The first experience in a dojo can leave a permanent impression on any beginner. Some people who choose to try the martial arts will love that experience forever, while others might be discouraged and leave behind idea of becoming a martial artist and never return. It’s a complex process of finding oneself and what one wants, that will determine whether the martial arts are truly “for” someone.
The very first step in this journey of discovering the martial arts is choosing which discipline to begin with. Every discipline has different objectives, and caters to different personalities in people. If a new student of the martial arts starts with something overly passive, or perhaps overly aggressive, relative to his or her own personality traits, they may find themselves either bored or overwhelmed. Sometimes they may be looking for inner peace, but they join a martial art that emphasizes competitive sparring. The key is always to research and study well what martial arts discipline fits.
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Also crucial in this process is the instructor’s role. He must pay attention to any necessities the pupil has during the class. The important thing here is to get the pupil hooked to want to come back to the dojo as soon as possible. Like any teacher, an inspiring and encouraging instructor will have students returning for more classes, despite busy schedules or a lack of passion. On the flipside, an instructor who isn’t interesting or doesn’t engage his students, no matter how impressive and skilled he might be, will end up with fewer students, with only the most devoted continuing to come.
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When a new pupil takes part in a martial arts class, he may also have been influenced by his friends who have tried the experience before. Some will have a positive predisposition, while others might not, therefore it is very important to deliver a strong first impression. New students can be the most eager in the world, curious and excited to learn new things, but they can also be the quickest to leave if the martial arts they take up don’t meet the expectations that they got from friends or word of mouth.
It is worthwhile to explain the dojo rules: what is allowed and what isn’t, the attitude the pupil should adopt when practicing, the respect for mates, etc . It is recommended that you explain what a pupil can expect right after that first class: as the pupil is practicing new movements and techniques that the body is not used to, the day after the training he will feel pain in his body.
Martial arts philosophy and culture should be transmitted. It is very important in order to understand and love the chosen discipline. It’s not enough to have a love for fighting – remember that the martial arts are a way of life that encompasses spirituality, physicality, and mentality. This is the ultimate goal of any initial martial arts experience – to instill not only skill, but values as well. Whether or not this happens right off the bat will be determined by how well a new student responds to their first time.