I recently had the privilege of attending the Assistant Instructor course for Jitsu Canada. This course is a requirement for the purple belt level in their organization. It’s a half-day course that trains students in the leadership skills that are expected of them at their belt level. They also have an Instructor course, required for brown belt and a Club Instructor course, required for 1st degree black belt.
Having a university background in Communication and Training, I have been meaning to put together some leadership courses tailored specifically for my Vancouver/Richmond BC martial arts dojo. I am now planning to run my first Assistant Instructor course early in the new year.
The purpose of this course is to teach intermediate colour belts how to run warm-ups and cool-downs, how to assist fellow students in their training, how to teach breakfalls, how to help fellow students with dojo etiquette, how to set an example for other students, etc. This will be a grading requirement to reach purple belt from now on. I will also be creating an Instructor course that will be required for brown belt, which teaches senior colour belts further leadership skills, classroom management skills, technique demonstration skills, etc. This is designed to support their learning as an apprentice instructor. Students of both classes will also receive manuals for reference.
Leadership is very important for the overall health of a dojo as newer students look to their seniors as an example of how to behave and what they can expect as they themselves develop. Most dojos impart these skills organically, meaning there are no set leadership classes. They simply lead by example and hope for the best. This can be an effective system, but sometimes certain information slips through the cracks. By having a set leadership training program, it ensures that everyone at certain belt levels are on the same page and that the leadership of the dojo is united in its approach.
And now to you… what is the leadership training like in your dojo? Do you find that it helps build effective leaders? What kinds of skills would you like to see in such a program?