Opening Your Own Studio

Discussion in 'The Instructors Room' started by Ravage567, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. Ravage567

    Ravage567 Initiate

    Anyone know what rank you should be to successfully open your own studio?
    Blade Maker likes this.
  3. Master of Nothing

    Master of Nothing Psychotic Pacifist

    Unfortunately in the states. Anyone can who can market can have a "successful" school (as defined by income). Most school owners here aren't very concerned with training. Just tuition and test fees.
    My bitching aside. I think it depends on a number of factors. As far as rank-I know some great 3rd dan school owners. Granted they're still on the earlier stages of martial experience. But, they know their cirriculum and personal skills inside and out. most of these guys end up being better martial artists than business owners, unfortunately.
    As far as political standing in you local community. Having the title of "master" is always safe. Everyone wants to learn from a "master". And the other school owners will treat you with a little more respect (not much, but a little). Mainly because they either Are masters or they claim to be (usually because they opened their own school). You find most TKD 4th dan consider themselves "master"(FAIL).
    Personally when a 1st or 2nd dan open a school. Most students leave after blackbelt or before. This is due to not having experience and basicly not enough information to support a cirriculum. Which is your main "product" (lack of better term).
    Many "multi-1st/2nd dans" have the advantage of a mix of technique to keep students going. But, all their techniques for their different styles remain at a basic level. But they call themselves "masters" anyway.
    But real quick IMHO- 3rd is doable, 4th is safer, 5th (master) is ideal.
    Blade Maker likes this.
  4. Tony Phillips

    Tony Phillips Initiate

    I would say you should be atleast 2nd Dan or equivalent, though many styles and systems would say even 3rd Dan. You should check with you Dojo or school and/or association or organization for recommend guidelies on that issue. If you are opening an independent school, I would say at the very least 2nd Dan.
    Sherratt and Blade Maker like this.
  5. Joey

    Joey Martial arts is about building character

    depends, in my style karate which is Budokan, Sandan is the counted as the Sensei rank or teacher rank, it should always be a experienced/recognised and qualified, person of that style

    9th Kyu (White Belt)
    8th Kyu (Green Belt)
    7th Kyu (Blue Belt)
    6th Kyu (Purple Belt)
    5th Kyu (Orange Belt)
    4th Kyu (Brown Belt 4)
    3rd Kyu (Brown Belt 3)
    2nd Kyu (Brown Belt 2)
    1st Kyu (Brown Belt 1)
    Shodan-Ho (Black prov 1st Dan)
    Shodan (Black 1st Dan)
    Nidan-Ho (Black prov 2nd Dan)
    Nidan (Black 2nd Dan)
    Sandan (Black 3rd Dan)
  6. Master of Nothing

    Master of Nothing Psychotic Pacifist

    Although it is a school of thought. I strongly disagree with a 2nd owning their own school. Outside of a lack of experience. Their is a lack of maturity as well. Not "age" maturity, training maturity. As well as not having enough information to support a long term cirriculum.
  7. KeithW

    KeithW "Just keep training..."

    To answer the original question with a question, what does YOUR instructor think?

    In 1982, my Kyoshi started teaching in a multi-disciplinary school with a variety of styles represented. They were just the local Martial Arts Association. At the time, he was a Shodan. As the other styles within the Association began to fall away (usually because people moved or stopped training), it eventually was just Kyoshi and a following of students he had gathered. 30 years later, Kyoshi is still teaching and is now Nanadan after training with Shihan Daniel Glover in Jacksonville/Burlington, NC.

    Can you be successful (as far as duration of the dojo, not the income of the dojo) if you start teaching as a Shodan or Nidan? I suppose so, but you would do far better to train with your instructor's dojo (if it's local) for as long as possible and let your potential students learn from him/her for as long as possible.
  8. ian t

    ian t Initiate

    I would recommend at least a Ni dan as you would be required to be at least a Ni dan to grade someone to shodan unless you had others in you dojo that were that high a grade.
    Traditionally you would not be called sensei until you reach san dan you would be an advanced sempei
  9. John rushton

    John rushton Disciple

    my view is you worry less about what dan you have and more about how long and how seriously you have trained, in my wado ryu school it took about ten years to get a first dan, and id say that those who managed it could teach a better class than alot of third dans i have met who got their rank in less than that time. 3rd or above would look good though, but if you know you can do a good job of it and feel like it would be good for your own progress to teach, then go for it and dont bother with grades if you feel like your grade is not high enough to market your self- i taught "free style karate" for awhile when i was a first dan (no belts or grades), my students never questioned it because they could tell i knew what i taught, other local karate clubs being $£"%" helped to...
    Enkidu and Master of Nothing like this.
  10. Master of Nothing

    Master of Nothing Psychotic Pacifist

    I'll say that you do have a good point. As far as the quality of training. It really depends on your time in and ability (both mentally & physically). I like that even with 10 years in you still opted to market "free style" at 1st. That simple ideal allows a lot of freedom to teach without all the standard restrictions on "rank" and "title". Kudos.
    To me. The fact it took a decade of dedication to reach first. Is the ONLY exception to the dan "minimums' for school ownership. Unfortunately, from experience. The majority of those that are at 1st or 2nd are not doing anyone any favors by opening up a school. With a few exceptions (very few)
    I'll take a class from a 10 year 1st dan over the 5 year 2nd dan any day

    Hey, look at it this way. Bruce Lee didn't own a blackbelt.
    John rushton likes this.
  11. RJ Clark

    RJ Clark Tree Ninja Staff Member

    Depends on what your studio's focus is. If it's self-defense or combat sports then you don't necessarily need any rank at all. Extensive experience gained from law enforcement and/or military is more than enough to open a studio that isn't concerned with rank or promotions and is about reality-based self-defense training. In a similar vein, if you're looking to focus on combat sports then extensive experience within that realm is what you need (ideally successfully competing at some level). For martial arts and rank motivated students, the obvious minimum would be 1st dan, as that is the minimum you must have to promote anyone else.

    Ideally you continue to train and are periodically promoted so that years from now, if your students stay with you, they don't "catch up" to your own rank. Some schools will consider your instruction of your own students as continued training and will promote you on their designated timeline (I can't speak for how common that is tho). Because there is perhaps no better way to understand the intricacies of what you do as when you teach it to someone else. Some do take the stance that you cannot be promoted if you don't train in-house, under their thumb, so to speak. (This to me is ridiculous. If you take two 1st dan instructors, one opens his own studio and has multiple classes with a diverse range of students 5 to 7 days a week and the other stays in house and essentially acts as an assistant instructor. Who is really gaining more insight and experience in their art?)
  12. Blade Maker

    Blade Maker Master

    I still think the use of challenge candles would alleviate most concerns like that, you would either know it well enough to use it and teach it, or you did not... and if you did not it was apparent...
    I think you should have to defend your methodology for teaching the same way a doctoral candidate does with their dissertation. As well as the ability and aptitude test during the examination.
    Or ask your instructor when he/ she started, if you want to do it and be successful you really have get into the business aspect of it too, can the economy support a martial arts school, if not them don't dispair look for a gym, a church, a rec. center or something like that that will rent you an area by the hour that you can use a regular meeting place.
  13. RJ Clark

    RJ Clark Tree Ninja Staff Member

    this is a great point and as important or more so than almost anything else. The student base absorbs the cost of running the studio. Ideally you make enough of a profit that you are actually paid for your time and can invest some money back into the school. I don't know of many schools that stand 100% on their own. Even when one system/art is the primary school within one building they often rent out their space when not conducting class for everything from other martial artists, to dancers, cheerleading squads, etc.
  14. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    I think a lot of it really depends on who you are teaching. My first teacher was a 1st dan when he opened his own school. He might have been great. He might have sucked. I was ten and would not have known one way or the other. Now, 20 years later, he is a 4th dan and I am a 3rd. I think that if you are teaching children, it is probably fine to start at 1st dan. By the time they are experienced enough to know anything, you will be at least a second or third more than likely. I started my own school at 2nd degree but I had a lot more experience than a lot of 2nd dans. I also held 1sts dan ranks and brown belts in a couple other styles.
    Blade Maker and WonderingFist like this.
  15. WonderingFist

    WonderingFist Disciple of Mind

    You become a teacher when people want to learn off you.
    When my guys first asked me to teach them, I was iffy on it because I have no real ranking in any school I've stepped into.
    My Dad told me "Hypothetically you have 2 teachers. 1 who is 1st or 2nd Dan Black Belt, and the other who is a 5th/6th/7th. Logically, you'd learn under the 2nd teacher. He is more qualified, and he is qualified to the degree where you should probably treat him the respect of 'master'. The thing is, if people don't want to learn what he has to offer, or don't want to learn under him, and would rather the 1st black belt, then that black belt will be a better teacher...
    ...You should also ask yourself WHY they would rather the first over the second, but that comes later."
  16. Master Fahy

    Master Fahy Samurai

    Within the (WTF) TKD or Kukkiwon affiliation the requirements to open a school are this.... If your a 4th Dan black belt holder you can open a school yourself, anything lower you can open a school but you must be under a master instructor supervision (that's Kukkiwon's rules). I had opened my school while a 2nd Dan under a 7th Dan. Master Fahy
  17. Ryuus

    Ryuus Initiate

    I completely agree with this question. I'm third degree black belt right now and have thought about opening my own dojang. The only thing holding me back is that I'm in the Army and at a moment’s notice I can be told that I have to move within a couple months. That would mean I would have to close down and tell all my students to go elsewhere. When I moved away from my original instructor he told me to open my own dojang because I couldn't find one that was half as good as he was. He also mentioned the fact that I could open one under his supervision even though we were states apart. I've moved twice since then and now find myself back within the area to train under him again and plan on getting my fourth degree before getting out of the Army and still looking at opening a dojang a few towns over.

    So if I was you, I would ask your instructor what he thinks. I'm not sure what degree you are but it's always nice to have a Master/Grand Master that is willing to help you. Whether it's with testing your students, it's time for you to test, or trouble students that you just need advice with.

    Also don't open one up in the same town/city as him. That should go without saying, but in times today I see it happen all too often.
  18. Ravage567

    Ravage567 Initiate

    Thanks everyone! All the posts help. Nothing is definite so far, just something I was thinking about doing in the future. I currently only have a 1st Dan so have a ways to go. But it never hurts to start planning early!! I will definitely be asking my instructors what they think, unfortunately they no longer teach at my dojo that role has passed to me and my friends (who also have Black Belt and 1st Dan) so it's just a matter of getting a hold of them. :)
  19. RJ Clark

    RJ Clark Tree Ninja Staff Member

    No disrespect to your instructors, but the very fact that they've left it to you and you're buddies to instruct without them there is endorsement enough that you have the skill set to instruct on your own. Getting the financial aspects down is another. One other thing - ABSOLUTELY MAKE SURE YOU GET INSURED. Starting out you could overlook with all the other bills to pay and things to take care of and it could come back to bite you later.
    Master of Nothing likes this.
  20. Ravage567

    Ravage567 Initiate

    Haha. Agreed! But didn't know if there was a specific rank or not to open your own. But yea, they trained us to teach and had to completely step away...they no longer ownthe business so its rough, BUT hasn't made me lose the joy I get in teaching others.
    Master of Nothing likes this.
  21. Sherratt

    Sherratt Disciple

    my first ITF TKD instructer was 1st dan and he was great. hopefully going to resume training with him mid september...

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