Being a Karate Teacher: Top 5 Favorites

“Nine out of 10 kids get their awesomeness from their karate teacher.” While that may or may not be true, I feel that I get 90 percent of my awesomeness from being a karate teacher. In no small way, it makes me be a better person. I take my responsibility as a role model seriously. And that includes the constant knowledge that I have students to set an example for. Being a martial arts instructor, however, is not all serious responsibility. It is a lot of fun! Here are my current top five favorite things about being a karate teacher:

5 When a Student Introduces a Novel Idea

It doesn’t happen often. I do enjoy hearing the input that students give because that means they are thinking about their karate lessons. But usually it’s not new to me, or it’s kind of off the track that I take on a technique. But sometimes, a student will introduce a novel idea and it’s like a light bulb coming on. For example, an elementary-school-aged young man said that Basic Exercise Four is a way to get out of a wrist grab. I had never thought of it that way before, and was skeptical. Then he showed me what he meant and it was a darn good application.

4 New Karate Games are a Favorite Part of Being a Karate Teacher

Karate games are a precarious subject for me as a karate teacher. We don’t want to focus so much on the games that they take away from our training and our focus. And, at least most of the time, they must be activities that complement training. But I have to admit that I love karate games. I have created many that are much-loved and that help augment training. I have modified games that others invented. And I have even learned new games from some very young students.

Trying out new karate games is always fun for me as an instructor. Maybe it’s because of the unknown factor. You never know how well an active group game is going to go until you actually do it. Admittedly, some game try-outs are flops that we don’t re-do. But they are at least fun to try. And some are hits that we play over and over again until they get old.

3 This Karate Teacher Loves Group Projects

Our dojo has originated many successful group projects. Such as holding a couple car washes to raise money for students to attend Karate Summer Camp in Missouri. We once participated in helping to host a nice dinner to raise testing and Camp fees for several junior students. There have been many times when we’ve practiced and put together some awesome demonstrations for schools and local youth sports groups. Not to mention doing yard work and other events to raise money for our Okinawa trip.

These were all group efforts. It wasn’t me doing the bulk of the work with minimal support. Various people carried various heavy loads and we all chipped in and helped in our own ways. People came up with ideas to support the projects and they followed through on making them happen. I just love when karate brings out the best in people, including family members who don’t even train.

2 Being a Karate Teacher of the Dojo Kun

We learn, recite and do our best to follow the Dojo Kun every day. As a karate teacher of the traditional arts, I am so happy when I see or hear of times when a student succeeds by using the Dojo Kun. Maybe they persevered to get their failing grades up, or to pass a test. Or sometimes I’ll hear of a student using self control when all they wanted to do was clobber a person. Oftentimes I’ll see them demonstrate a respectful attitude by helping those that need it most, often elders.  

1 When a Student Succeeds in Protecting Himself or Another

My karate teacher heart shines when I hear of incidents where life protection was needed and my students succeed in protecting themselves or others. Enough said.

Being a karate teacher brings joy to my life in many ways. I think it would be awesome if more people would join this path.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Karate teacher with black belt students in the background.

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