We all expect martial arts instructor accountability, but have you noticed that, more often than not, allegations of misconduct, inappropriate sexual behavior, and improper teaching methods by martial arts instructors, have been making the headlines across the nation. The public’s trust is a fragile thing. That trust can be lost for many instructors by the conduct of just one instructor. Once trust is lost, it takes a long time to restore that trust, if, in fact, it can ever be restored.
Those of us who choose to become teachers of the martial arts, whether a Sifu, Sensei, Segung, Hanshi, Shihan, master, or Grand Master, whatever title you wish to wear, we took a silent oath to serve our students, to set an example of principled conduct, and to impart to our students those principles, and ethics we were taught by our teachers. We wear our uniforms with our fancy colored belts proudly, and we train to be the best at what we do. The public, and our students, rightfully, has high expectations, even when we operate our schools under less than ideal conditions on most occasions.
In the martial arts, we should support one another, function as a team; we should lead by example; hold each other and ourselves accountable to the highest of standards. As instructors of the martial arts, it is incumbent upon us to police one another, because the eyes of our students, our parents, and the public are upon us.
We must do the right thing – not because we could be caught doing otherwise, but because that is who we are as Masters and Grand Masters of the martial arts. There is no room in the martial arts for those who do not uphold the tenets and principles of the arts, whose act or actions will bring discredit or disgrace to the martial arts.
Share these thoughts with one another and with your assistant instructors at every class, because we have seen the ramifications of highly publicized performance failures from martial arts instructors. Unfortunately there are individuals who wear a black belt and even carry the title of Master or Grand Master and they have absolutely no idea what the martial arts are truly about. These individual should not be teaching the arts to anyone and it is up to us to hold these individuals accountable and to either help them gain the moral aptitude, knowledge and proficiency necessary to teach with integrity or see that they do not teach, otherwise their unbecoming activities will continue to bring disgrace and dishonor to the martial arts.
Men and women who choose to become martial arts instructors are exceptional people and they should exemplify professionalism at its best. I believe that our reputation for professionalism depends on martial arts instructor accountability, because our students, parents, and the public, are counting on us.
Grandmaster Byron Mantack