Training Tips of a Chief Master

Written by on August 3, 2020

Training Tips of a Chief Master






I realize that times have changed.   Many regions have several high ranks, as high as 7th or 8th degree, unheard of in my days as a lower rank.   With so many high ranks around, there probably are a lot more opportunities for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th degrees to actually take class on high rank material.  That’s a great advantage to your progress.

However, even with so many high ranks around, I still think that if you have real ambition to be one of those high ranks and to be a master and a school owner, you will be alone a lot of the time.   Besides, you probably now have a spouse and a family, a business to run, customers to take care of, all of this in addition to your own training and advancement.

You will be the first one to the academy and the last one out.  You’ll be there working alone, doing stuff “no one else can do.”

You will find yourself doing your form alone after the school closes or at the park before it opens.  You will be alone at the gym, building strength and aerobic capacity.

And most of all you may be alone making 100’s of decisions about your business from signing a new lease to firing a staff member, to changing your class schedule, to expelling a student from your program to no-changing a black belt, to paying payroll taxes, and filing tax reports.

The truism says: It’s lonely at the top.

         And that is true.

I moved away from my instructor right after earning 1st degree.  It wasn’t my choice, but I got a good job in a city two hours away.  Although we did see each other every month, that was the end of my taking regular classes from him.   Shortly after that, as a young 2nd degree, I opened my academy and began learning about being alone.

If it weren’t for my wife and partner in the business and great instructor, I never would have made it.  I’m not telling you to get married (although I hope you do find the love of your life).  I’m just saying entrepreneurship is a lonely life.  Be prepared for it and start to fill the lonely gaps as best you can.

For example, you may be doing your form in the park alone at 6 am, but you can commit to attending ATA seminars / tournaments / camps, all of which provide a great training experience.    These events put you in the company of YOUR PEERS and that relieves loneliness.  You can talk to these peers about the challenges you are facing as a business person, as a chief instructor, and as a black belt.  This experience is the most valuable service ATA offers.

Beginning in 1983, I started meeting instructors that I still know today.  We trained together 3-4 times a year and we tested and competed together over 35 years.  These friendships enrich your life immeasurably and they relieve loneliness.

So don’t be surprised if you find yourself training alone after you open your school.  Yes, it’s lonely at the top but there’s lots you can do to expand your network and feel more fulfilled.


Bill Babin
is available to speak / teach / consult at your
ministry / martial arts academy / convention / event


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