Prodigal Practitioner: Dealing with a Problem Student

At some point or another, most martial arts masters and instructors will run into a student who will cause problems for the school or for the students attending. One of the most common of these instances is the younger student who distracts the class, due to hyperactivity or attention seeking behavior.

However, kids arent alone in creating issues at a martial arts school. Class disruptions can occur in many forms; bad hygiene, disrespectful behavior, violent tendencies, or bad social skills can all attribute to a negative environment for the rest of your students. Respect is a key part of martial arts and it’s a student’s responsibility to uphold this value. Here are some ways to get better at handling problem students at your martial arts school.


Committing to a Code of Conduct

Getting all new students to sign an agreement around your school’s code of conduct is an effective way to make it clear that there are standards to uphold. Writing down a disclaimer of potential consequences from a failure to adhere to these standards can protect you, in the event that a demotion, suspension or expulsion occurs.

A code of conduct also ensures everyone at the school is on the same page. You don’t want one instructor allowing certain behaviors, while another condemns it, leading to confusion amongst the students. A concerted approach from all instructors and masters will help in handling problem students effectively.


Nip It in the Bud

Addressing an issue before it becomes a habit will make it easier for you to positively affect the situation. This step can also help you understand the root cause of the problem; as a martial arts master, being able to show a student a better way to flourish in their life and at your school is the goal.

This is also an opportunity to give the student a warning and to communicate any potential consequences, if their actions persist. You can also communicate why their actions are disrespectful, which can help them better understand why their actions are inappropriate. During class, many instructors can use push-ups, sprints or other penalties as disciplinary actions on the spot, when appropriate.


Formal Actions

The most common formal disciplinary actions are suspensions, demotions, and expulsions. Expulsions are obviously a last resort but even suspensions and demotions are big deals. Handling problem students needs to be done with tact, since students are paying for their belts and classes. Some masters insist on refunding any portions of memberships that are forfeited due to a suspension or expulsion, while others write in their disclaimer that a formal reprimand will result in forfeited fees. Most schools will want to avoid keeping their money, as you may run into larger issues that aren’t worth the money, especially with cashout memberships.

At the end of the day, the martial arts act as a character builder. Working with your students to help them grow out of their negative behaviors is a challenge that instructors should take on. Martial arts philosophy creates a great value system for individuals and that’s where a core principal of martial arts lies.

What are your best tips for a new instructor trying to handle a student who disrupts their class? Let us know on our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+, to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.