The Six Signs Your Instructor Sucks – The Self Defense Company

The Six Signs Your Instructor Sucks

The Six Signs Your Instructor Sucks

Your instructor could be a world champ, Navy Seal, Black ops Killing Machine…but that doesn’t mean they can teach a good class or be a good coach. We’ve put together the TOP six signs you might not be getting what you bargained for in your training.

  1. No course curriculum.
    Not having a curriculum is like embarking on an around the world journey without a map and compass. It’s nearly impossible to teach and even more impossible to learn without a road map to tell you where you’re going. You should know exactly what is expected of you for each rank and certification.A curriculum does two things. First, it keeps the validity of your training in tact. This ensures that you’re learning the correct skills and there’s continuity in the system. Without it, your style will fall victim to being modified by every instructor who teaches it. Like the child’s game of telephone, it will be modified by everyone who touches it.Secondly, it holds your instructor accountable. Learning is a two way street because you take the time, and pay money for a product, you should receive that product.  As an instructor I am always reviewing lesson plans because the majority of the time, I discover an important point I would have left our of the lesson. 
  2. No lesson plan. 
    The worst thing an instructor or coach can do is “wing it”. Showing up to a class and not having a plan to take full advantage of the time is disrespectful to your students and your system. Every class should have a well thought out structure with a progressive learning structure.Your instructor should also have a monthly lesson plan so you know exactly what’s being covered in each class. This will will help you work towards your rank faster because instead of showing up and hoping you’re going to learn what you need, you will be able to plan to attend those classes.
  3. No out of class reinforcement.
    The University of Southern Florida Teaching College conducted a study and discovered that after a class or a seminar, without any out reinforcement, students only retained 10% of what they learned. And after a few weeks, 90% of that was forgotten.

    In a typical martial arts system the only time you’re learning is IN CLASS. This means the only time you learn is in front of the instructor. Further more, beginners are discouraged to practice on their own for fear of doing it wrong.This is true, however, if students were given access to videos, books and other multimedia like you do in any other education program, you would be able to practice on your own. This will accelerate your learning exponentially. To be honest, i

    n this day and age, not having the tools like video, to practice what you learned in class is unacceptable. 

  4. Excessive Conditioning
    A sign of a lazy instructor is excessive conditioning. Anyone can make you run wind sprints or do a bunch of calisthenics – it takes ZERO thought. A good instructor will provide the same type of conditioning training through drills based on developing your skill.Burst drills in the SDTS for example (30 second rounds of beating the crap out of your target as hard as you can) will give you the same cardio benefit as burpees but with the added benefit of developing real fighting skill.  At the end of the day, it’s not complicated, it just needs to be set up and administered.
  5. Excessive Sparring
    This is similar to excessive conditioning. It doesn’t take any imagination or  effort to have a class where everyone is rolling around and the instructor corrects random mistakes he happens to catch. 
    The problem with sparring too much is that people get lazy and form bad habits. Because there will come a point where both you and your partner will slack off. It’s only natural when you’re working with friends.Instead, controlled, short term drills and frequent rotation of partners works A LOT BETTER. 

    In reality your typical class session for a sport martial arts should only have about 10-15% of live sparring. 

  6. Low energy level and lack of engagement
    When you’re teaching YOU NEVER HAVE A BAD DAY. It’s not about you, it’s about the people who are paying you to prepare them. It’s doesn’t matter what happened in your life, for those few moments you’re on the floor teaching – you better be on your A GAME. If not, pick another career. 

Being an instructor doesn’t mean you’re the best fighter in the room, or whatever bullshit you want to believe. If you’re an instructor, you’re an educator. You’re providing a service and when it comes to the Self Defense Company, its a service that will save a life. 

Teaching “The Perfect Class” only looks easy….but…

…behind every lesson should be decades of research and planning.

If this is something you want to learn more about then you should check out our next free webinar:


This coming Tuesday, June 13, Director of Instructor Development for the Self Defense Company George Hutchings is hosting a FREE webinar at 8:30 pm eastern time.


To join the call Go to:

Or call  716-293-8913 and use PIN 30797

If you want to receive reminders, receive notification when the recording is posted and learn more about the Self Defense Company Instructor Program…

Go to: 

Fill out the online application and we’ll send you updates.

Train (and Teach) Honestly,

Damian Ross
The Self Defense Company

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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  1. After 40 years researching Self Defense and having black belts in numerous arts, I honor you for your knowledge and dedication and I apologize for any statements I may have said that were inappropriate.
    This is the real thing. I would take off my 9th degree to learn this system it resembles mine yet I consider myself a student teacher. I’m chomping at the bit to teach again however I am recuperating from a below the knee amputation. I want to help the rest of us who are differently abled. Funds at this time are unavailable to take an instructor course. Thanks for getting to the meat and potatoes of true self defense.
    Jeff Bam Bam Voorhies
    Head coach Street Smart System of Self Defense

  2. Much appreciated Jeff and that’s the same revelation I experienced some time ago. It’s not easy to look past all of that time and money…blood sweat and tears to realize the simplicity of what we really need for self defense.

    Now you can look at martial arts and find the truth buried with in them. It’s in there but it’s been covered up with the complexity of sport and ceremony.

    Your best bet for now is the Elite Membership – it will give you all of the core training lessons. The instructor program takes care of the business and teaching aspects.

    Glad you found us Jeff.

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