student’s perception of the lessons being learned and variety is the spice of life.

From local clubs and associations to international events there are no restrictions as to who my students can train with. This swings both ways, anyone is welcome to walk through our door.

With this in mind, I contact all the groups and instructors we are involved with and ask for a list of upcoming events. Every December I post a calendar giving information so the guys and girls can plan and save.

This promotes a social side to our classes that students really enjoy.

Over the last 10 years we have travelled to events throughout the UK, Europe and the United States. Students and their families get involved in both the planning and fund raising, bringing everyone together.

I truly believe that instructors and students should make the effort to attend external courses and events. The benefits of personal development cannot be stressed enough. You get the opportunity to see places you might never have got to see. Making new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Too many groups are becoming insular, only attending events run by their own association which feature instructors from the same clubs. This is a bad thing, instructors need variety in their lives or they will go stale. It also gives instructors the chance to network, discuss techniques and business strategies.

Besides, if you attend events you are increasing the potential audience for products, services and events you host in the future.

So March sees the beginning of our travelling season.

This year it is kicking off with TAMMAA, a bi-annual event hosted by Adam Illidge in Penkridge.

Held over three days this multi-style event is open to any student or instructor regardless of rank or affiliation.

There are lectures on business governance and law on the Friday night, these are free even if you don’t attend the rest of the weekend. All they cost is your time.

The SBA has attended TAMMAA events since 2012 and would recommend them to anyone serious about training.

Hopefully we’ll see you there, if not in March in November..

Here is a short video about the event


Expectations of an Instructor..

I posted on a previous occasion about surveying my students to see what they thought of class. It started of as an exercise in marketing but ended in a personal look at training.

lets start with a question:

“How was class?”

A simple question but we seldom ask it. Feedback is important for students and instructors.

Do you know why your student trains? Well I looked at that in my last post, if you haven’t already, please read it after you have finished this one.

The other side of that question is why do you teach?

Well there are as many reasons as there are stars in the sky, I’m not going into my reasons but it is something every instructors should think about.

This post is more about my expectations of class.

What makes class better for me?

Progression, I love to see a student change and improve.

That starts with students attending regular classes.

As individuals, the students need to attend to learn. They can’t improve their techniques by sitting on their couch. Of course I understand sometimes life can get in the way but instructors have lives too. They give up valuable time to teach for little or no financial reward.

Consider this, I have a family and two successful businesses, if I can make it with my commitments so can you.

For students to progress, they need other students to train with.

As an instructor, I prefer to teach principles over technique.

This requires students of different shapes and sizes to prove the principle works. There is a “Goldilocks” number, to many students and you can’t give a personal touch. Too few and you can’t teach what you need to teach.

The final key to progression is work rate. The more a student practices a technique the easier it becomes.

If the magic number for mastering a technique is 4ooo times. At an average of 100 repetitions per class, it would take 40 classes to learn a single technique.

But how many students manage 100 reps per class? How many have the mindset for that kind of training?

So to answer the question about making class better, students need to turn up and train hard..

Thanks for reading, hopefully see you at class soon..



Expectations of a Student..

Following on from my last post, I’m going to look at the students expectations of the product “Martial Arts”.

As I’ve said before, martial arts isn’t the same as buying shoes or a burger.

But unfortunately, we have to market our product as if it is.

Students come to the martial arts for many reasons:

  • Fitness
  • Self-Defence
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Social Events
  • Discipline

With so many reasons and the current need for instant gratification, how can we meet the needs and expectations of the student? Should we change the arts to suit?

Students train for their own reasons, these may change over time but if you don’t address their immediate needs they won’t stay. So at their first lesson, I ask their reason for joining, I ask what they are looking to gain from the arts and then get them to tell me a little about themselves.

It’s important that students and class are a good fit. If both are singing off the same hymn sheet, training will be fun.

If not, there will be a parting of the ways.

Expectations can change depending of the background of the student, instant gratification can be a major issue in the arts.

The first question many students ask isn’t about cost of classes but often how long it takes to get to black belt. They are usually surprised by my answer, 5 years.

That is a long term commitment for someone that is used to next day delivery, downloading a full series of a TV show or food delivered in 10 minutes.


Martial arts training is difficult, sore muscles and fatigue are the norm.

This to can be a shock for new students.

The question is do we want full classes that are easy, fun and inclusive with everyone passing every grade?

Or do we set strict standards and maintain the quality of the techniques we teach?

Well that’s a decision each instructor makes for themselves, I’m not here to judge either business model.

I try to meet the expectations and needs of my students but not at the expense of the art.

And when it comes to class sizes, I opt for quality over quantity.

If I could make all the lessons fun, then I would. But in the end I’m more about results.

Thanks for reading, hopefully see you at class..




How was class?

As it’s a New Year and we have so many new students, I thought I would take a little survey of what students think of our classes.

So I messaged all our students, even ones who haven’t attended in a while, to ask what they thought about class. What they like and/or dislike.

The responses I received was, on the most part, positive. Although there were some constructive criticisms and issues that I will be looking into.

I was shocked by one student, they posed the same question back.

I hadn’t really thought about it, should I have any expectations of students?

As an association, we are the ones providing the service. We should be concerned about the products we sell, customer service and value for money. That’s what modern marketing teaches us, it’s all about the purchasing experience.

But learning martial arts is different from buying a pair of shoes or a burger.

So my student asking me a question has left with two topics to discuss:

“Expectations of an Instructor”


“Expectations of a Student”

Watch this space..




Time for a little one..

The New Year has come and gone.

How many of you have been to the gym, changed your diet or made the changes you said were coming in 2017?

We are now in February, 31 days have past, one twelfth of the year gone already.

How many of the promises that we made ourselves are already broken?

Now I’m not criticising or pointing fingers, I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

Last year I promised that I would put more effort into writing my blog.

I promised and then didn’t.

It’s so easy to make plans, but unfortunately life often gets in the way.

Please don’t think I’m moaning, last year was amazing.

Loads of work, courses and trips away.

From teaching seminars throughout the UK and Northern Ireland to teaching at the “Last Man Standing” event in Texas.

It’s was arguably the best run event that I’ve ever attended. Texas is definitely a place to see and I’m looking forward to my next trip in August.

So as the title says, this is just a little one to get me back into the swing of things.

Watch this space..