There are many points of difference in the way that we operate as a martial arts school when we are compared with other, conventional schools. Most of these points of difference become clear only to students who enroll and train with us for some time. One of these points of difference which is immediately obvious to all applicants and can be a major stumbling block to potential students is the interview process.

Initial acceptance into our school is dependent on a successful interview with the head of the school. Some people find this big and scary. They have had to successfully sit interviews to win employment, but why do they need to do this to learn martial arts? Surely it should just be as easy as rocking up on the day, paying your ten dollars and getting your Big Mac With A Side Order Of Kung Fu Training. Super-size that Kung Fu Kick, please!
There are not many other martial arts schools which make this a requirement of successful enrollment but I have no doubt that the others who require this step, require it for similar reasons. It is easy to say that adopting this approach makes our school appear exclusive and that we must be a bit snobby because of this requirement. Certainly, by its very nature, an interview process does correctly imply that some candidates are excluded. Hence, assuming that an interview process makes our school exclusive, is correct. It does. But we have our reasons, and being snobbish is not one of them.

I thought that I would write this article to give you a better idea of why we need to ensure that our school remains exclusive. The interview process is carefully orchestrated and designed to expose some of the inner workings of the applicant’s mind. This is important because we do not wish to teach students who we do not know beyond a superficial level. It is also an opportunity for the potential student to get to know us and decide whether or not they want to be taught by us. Teaching is a two-way street and our teaching style and personalities may not gel with some potential students.

In addition, there are other considerations that have caused us to adopt the interview process:

  1. The crazies. Very occasionally, we get applicants who turn out to be attracted to the idea of criminal violence. The interview process is important so that we can steer these applicants to the door and report them to the authorities as potential causes for concern.
  2. The system. Our system is both extensive and involved. It requires a great deal of thought and mindful training to understand and apply its deeper aspects. It is not appropriate for people who are looking for fast food martial arts. People who are primarily interested in rapid gradings, belt colours and certificates. The interview process is necessary so that we can steer these applicants to explore other avenues to get their martial arts McNuggets.
  3. The intensity. The physical training component of our system involves a lot of high intensity interval training amongst other types of training. Much of this training is very physically demanding. One of our offerings, FuFit, is in fact made up entirely of some of the high intensity interval training components that we train in our traditional Kung Fu and Tai Chi classes. There is a need to interview potential students to understand their level of health and fitness and to guide them in what courses and classes are applicable for them.
  4. The seriousness. The system that we teach, including the TKT and combat training aspects of it, are very serious, functional and deadly. In the wrong hands, they can be abused. The interview process is important to ensure that our system does not land up in the wrong hands.
  5. The atmosphere. We like to foster a serious, relaxed, safe and clean atmosphere within which martial arts progress can thrive. Our centre is actually located only a few metres from our home on our beautiful bush-land property. We have no desire to foul the atmosphere with toxicity and bad attitudes. As such, another function of the interview process is to encourage toxic individuals who have problems with authority to go elsewhere.
  6. The morality. There is a very real need to teach moral frameworks along with martial arts. If this is not done, it will lead to schools brimming with aggressive, combat-effective bullies. A dangerous situation. This does seem to be common in our day and age. Take a look at the disgraceful behaviour and aggressive dialogue from some of the high-profile martial arts athletes today, and you will see the results of the baleful moral collapse in commercial martial arts. It is no accident that martial arts have often been historically associated with temples and monastic orders. We do not teach any kind of religion as part of the training process, but we do encourage students to understand their moral responsibilities to others.
  7. The relationship. I mentioned earlier that teaching is a two-way street. It’s about a relationship between the teacher and the student. This relationship includes elements of respect and care from both sides. Without this relationship, effective progress cannot be made. The interview process enables a decision to be made as to whether or not a teacher-student relationship is possible with the applicant.
  8. The safety. I have touched on this earlier, but a toxic, aggressive and disobedient person can easily become a danger to other students and to themselves. A danger to other students because lack of control coupled with disrespect can lead to them injuring other students during sparring exercises. A danger to themselves because total loss of control on their part can degrade the class into a real self-defence situation. This is not a good situation for anyone, so the interview process once again highlights these potential threats and enables us to send these applicants on their merry way.

Clearly, our school and system is not for everyone. If you are still reading this article and have come this far without flicking on to something else, you might be the right student for our school. If you think deeply about things. If you are a person who has been turned away by the loud, testosterone-jammed atmosphere of the typical martial arts school. If you have secretly laughed at the boorish, cocky, aggressively stupid antics of some martial arts instructors but are still interested in martial arts all the same, perhaps you should send us an email or give us a call. We will book your interview and your journey will begin.

Written by SiXiong Lester, Head of Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre Australia