Don’t let your SDCs oversell GKR

It may seem that GKR is all about the numbers – recruitment, activations, and average class attendance, but ultimately, GKR is about improving people’s lives. To some managers, the students may appear to be nothing more than numbers on a balance sheet, but the truth is, each of those numbers is someone’s life. A student mistaught may pay the price with their life for that error if they depend upon their karate and find it comes up wanting. Looking at things less melodramatically, new students whose expectations of karate is too high, will possibly quit, and may never try karate again.

We all know what a life-changing, life affirming activity karate is, and I’m sure that we all want to share that fantastic experience with as many people as we can. That’s why it’s so important that the SDCs are honest when promoting GKR. I’ve known my share of SDCs who would change their family history to gain empathy; make up any sob story; tell any lie in order to sign up another member. Worse still, the SDCs will sell to anyone. I know that we say GKR is for everyone. I’ve seen a one-legged man training, I’ve seen pensioners trainings, I’ve even seen kids in wheelchairs training.  I’ve seen endless numbers of ADHD and behaviourally disturbed kids in class, but there has to be a line somewhere

 Recently at my, an adult man turned up who hugged half the kids on his first lesson, tried to steal one of their watches at the end of class, and was clearly suffering from major psychological problems. This fact was clearly revealed by his slurred speech and his tendency to let his eyes roll zombie-like up into his head for minutes at a time. Now I’m not saying that this man-child shouldn’t be encouraged to take up social activities, but a public class, attended by children, taught by an instructor untrained in dealing with severe emotional disturbances is not the place. I really resent the SDC who knocked at his special needs care home and knowingly signed him up, and then didn’t even have the courtesy to warn me. The SDCs are the first line of defence to ensure that only appropriate people attend the class. Sure, the senseis can instil some discipline, and even deal with reasonably troublesome kids, but it only goes so far. Sometimes one bad student can lose ten good ones. This is especially true in classes with a single sensei, as the sensei devotes a disproportionate amount of energy and time on the challenging student, and worse still, has their own confidence and enthusiasm dented by trying to cope with students that they are unqualified to handle.

Selling karate is like selling food – almost everyone needs it, and almost everyone can benefit from it. I understand that the SDCs sell a dream based on the benefits that karate can offer them, but if that dream cannot be delivered upon by the senseis, all you do is bring the entire club into disrepute.