I was 18, I had just become an instructor in Rancho Penasquitos. I was sitting down to a meeting with the other instructors. Our head instructor was going over students who needed special attention when someone walks by and sticks their head in. They asked if we teach Muay Thai(We didn’t). Our head instructor yells back, “Sure we have that,” and sends someone to get their information. I was immediately put off by the clear misdirection. This guy was looking for something totally different than what we taught, why would my instructor say we had that?
I asked him privately when I had the chance. I know the other instructors felt the same as me but they preferred to keep their thoughts to themselves. He said that it did not matter what that person said they wanted because it was more about what they were trying to get out of Muay Thai. I didn’t agree at all. Being a young adult with a clear path set in front of me(college, teaching martial arts, family, kids) I could not see how someone would not know what they wanted. How naive I was.
Well as it turns out he was right. Fast forward to my life now, and I never ask someone what style they are looking for. I have had enough experiences where my school is exactly what the new student wanted and they decide they hate it. I have also had folks coming in looking for a cage experience that like my program just fine when they get on the mat. Typically if you get on the mat and try it you can tell. The one’s who sit on the sidelines and just watch a class are usually the ones who never try a class unless I talk them into it. I do disagree with my first teacher though on semantics. It isn’t that people don’t know what they want, they don’t know what the martial arts can give them.
Sometimes they come into a martial arts school just for fun. They walk away realizing that they had confidence issues their whole life and didn’t even realize it till the martial arts helped toughen them up. Others are looking for a good exercise program, eventually realizing that their desire stems from a lack of self acceptance that really has little to do with their chubby thighs.
I’m the perfect example. I just wanted to learn how to fight so I wouldn’t be bullied, instead I became a part of a group that accepted me, appreciated my discipline and dedication, sense of humor, and helped me transition from young adult to adulthood. You never really know what martial arts can do for you till you give it a try. Just be open to what it might have in store for you.