Burnout.. Who teaches the teachers?

I have had the pleasure of working with some very talented people over the years. These are people who are passionate about the world of martial arts. These are good, hardworking people who sometimes struggle every day to offer a quality service and keep the doors open. Many schools have a limited amount of equipment which often needs to be replaced. The struggle is real for those who are called to teach. This is a calling that can lead to burnout.

If you ask most instructors about the last time they took a vacation, they will often give you a sad tired laugh. Now mention a sabbatical and they will look at you like you grew an extra arm. In many teaching professions, such times away are set up well in advance. A way to refill the cup that so often is in desperate need of replenishment. But how do instructors do that when you have a small struggling school?


Seminars are a great way for instructors to play the role of student again. Weather it’s traveling to another school or bringing the guest teacher to their location. It also gives the schools teachers new ideas for things they want to pass along to their students.

Student Teachers

Teach to learn and learn to teach. Many schools have students that have been attending for some time and want to share their insights. It’s also a great way to fill in any staffing gaps in your roster. This will help develop the student and boost morale in the ranks. Plus, you might get a much needed break. Even if it’s for only one night a week.

Scheduled time off

You are going to have to do it at some point. Taking one scheduled day off per month may seem small but it’s really important. It gets instructors out of the frenzy and will help with some much-needed perspective.

Watching people shut down

As I walked into my bank, a young man in his early 20s was blocking the entrance. He stood with his back to me at a parade rest. His demeanor was strange, as if on something or mentally unstable. He had short brown hair and was sloppily  dressed in a gray shirt and blue jeans. He was holding an unlit cigarette. He was accompanied by a man who was standing in line to do his banking. This man was in his mid to late 50’s, had a gray beard and was dressed in a black baseball cap, white t-shirt, and black shorts.

I asked the man blocking the entrance “are you in line?”  In a confused state, he muttered something and stepped aside enough for me to pass. He then resumed his original position. His companion, who was standing about 15′ ahead of him in line, asked him to take a seat. He took a seat for about 30 seconds then stood and paced around the waiting area. He then proceeded to remove his shirt about 3/4 off his body revealing a tattoo that appeared to be gang related. He then lowered the shirt. As I scanned the room to analyze the reaction of emp[employees and customers, it appeared that people were mentally shutting down. Rather than being on alert and  preparing for a potentially hazardous situation, they tuned it out and continued on with their activity as if hoping the problem would resolve itself. They were drifting into compliance mode. Both men left the bank together but the one who had blocked the entrance tagged behind, staring back through the bank windows, scanning the room. I’m not sure if he was high or if it was something else.

When people face something they are not prepared for they tend to shut down.

Neutered Men

I went in to pay my rent today. It was a day like any other. The only real difference was that I forgot to remove my knife that I wear on my side. Its nothing special. A fixed blade single edge with a bone handle in a leather sheath. The women working there said their usual pleasantries. But I did notice their eyes as they caught a glimpse of the knife resting on my right hip.

I thought about this for some time afterwards and realized why they seemed shocked and uncomfortable. They were used to dealing with neutered men. Most men in the 21st century are not armed. If you look back at days gone by, You will see this to be a fairly modern trend. Men in most civilizations carried weapons. It was normally a knife or an axe but it could have also been a machete or sword. We knew that there were dangerous animals not far from our tribe and that it would be the man’s job to deal with such threats.In our modern age we have outsourced our duties as men to a group of strangers who aren’t even legally required to protect us.

In the news we hear of active shooters at our schools,churches, shopping centers and far too many other places to mention. These attacks have a very common theme. An armed bad guy or group of bad guys  attack a group of unarmed and unaware people who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A knife is not a gun but in certain circumstances it doesn’t have to be. A knife doesn’t run out of bullets. If you swing and miss your target you won’t risk killing the child across the street. As men it’s our role in the tribe to be protectors. That means carrying the tools needed to get the job done. No matter who it makes uncomfortable.

Active self-defense  vs passive self-defense.

Active self-defense consists:of the following skill sets:

  1. Your education on a particular subject or technique.
  • Weapons
  • Ground fighting
  • Striking
  • Fitness
  • Mentality

2. Tools and/or weapons used in a combative situation:These may be categorized as projectile or melee depending upon the intended use. Typically projectile tools are designed to leave the body towards its intended target while melee tools are intended to remain attached to the users body for use in close range situations.

Projectile include but are not limited to:

  • Gun (bullets)
  • Bow and arrow
  • Sling shot.

Melee  include but are not limited to:

  • Sword
  • Knife
  • Club
  • Bat


Passive self-defense doesn’t require any skill sets. It may include your clothing, footwear, and useful tools and structures. Passive self-defense may be used to defend against an attack or against environmental conditions or elements.

Defense against attacks may include but are not limited to::

  • Body armor
  • Structures between you and the danger
  • Protective clothing such as


  • If you are wearing flip flops shorts and a t-shirt, you may be lacking when it comes to dealing with a knife attack.
  • Are you caring cash? It is another useful tool should you need to buy your way out of a dangerous situation. .
  • Does your footwear allow you to run at a moment’s notice?
  • Pockets are great because they allow you to store self-dense tools
  • A flashlight can be used as a weapon, both to disoriented attacker by shining in the eyes or using as a blunt strike weapon.
  • Something as simple as a bandanna can be useful for adding a rock or coin and using as a flail or strangulation device.
  • A quality knife has self-evident qualities in a defensive situation. You don’t want the blade detaching from the handle when in a serious situation. You want it to fit comfortably in your hand and to have a good grip. This subject will be covered extensively in a separate article.

Defense against environmental elements may include but are not limited to:

  • Flashlight
  • Warm, dry clothing
  • Protective footwear,
  • Cell phone


  • If you are wearing flip flops shorts and a t-shirt, you may be lacking when it comes to dealing with unfavorable environmental conditions..
  • Are you caring cash? It is another useful tool should you need something and the stores card machine is down.
  • Does your footwear allow you to climb over obstacles
  • Pockets are great because they allow you to survival tools
  • A flashlight can come in handy on a daily bases. If you find yourself in an area with poor visibility. It will prove useful in safely navigating terrain and finding lost items.
  • Something as simple as a bandanna can be useful for providing first aid as a tourniquet, covering your face in a fire, and as a sling to support an injured limb.
  • A knife also makes for a great accessory. Besides the obvious fighting application, a knife has proven to be a useful tool in many situations. It can be used to cut yourself out of a seatbelt in a car accident, to make primitive tools. I may also be used in first aid to remove a foreign object from flesh, cauterize a would  or use as a tourniquet handle. Many knives now come with options such as a screw driver set attached.

Remember that when you need certain things like cash or the ability to cut someone out of there seatbelt. You don’t kind of need them you really need them. .

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