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How important is certification to a Martial Arts Instructor's skill, ability,and credibility ( to teach ) ?

How Important is a Certification to a Martial Arts Instructor’s skill, ability and credibility (to teach)?

For Filipino Martial Arts Instructors: Does a certification give him the right to teach? Does it matter or not? Can you trust a person without him/her showing any certification that he/she can teach the arts.
In today’s world, one’s skill is sometimes affixed to documentation, one of which is a Certificate. It is regarded as proof that one has undergone the process or procedure or the course. But then does it apply to everybody especially to a martial arts instructor? Or can you rely on that instructor’s word that he has indeed acquired the martial arts skill well enough to teach even without a certification? Hope you can share your ideas, comments or suggestions on this topic.

Yours truly,

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A certificate may show that one has been trained and by whom yes.but it does not prove anything the proof is in the footwork and in the hands on the person. In fact not one person has ever asked me to see my certification after a session. And we all k ow in this day those are for sale. So if it is meaningful I think that who signed it is more important than the document it's self.

I have many certifications from several organizations of varying degrees of black belt or instructor level.

Some may say the black belt certifications registered directly with the Kukiwon in South Korea are the most valuable & most recognized, though my highest degree of black belt in TKD/Hapkido is not of the WTF but with an American organization, some may say it is of less value.  

I have varying instructor level certifications in the Filipino art of Serrada Escrima from different instructors & with different organizations.

Personally, I value all of my certifications, because they were earned by me.  Therefore the value is what I know they have to me.   

Do the certifications mean that I am a good instructor?  Heck no.  The value I have as an instructor is what the knowledge I'm able to provide students on the floor.  The knowledge that I can prove by stepping on the floor & "educating" those interested in exploring that knowledge with me.

Teaching is not for everyone.  Not every black belt can teach, regardless of certification.  Teaching in an of itself is a skill that is learned.  So not only do I teach my students technique, but from day 1, I help them to understand the technique.  From warm up drills, angles of attack, striking & counters, every facet of a system is valuable for the student to understand.  If the instructor can impart that knowledge regardless of certification or no certification, that instructor is an asset to their system and to the arts as a whole.

In my opinion, however, particularly within the FMA, Malay & Indo arts, it is proven lineage that should be able to be proven, whether by certification or personal verification by their peers or head of family system.

If lineage is there & knowledge is there, the certification is just a formality to hang in a frame on the wall.

Just my opinion.


Guru Mike

Guro Mike...

great reply i especially like" Do the certifications mean that I am a good instructor? Heck no"

Once you step on the floor your skill will show...regardless of certificate or titles.. in my opinion...



"Belt just means you don't need rope to hold up your pants" - to paraphrase Mr. Miyagi.  Knowledge and the ability to communicate it effectively combined with the commitment to elevate your students is the mark of a great teacher.  Certification to do so is only an acknowledgement of that fact. The former is not dependent on the latter. Certification matters in that it documents the permission granted through a line of legacy.  Certificates are signs; symbols of accomplishment.  They document the past and may give some insight into the future but they do not impart any more skills or abilities.  In other words, you don't have the skills because you have the certificate, you supposedly have the certificate because you have the skills.  This is not always the case, however.  A student can have a boat load of documents and a thimble full of skill.  And, there are countless instructors out there who are teaching under a tree with absolutely no documents at all...and they are really good.  I think students should follow the rule "Caveat Emptor" - "Let the buyer beware".  These days it is fairly easy to check out a potential teacher's qualifications but in the end, it is what he/she does on the floor that matters.  The relationship between a student and their teacher is paramount and surpasses any manner of certification.  A great teacher is a great teacher with or without a certificate.  Potential students should check out the qualifications of a teacher by looking at hisor her past, experiencing their present and anticipating their future.  Only the first third can be done by looking at a certificate.

Guro Lawrence.... great reply...i'm telling you got the gift to write pictures!

 I agree!!! Great response!!! ... wish I'd said that ... w/ the same ability to articulate, as you have!!!


Mike Parsons

Huntington, WV

IMO, many ranks, titles, and certifications are "bought" these days. As many of you have already said, the proof is on the floor. I've found the whole process of finding teachers that can actually effectively communicate information, is by comparison. I liked to spend time with different teachers, teaching the same art. I found this personal process best for me, to select the teacher that best suited me.

The rank or certificate had little influence on my decision on selecting a teacher for me.


Mataw Guro Dave

Is certifications the way to gain recognition, In some respect yes, they're important, nowdays anyone can set up their own style and use a scanner to print certificates, and give themselfs a title, it's happining in all the martial arts. Even the recognised groups are having a bad time on this, there is a story of a japanese guy from a well known group who got on a plane as 3rd dan and and when he arrived in the said country several hours alter is was an 8th dan. The stories one can tell. I feel however if after so many years as a student and your teacher gives you a certificate, then this is valid  as you have been with the teacher for so long, then it's honest and fair, that's as far as certificates go, just train, seek out the knowledge, the skill, and if your heart is in the right place then your a teacher.

He must have crossed many "International Dan Zones" lol

ROTF! Perfect set up...

I have seen too many with certifcates and are not worth a small pile of beans. Even more so in Korean styles than in others. Many families have handed down thier skill and knowledge without certifcation. If one wants to teach, then stay in close contact with your teacher and he/she would surely help you.

I like this.


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