Let me explain what my job, Karate Sensei, actually entails…

I get up everyday thinking about how to teach my students better. Not just their Karate but how to make the lessons inside the dojo impact their lives in a positive manner outside of the dojo. Each morning there are at least 100 processes going on in my mind which include thinking of students who are struggling, feeling helpless at times because I can’t reach certain students or their parents, being thankful that I can help others, being proud of students who achieved even the simplest things and so many more. When I first get to my dojo I look around and think “how can I make the dojo better” and then I get to it and make it happen.
During the day I operate as a business owner should. I do marketing, budgeting, accounting, taxes, curriculum planning and more…often fitting what others get 8 hours in a day to do into about 2 hours (if I am lucky). The flood of emails I get daily include everything from “what are your prices” to “my kid is failing school and I need you to help him”. These emails take up quite a bit of time because I don’t give generic answers in them. Then you have Facebook. Social media is a neat tool but I get about 30 messages a day on here from students, parents or people interested in Karate.
In order to be the best Sensei I can be I also have to fit in my personal workout / training time each day. This is about an hour because I don’t have free time with all the above mentioned items but I never, ever miss my workout each day because I have to be the best I can be for my students. This requires me to sacrifice free time that I could be out enjoying a walk, hanging out with family or friends or doing something fun.
Then it comes time to plan out lessons for the day. This takes quite a bit of concentration and focus. I have to remember what we have done everyday for the past two weeks in order to stay on the right track and get the proper information into the students’ heads. I plan out every class to make sure it is focused, topic oriented and results come from it. I spend a few hours every week reviewing my notes, jotting down ideas and organizing them into a class plan. This requires a lot of focus.
Some of my non-daily responsibilities include organizing belt exams, certificates, preparing for PKC tournaments and helping to make our tournament region better. I also listen to people at these tournaments (parents to competitors) for feedback, document it and then organize it for our annual promoter’s meeting. No matter how small the topic is, the length of the complaint or the issue they bring up I always remember it and document it. During the year I also attend seminars, summer camps and events at other people’s schools. I sit on promotional boards for their students who are going for their black belts. I also organize and teach self defense clinics, seminars and more.
I also drive to Kokomo, Indiana every chance I get (2 hours away) to train with my own Sensei so that I can improve and offer more to my students. This takes a half day out of my own business running time but it is well worth it. Then there is the annual trip to Okinawa every year in April. In order to afford this trip I have to scrape and save heavily, often going without so many things others wouldn’t just so I can go. It entails working side jobs to earn extra money which include video recordings, photography, websites and even manual labor at times. All that is fit into my already busy weeks as if I have anytime left to do so but I do because that is what it takes to be successful…sacrifice.
Then it comes time to teach. While many will not understand this I will state I do not leave my dojo floor when I am supposed to be teaching. My students are 100% my focus and that is why I schedule people to come in to meet with me when classes are not in session if they are interested in classes. Each student in my dojo is my focus. When you sign up you get all my dedication, teaching and experience so to not give that is ethically wrong as I see it. I teach, on average, 21 classes every week…I do that. My black belts help with a few but nothing even close to my teaching schedule. In every class I have to know what they need to learn and do it with them. I don’t just stand around and give directions…I train with them.
So in an average week I work about 55 to 65 hours in my business. The next time someone wants to “negotiate” my prices and I get rude understand why. The next time someone wants me to give them a discount and I say no…understand why. The next time a person comes in looking for a “cheap” program and I get upset when they don’t sign up understand why. If my 36 years of training, 25 years of teaching and all the above don’t explain that I charge way to little for what I offer then the issue is that the person is cheap…not me. In all honesty I don’t charge enough because there are many programs within an hour of mine that charge double what I do and have 1/4 of the experience that I have…not to mention they will promote anyone to any belt rank for the right amount of money. In my dojo you earn your rank with sacrifice, sweat, hard work, dedication and discipline…you can’t buy it here.
Teaching Karate, owning a Karate school and helping people is not easy but it is what I do. I don’t just put on my uniform and teach a few hours everyday. I WORK…respect that, respect the Sensei and think about before demeaning me. Thanks 🙂
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