By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, December 7, 2005.

The primary thought that should be in place prior to the creation of a Martial Art School is the establishment of standards. Expectations and models of examples should be well thought out. What are the exact specific expectations? Are the models of standards transferred from a prior standard or are the models derived from one's own self-created standards. Anyone can follow the standard that has been left by someone else, but standards can be surpassed if it is the desire of the individual or group to reach to a higher standard. Any standards that are left do not necessarily mean that they are good examples, so one must decide what product and organizational standard one wants.

If an individual or group decide that there should be expectations, they must be stated specifically. What are your philosophical expectations? What are your technical expectations? What do you want from your staff? What do you want from your students? These questions must be answered; otherwise, one's school will have no direction, and it will have no substance. No one likes to experience a hollow feeling because there's no meaning, and it falls apart like a chair with weak legs. If one does not want one's organization to fall apart, then standards must be in place, and they must be in place firmly.

Ethics, honor, integrity, and responsibility can fall under the category of philosophical standards. If any school is going to survive long-term, the owner and instructors must have a conceptual understanding of these spiritual points, and they must be willing to apply them. Make no mistake that these points are spiritual. The moment that ethics, honor, integrity, and responsibility decline is the exact moment the organization and the individuals decline as well.

Technical standards are affected by the lack of ethics. Technology cannot exist in the absence of ethics. If an instructor or student is omitting or incorrectly applying techniques, technology gets altered; therefore, the effectiveness of the techniques begins to diminish, and technology disappears. It is the responsibility of the owner and instructors to make certain that everything is applied 100% correctly. Instructors must know what they are doing; otherwise, one has no product to deliver. One's staff must have integrity to maintain the purity of the technology.

The standards that one applies to one's students will be vital to their success and their competence. Ethics, honor, integrity, and responsibility has to filter down to a school's students. It is part of helping one's students become competent as Martial Artists and citizens of society. If students are expected to be competent in application, technical standards must be in place firmly.

The establishment of standards must be the primary action of building an excellent school. Every owner and instructors of Martial Art schools must be industrious and endeavor to make philosophical, technical, staff, and student standards a reality. Otherwise, it will be a short-lived organization, and it will be a long fall from grace. Even if an organization survived for a period of time, public opinion will turn the tide, and one will begin to lose students swiftly. There's nothing more difficult to dig out of than a bad reputation.