Filipino Martial Arts (FMA)The Role of an Instructor

The role of an Instructor…(Part I)

Inayan Instructor Kenneth Johansson and Inayan Kadua Kristoffer Sundh

This is something that i have thought for quite sometime now, and i have also talked about it with some friends, and that is the role of an instructor.

Instructor has a big responsibility in so many different ways, and as a martial art instructor you have even a bigger responsibility. Because of what a martial arts instructor teach can ultimately save one persons life or not depending on what and how he or she choose to teach it.
The Role of an InstructorI feel fortunate that i have the chance to meet so many professional and skilled instructors. Looking back to those experiences, i have thought to myself: Did these instructors have something in common besides being very good at their respective arts. My answers was Yes, there are some things that are a common quality with these people.
I think by structuring these quality you will becoming one step closer to what defines the role of an Instructor.
So the quality that i found wich overlapped on all the instructors that i have come in contact with was:

  • Inspirational
  • Humble
  • Respectful
  • Knowledgeable
  • Knowing how to put the correct pressure on the student

One of the most important qualities of an Instructor is the ability to inspire his or hers students. I believe that an Instructor can move the students in the right direction even if he has a lesser skills than other Instructors if he knows how to inspire his or hers students. Another impressing quality is an Instructor who knows how to pressure his or hers students, so even if you are a beginner student or a season student you will feel the pressure and don’t feel safe.

So the first part I have talked about the quality that i found common in world renown Instructors, it should be said that these Instructors has a lot of other good quality, what i did was, i looked at them and tried to figured what common denominator to get closer of the role as an Instructor.

The whole reason to why I am writing this is to develop myself as a future Instructor, so when the time is right I’ll be the best that i can be, i think it was Tony Robbins ( that in beginning of his career did a similar idea, but what he did if i am not mistaken, was to interviewed people who has had a great success in their careers. I highly recommend the book ”A Note from a friend” with Tony Robbins, it is a very good and short book, truly a good inspirational book.  I have instead made my assumptions and theories on visual and audio perception, i believe that is important to say.

So comments and constructive criticism is always welcome…and hopefully other instructors season or not could get some inspiration…It should also be noted that this does not reflect a system, style or a specifics schools opinon. It is my opinon and thoughts, collected through the years  of training and discussions with friends…

9 thoughts on “The role of an Instructor…(Part I)

  1. really nice reading. An instructor should be clear to himself what he teach also. Does he go out and teach ”just” a art in traditional way or does he go out and teach it in a self protection way. Some might say it’s the same thing but is it really? If you teach and traditional art, people come to learn the art. if you would say you teach self protection people come to learn and want’s to get a training that they can belive in and rely on if they get attacked. So what im saying is that, be clear to your self what you teach and make it clear to your students what you teach.

  2. I have also thought about this and the qualities you mention are important. I think you can learn a lot by studying the instructors that you think are good instructors and try to isolate the characteristics that make them good.

  3. very deep thaughts
    maself try to simply give the best performance i can offer, always absorbing ideas of trainingmethods other instructors and even the underlaying idea of movement other arts. one should never be afraid to be creative and stuck to traditions in order to be original or follow the demand of students who want a pure art. any art started with an innovation served its historic purpose and was deeply influenced by historic moral values and culture.thats what made it effective. a pure art is an art that maintains its purpose and effectivness into these days and though has to be evolutionised along. from ancient battlegrounds and ricefields to the combat culture of todays streets bars and backalleys. jus my 5 cents, all the luck and blessings for any of your tasks in life.

  4. It was a really good idea with this blog-discussion. I think many intructors and leaders have benefit by your thouths and opinions.

    And, I can practise my english. What can I say, cred to you.
    I expecting a part II of ”The Role of an Instructor”.


  5. Written by Geezer at
    What makes a good instructor is a complex topic. One question is motivation. Why do you want to be an instructor? Some reasons are more ”noble” than others and our motivations, especially in the martial-arts can be complicated. So it’s a question worth asking yourself. Consider a few of the possibilities:

    -Money: Yes, certain kinds of individuals actually make some pretty good money doing this… and even get to travel to some pretty cool places. The catch– You’ve got to be a pretty damn high-level master, or a convincing charlatan, and either way a decent businessman to pull this off.

    -Ego: Well that’s easy enough to come by!

    -Desperate for training partners: Nobody in your area doing what you do? Get a group going and train-up a few guys. Maybe enough to support a seminar by whoever you train under. You’ve no other choice.

    -Forced to teach: In one organization I belong to, you are required to teach in order to advance past a certain level. This brings more people into the organization and makes some money for the head guys. It helps spread the art. And it actually does make better practitioners out of the probationary teachers. Unfortunately, it also pushes some into teaching who may not have the ability or temperament to do a good job at it.

    -A genuine desire to share valued knowledge: Combine this with the right temperment, ability and experience in pedagogy and you’ve got a good teacher!

    Now as for myself: I’m a school teacher by profession. And I’d like to think that I’m motivated purely by the last category, i.e. a humble and altruistic desire to share knowledge. Sadly, anybody whose spent enough time in the public school system can tell you that there are those times when a desperate need for the paltry paycheck (and benefits) are a big part of what gets us through the day!

    As far as the Martial Arts are concerned, I’d rather be a student, but I do teach a bit, partly because I’m required to by my Association, partly because it does make me a better practitioner, and mostly because (category 3 above) I’m desperate for training partners… especially in the FMA I do. Ah, sad, but true. As for money… if we ever make any, it goes right back into our training, equipment, or covering expenses. Some day we might even break even! LOL

  6. Written by Guro Dave Gould at
    Hello, I hope that all is well and that you are keeping quite challenged by your training. People have different reasons for wanting to practice Martial Arts and only each individual knows their own reasons for themselves. Myself, I never really got into the rank and grade thing, it never was an important thing to me as combative effect has always been what attracted me to the Martial Arts in general and FMA in specific. My goal was not to become an Instructor perse but rather to become combative proficient and allow my abilities to speak for me as opposed to a title or certificate hanging on my wall.

    To me this quality if found in a person makes the best Instructors as they have their priorities right; proficiency first, combative effect second and accolades and titles third. Most people who only train to become an Instructor spend so much time trying to polish their image and secure their future in the ”business” of the Martial Arts that they neglect the very essence of what the Martial Arts represent which is defined by their abilities and combative capability. Trophies, accolades, titles and certificates become their motivation as opposed to proper combative development and improving their ability to fight or negotiate crisis situations with positive effect.

    To me an Instructor should possess three essential qualities:

    1)- Proficiency of his discipline: He will be proficient in all aspects of his system and know his curriculum inside and out, so well in fact that it consumes him to the point that he can teach it as if it were literally a part of his being.

    2)- Combative effect: He will be experienced in fighting and have the ability to use his skills with positive effect in actual fights. He has adopted the actual experience itself of combat as his teacher and draws heavily from those experiences to keep what he teaches properly aligned with the realities found in street combat. He lets his abilities speak for him and not his words, trophies, accolades, titles or speculation. Combative effect is a language of its own, allowing only ones movements and abilities to either confirm or contradict words spoken out of the mouth of man. An ounce of combative truth is worth a pound of speculation.

    3)- The ability to teach: He will be able to teach his discipline well. He will be able to teach all of his strengths and none of his weakness` to his student. He will be humble and possess a genuine interest in his students development as opposed to financial gain. His goal as Instructor should be to allow his student to surpass is own skill at some point in time and have the ability for the student to become his own warrior and not a carbon copy of him the Instructor. Teaching is about guiding ones student to a certain point of development and then getting out of the way so that the student can grow and become proficient on his own based on his own experiences. The teacher is the cocoon, the student is the caterpillar and the butterfly which flies from the cocoon once it is ready to do so is the result of that labor.

    I hope that this helps you. Train well, ciao.

    Guro Dave Gould.

  7. Hi Kris,

    You’re blog is great. Glad to know that you too is a fan of Jet Li. You beat me there because I don’t have 30 dvd of him. hehehehe. One of my favorite is the Tai chi master and the Legend of the Red Dragon.

    Keep up the good works and keep in touch.

    Take care.


    1. Hi Emilyn,

      thank for your comment…. look at my gallery on my facebookaccount, there i have a photo of all the jet li movies i hade couple a years ago. Since then I have aquired some more.

      take care..
      Gumagalang Ng Lubos

  8. Written by Suro Emanuel Hart:

    Hello Boss,
    It is great to see how things have developed here. I have been meaning to post something here and now made the time to do it. I will not ramble on to much but one aspect of being a Martial Arts Instructor that I think goes with this thread is the fact that a MA Instructor (like most other area of instruction) has to be many other things besides an instructor of MA to their students (I think that is the idea of this thread). We (MA Instructors) also have to be, friends, fathers, mothers, bosses and in some cases, sons and daughters, to name a few. One of the best qualities of a good MA Instructor is to understand what their students need (or are really looking for) along with MA. For myself, my teacher was most definitely a father and a friend.
    As the commercial aspect of MA has grown over the years (many years), IMO these other aspects have been neglected or even rejected. All the aspects you mentioned are the same thing for a parent. Often these days MA Instructors don’t want to take this responsibility. In some systems that involve weaponry, this aspect (IMO) becomes very important. I believe that a good MA Instructor not lonely needs to care about the development of their students but also the development of the society they live in, as Instructors are builders of societies as well.
    OK I start to ramble. Anyway, please keep up this work boss as it is great information.
    All the best in training and life.

    Suro Emanuel Hart
    Inayan System III Eskrima

    All the best boss.


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