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Kovar Systems
Staff Development Instructor Tips

Never Compromise the Martial Arts Instructor-Student Relationship

By Dave Kovar

The following is an excerpt from my Martial Arts Instructor Toolbox book. 

The bond between Martial Arts instructors and their students can become very powerful. We are teaching life-transforming concepts in addition to the physical arts. Just like when you fell in love with your teacher back in school, your students (of ANY age) can develop intense feelings toward you. It is imperative that you understand this and NEVER take advantage of your role as their instructor.


Remember that the instructor/student relationship is all about mutual respect. Be sure to exemplify the concepts you teach by maintaining the proper demeanor with your students.

Be Completely Professional.

In order to be completely professional in your instructor/student relationships, never compromise the instructor/student relationship. This might take great self-control and discipline sometimes, especially in the case of mutual attraction with one of your students or the enthusiastic insistence of a student or parent that you become part of their lives on a personal level. While there are numerous scenarios that could occur, you’ll be safe if you follow these simple guidelines:

  • Be friendly, but not a friend. Developing a strong friendship with a student can compromise your professional relationship.
  • Be personable, but not personal. Small talk is fine, but steer clear of talking about the details of your personal life.
  • Never use your influence for selfish gains. It’s inappropriate to misuse your influence as an instructor to get a date or purchase something for a discount.

As Martial Arts instructors, we have the privilege to be leaders and role models in our community. That privilege comes with a big responsibility to act with integrity in order to earn the respect we are given. Sometimes leadership can feel lonely, so never forget the positive impact martial arts has on your students and remind yourself how you are changing the world for the better every time you step out onto the mat.

I also encourage you to join fellow leaders by becoming a member of the Satori Business Community. Our community of martial arts instructors work together to tackle the latest challenges to the industry and collaborate on cutting-edge solutions for their schools.


by Dave Kovar