Keeping New Students From Instructing Others Helps Martial Arts Schools Avoid Civil Liabilities

A segment of new students enrolling in martial arts classes may have a tendency to be a tad overly-enthusiastic. Often, out of self-esteem issues or social awkwardness, a beginner student may try to assert themself through instructing other new members. School owners should never overlook this particular type of inappropriate behavior. In addition to the rudeness factor of usurping the authority of the owner, the out-of-line student could open doors to civil personal liability claims. School owners positively must take steps to address such behavior before someone gets hurt.

Newbies Lack Certain Abilities

A new student in any type of boxing, grappling, or martial arts class is likely to lack three major traits necessary to be a competent instructor:

  • Knowledge

  • Control

  • Respect

A lack of knowledge creates the risk a technique could be taught improperly. Poor control while performing and demonstrating a move might hurt someone. Not being held in respect by another student sets the stage for challenges to authority and expertise which, in turn, leads to situations getting out of hand and reckless. Under certain circumstances, the instructor could be blamed for what this student did. As such, instructors should consider taking certain clear actions including:

  • Institute a "No Unauthorized Teachers" Rule

The school/gym must have a policy in place that clearly states no one other than the primary and assistant instructors are allowed to teach any techniques. Other than offering words of encouragement, "regular students" should be barred from being allowed to comment on techniques in any way.

  • Immediately Stop Improper Behavior

The minute violations of the above policy come to the attention of the instructor, the out-of-line student should be told to stop. The second time the student ignores this, the owner of the gym should have a private chat informing the student such behavior will not be tolerated. A written warning should be issued noting third violation means expulsion.

  • Give Students Guidance

Sometimes, a student feels the need to help because a technique is being done totally wrong or the other student asked a question. Make sure all students realize that, if they are in such a situation, to call over the primary or assistant instructor to answer the question. This way, no one violates any rules and the right advice is given.

Be Proactive to Avoid Negligence

Instructors that do not  establish rules may have the blame of negligence placed on them in a civil suit. Being proactive by instituting policies for proper behavior cuts down on claims of negligence. Posting a sign displaying school rules and providing a handout detailing the new rules to new students reduces the potential for behavior troubles and helps keep the school out of legal hot water.