Bear Martial Arts

Do I Need a Black Belt to Teach Martial Arts?

Do I Need a Black Belt to Teach Martial Arts?

We all have different goals as martial arts practitioners. For some it’s fitness, for some it’s learning self-defence. But the most common goal for most of us is that elusive, powerful, magical black belt. But a question we are often asked here at Bear Martial Arts is this – do you actually need that black belt to teach?

Certainly, within almost any club, once you are past novice level your instructor will ask you to teach a few of the novices / lower grades. All this is part of your journey to black belt, and very a sound teaching strategy.

As you become a “high grade” you will be asked to teach more and more within the class, maybe even reaching the point where you cover a class for an ill / late / holidaying instructor.

The real question though is this - when can you run your own club?

The answer is a relatively simple. Each club will have rules in place, where you reach a certain grade and you will be able to teach your own class. In this writer’s experience, my Jiu Jitsu association let me teach my own club at brown belt / 1st Kyu, whereas my Kung Fu club allows students to teach their own class at red sash (2 from black, Chinese equivalent of 2nd Kyu).

Of course, running your own club without wearing the all powerful black belt has its own set of challenges. A black belt to new comers commands a respect and sense of authority, so you will find retaining new students a challenge. But if you are good enough they will soon see that, and success will be yours.

If you are reading this and wish to teach your own class but have not yet reached black belt, have a chat with your instructor and find out what their rules are – you’ll then know what goal you need to set yourself when it comes to gradings.

Teaching a club Is very different to running one, so unless you are setting up your new class on the same night as your current training night (your association would frown upon you setting up direct competition!) make sure you keep your training up as well, so you can eventually earn that black belt.


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